TBR Challenge – Modern Love

returntotomorrow When I saw that this month’s TBR Challenge category called on us to read a contemporary romance, I found almost an embarrassment of choices. Did I want to go mainstream or inspy? Small town or big city? Something serious or more chick lit in tone? In the end, the setting drew me into Return to Tomorrow, a 2010 re-release of a 1990 title.

The premise of this novel is definitely not run of the mill. The characters were all shaped by their experiences in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, and even 20+ years on, the author shows how the war affected them. Rachel McKendrick spent years in a prison camp in Laos, and not surprisingly, has a lot of emotional issues to work through. After her rescue, she never intended to return to the region but a promise made to a priest she respected deeply brings her to a refugee camp.

There she meets Brett “Tiger” Jackson, a man with a dangerous reputation. Tiger fought in the war and has stayed behind working a variety of shadowy jobs and living among a trusted group of expats who, like him, never could quite return home after the war. Rachel’s brother back home knew and trusted him, but on the ground in Thailand, he has a reputation as a dangerous drug smuggler. There is obviously more to him than meets the eye, but readers are only slightly ahead of Rachel in learning this. Continue reading

TBR Challenge – New to Me Books

fairshine I went back to “Sunday” in the Back to School Challenge this month, to read the second of the books I’d chosen for that day.

The prompt was

- Read a book that has in its title the word “Sunday”, “Sun”, “light”, “shine”, “hot, “star” or “day”, or any variation of these words, or a word you think might have a similar connotation.

and I’d chosen a book by the British author, Sylvia Thorpe called Fair Shine the Day, which is a piece of historical fiction with romantic elements set during the time of the English Civil War. This period of English history seems to get a lot less attention than Tudor times, the Regency, or Victorian eras when it comes to historical romance and I can’t quite work out why. There’s plenty of actual history to get one’s teeth into, and of course, that whole Royalist/Puritan divide is, I’d have thought, a romance writer’s dream. Continue reading

We pick the “Buried Treasures” of 2013

Starfish-beach-wallpaperIn 2013, self-publishing was mainstream, social media allowed authors more specific ways to publicize their work, and everyone had a strongly held opinion about what constituted a great romance novel.  This environment makes the idea of a “buried treasure” more difficult to define. So, let’s agree to accept this definition: a buried treasure is a book you loved you think isn’t as well known as it should be. Continue reading

TBR Challenge – Back to School and Some Catching Up to Do

gatheringstorm February proved to be quite the “challenging” month for me and I finished only four books that applied to my challenges. The good news is that reading three of those books helped me finish off my geography challenge. None of the books were standouts to me unfortunately, although A Gathering Storm by Rachel Hore was certainly the most memorable.

In Hore’s novel, Lucy Cardwell’s father seemed to have some sort of breakdown shortly after his mother’s death. He divorced his wife and seemed obsessed with some strange branch of family history. When Lucy sorts through his papers she finds out about an uncle she never knew she had. Intrigued she finds herself visiting her father’s childhood home, the once beautiful Carlyon Manor. The house has burned down but the village near it is still around and it is there that she meets Beatrice, an old woman who knows all the secrets of Lucy’s family. Starting in the 1930’s and ending shortly after the war we learn of a boy, a girl and a breathtaking adventure. Continue reading

Eagerly Awaited March Books

I can’t believe we’re already thinking about spring releases! But, March is just around the corner. Judging by the list of books we here at AAR are eager to try, I think it’s fair to say that Deanna Raybourn’s historical novels have our attention. Spring is bringing a variety of interesting-sounding books in other subgenres as well, and there seem to be more category romances than usual catching our eyes. So, what are you looking forward to in March?

Title and Author Reviewer
City of Jasmine by Deanna Raybourn City of Jasmine by Deanna Raybourn Lynn, Caz, Pat, Lee, LinnieGayl, Rike, Maggie, Alexandra, Melanie
The Jade Temptress by Jeannie Lin The Jade Temptress by Jeannie Lin Maggie, Caroline, Lynn
All a Man is by Janice Kay Johnson All a Man Is by Janie Kay Johnson Heather, Pat
Carolina Man by Virginia Kantra Carolina Man by Virginia Kantra Lee, Haley
Night Broken by Patricia Briggs Night Broken by Patricia Briggs Maggie, Heather
The Fall of a Saint by Christine Merrill The Fall of a Saint by Christine Merrill Caz
Awakened by His Touch by Nikki Logan Awakened by His Touch by Nikki Logan Rike
Secrets at Court by Blythe Gifford Secrets at Court by Blythe Gifford Lynn
Love Comes Calling by Siri Mitchell Love Comes Calling by Siri Mitchell Maggie
The Bride Insists by Jane Ashford The Bride Insists by Jane Ashford Lee
Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop Heather
Atonement by B.J. Daniels Atonement by B.J. Daniels Pat
For His Eyes Only by Liz Fielding For His Eyes Only by Liz Fielding Caroline
The Rebel Pirate by Donna Thorland The Rebel Pirate by Donna Thorland Alexandra
The Rome Affair by Addison Fox The Rome Affair by Addison Fox Lynn
Ghost Train to New Orleans by Mur Lafferty Ghost Train to New Orleans by Mur Lafferty Melanie
The Dark Affair by Maire Claremont The Dark Affair by Maire Claremont Caz
The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan Rike
Precious Thing by Colette McBeth Precious Thing by Colette McBeth Maggie
A King's Ransom by Sharon Kay Penman A King’s Ransom by Sharon Kay Penman Caz
Love Another Day by Gina Robinson Love Another Day by Gina Robinson Lee
The Kindred of Darkness by Barbara Hambly The Kindred of Darkness by Barbara Hambly Caroline
Dancing With Dragons by Lorenda Christensen Dancing With Dragons by Lorenda Christensen Lynn
The All You Can Dream Buffet by Barbara O'Neal The All You Can Dream Buffet by Barbara O’Neal Heather
Death by the Book by Juliana Deering Death by the Book by Julianna Deering Maggie
All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins All I Ever Wanted(reissue) by Kristan Higgins Jenna
Double Blind by Heidi Cullinan Double Blind(reissue) by Heidi Cullinan Pat
An Arranged Marriage by Jo Beverley An Arranged Marriage(reissue) by Jo Beverley Rike

Eagerly Awaited February Books

As we get closer to time for February releases, I think it’s fair to say that more than a few of us are curious to see what Tessa Dare’s new historical romance series holds for readers. February also brings us a new series from Suzanne Brockmann. And if you aren’t in the mood to try a new series? Well, we found several other upcoming books to pique our curiosity. What do you want to read next month?

Title and Author Reviewer
Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare Lynn, Dabney, Cindy, Lee, Mary, Blythe, Caz, Alex
Do or Die by Suzanne Brockmann Do or Die by Suzanne Brockmann Blythe, Lea, Heather, Caroline, Caroline
The MacGregor's Lady by Grace Burrowes The MacGregor’s Lady by Grace Burrowes Mary, Caz
Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen Maggie, Haley
Jaded by Anne Calhoun Jaded by Anne Calhoun Dabney, Lynn
Walking on Air by Catherine Anderson Walking on Air by Catherine Anderson Lee, Pat
Concealed in Death by J.D. Robb Concealed in Death by J.D. Robb Maggie, Blythe
The Forbideen Queen by Anne O'Brien The Forbidden Queen by Anne O’Brien Caroline, Lynn
To Tempt a Viking by Michelle Willingham To Tempt a Viking by Michelle Willingham Haley
Shamed in the Sands by Sharon Kendrick Shamed in the Sands by Sharon Kendrick Caroline
Up From the Grave by Jeaniene Frost Up From the Grave by Jeaniene Frost Lea
In Search of Hope by Anna Jacobs In Search of Hope by Anna Jacobs Pat
At the River's Edge by Mariah Stewart At the River’s Edge by Mariah Stewart LinnieGayl
Alienated by Melissa Landers Alienated by JMelissa Landers Maggie
The Countess Confessions by Jillian Hunter The Countess Confessions by Jillian Hunter Lee
Winter at Mustang Ridge by Jesse Hayworth Winter at Mustang Ridge by Jesse Hayworth Pat
The Real Mr. Right by Karen Templeton The Real Mr. Right by Karen Templeton Caroline
Misbehaving by Tiffany Reisz Misbehaving by Tiffany Reisz Lynn
Curl Up and Dye by Sharon Sala Curl Up and Dye by Sharon Sala Maggie
Why Earls Fall in Love by Manda Collins Why Earls Fall in Love by Manda Collins Lee
M

Melting the Ice by Jaci Burton Haley
That Part was True by Deborah McKinlay That Part Was True by Deborah McKinlay Pat
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan Maggie
After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman Dabney
The Major's Wife by Lauri Robinson The Major’s Wife by Lauri Robinson Caroline

Getting Started on Those 2014 TBR Challenges!

threeriverranch Once again, I’m participating in the multi-blog TBR Challenge but this year we’re doing things a little differently here on the blog as a couple of my fellow AAR reviewers are working on reading challenges, too. So, each month we’ll all be talking reading challenges and if there are any challenges you want to hop onto for yourself, you’ll find links down at the bottom.

My challenge for the month was to read something short – a category novel or a novella or short story. I tend to buy plenty of category romance so this was no problem for me. When Entangled launched, I had purchased several books from their various category lines to try and a few were still sitting unread on the Kindle, so this time around I decided to try Three River Ranch by Roxanne Snopek. Three River Ranch is a 2012 release from the Bliss line, a line that seems to feature American settings, strong family/home/community themes and fairly low-level sensuality. I have a feeling this line would appeal to readers of Harlequin American Romance or Special Edition. Continue reading

Starting a New Year

penpaper There’s something about starting a new year that just feels fresh and inspiring. New places yet to see, new books still to be read, and somehow on that first day of each year, the world itself feels a little more new.

I moved recently, and as I’ve been unpacking my books (and even with my Kindle, there are still tons of paper books!), I find myself thinking about how I want to be reading in 2014. Here are some of the things important to me for next year:

Discovering new-to-me authors – I started reviewing at AAR when I was not long out of school. 2013 marked my 10th year here, and one of my favorite things about being a reviewer has been the discovery of books and authors I probably would not have discovered on my own otherwise. AAR is what led me to Continue reading

A Little Bit of Book News for the Holidays

christmastree Maybe it’s my lack of affection for the massive consumption side of Christmas(or my resistance to being anywhere near a mall between Thanksgiving and New Year’s), but for some reason, I always find myself coasting into those last few days before Christmas just a bit unprepared. Even as I resist the gift frenzy, I do find myself with an affection for holiday romance, listening to carols on Pandora, and maybe feeling a bit more festive as I wander the internet. Here are some of the interesting reads I’ve found in my travels lately:

– For those who completely missed out on their internet/social media ruling, there was A Kerfuffle last week. I thought about writing a blog piece to cover this trainwreck of a piece by Palash Ghosh and the backlash that ensued, but in the end decided that there really wasn’t too much to say that hasn’t already been said by me or other bloggers in the past – not to mention Laurie and some of the romance authors and reviewers who were online way before some of us writing today. Quite frankly, after having seen romance readers mocked in the press for years, this round of looking down on romance readers has a feel of “same condescension, different jackass” about it. Continue reading

TBR Challenge 2013 – Getting Into the Holiday Spirit?

comfortandjoy As we coast into the last month of the 2013 TBR Challenge, we get to one of my favorite categories – holiday romances. Since I was unpacking from a move, I just ended up reading the first holiday tale I encountered – Sandra Madden’s 2001 Christmas romance, Comfort and Joy. I probably should have kept right on digging because this frustrating little book definitely lands squarely in C grade territory for me.

The book has its good points. For starters, I loved the 1870s Boston settings. It’s refreshing at times to have a break from the Regency/Victorian England That Never Was. And since I tend to like romances with characters from different classes, the old money Boston hero and Irish immigrant heroine in this story caught my eye as well. Though acceptance of their romance comes perhaps a bit more easily than it would have in real life, the author does still give some consideration to the prejudices and class tension of the time. Continue reading