We’re Opening four Special Titles Listings!

BMWe hope you are all having a lovely time baking holiday treats and choosing gifts for the your friends and family. Hopefully there is also some time left for reading (although we know from experience this is not always the case in December). With everything being a bit busier than usual, we have decided to open this month’s Special Titles Listings late enough to extend until after the holidays. We’re hoping that if not straight away, you will find a moment to nominate some titles in the more quiet days.

When we looked at the lists this time, we realised with some astonishment that almost all of them have been opened and revised since we took up this task a bit more than two years ago. This means we will be able reopen some of the more popular lists quite soon. In the meantime, here are four more lists that have been neglected so far: All in the Family, Guardian/Ward Romances, Twins, and Plus-Sized Heroines.

The All in the Family list contains romances between relatives both by blood and by marriage. Quite a few of these books can be tricky in the eyes of the readers: In some cultures, for examples, marriages between first cousins is a taboo, whereas in others it isn’t. This means that as a reader from Central Europe I am just fine with Georgette Heyer’s Grand Sophy marrying her cousin Charles – especially since they never knew each other while growing up – but I know there are readers with different cultural backgrounds who find this difficult to swallow. In a similar vein, some readers find marriages problematic where one partner has been the lover/husband/wife of their new romantic interest in the past. On the other hand, the list also contains titles in which someone falls for a sibling’s best friend, for a step-sibling or an in-law. Reading how the dynamics of family play out in such romances can be great fun, and often they provide a more fully-fleshed cast of secondary characters than many romances do. If you nominate a title for this category, can you very kindly tell us how the characters are related (i.e. foster siblings or sibling’s best friend)?

Guardian/Ward romances can be difficult for modern sensibilities as well. Often they contain a relationship between a younger woman and a much older man. The obvious inequality of power can be further complicated by the rather problematic move from parental/filial emotions to sexual desire. This said, in a skilled hand they can work wonderfully well. As an example, take Georgette Heyer’s Regency Buck, where the hero is astonished to find himself guardian to a girl not much younger than himself, and is torn between his desires and the duties he needs to fulfil. In this list we also include romances with protagonists who take on a guardian-like role, like Georgette Heyer’s Frederica, so there does not have to be a strictly legal guardian/ward relationship.

Now Twins are fun (mostly). They can be found in any number of books where the twins in question play on the fact that nobody can tell them apart, and use this to get their own way. In a more serious vein, a twin may be asked to take on a sibling’s role as part of a criminal investigation – in the worst case, their twin is dead. Other books seriously explore the issues that may stem from being only part of a whole, and the development necessary to emancipate even from this close relationship.

The Plus-Sized Heroines list contains both characters who are curvy and who are unusually tall, so very kindly indicate this when you nominate a title! These heroines often feel inadequate or awkward due to their height and/or size, or in the case of being perfectly happy with themselves, they instead have to deal with rude remarks and preconceived notions from the people around them. They may further feel insecure when it comes to finding a romantic partner, because they do not fulfill the general ideal of female beauty.

We are looking very much forward to your nominations! In the meantime, take our heartfelt thanks for all the wonderful books you have contributed to these lists in 2014. We very much appreciate your input, and hope for more great suggestions in 2015!

- Rike Horstmann, LinnieGayl Kimmel, and Cindy Smith


We’ve updated our Special Titles lists!

Since we started updating the Special Title lists in 2012 we’ve asked AAR’s readers to tell us which lists they would like updated first. We’ve taken your priorities to heart and have gradually been working through your favorite lists. We’re now down to the lists that very few readers listed as their favorites. Needless to say we were nervous when we opened the latest five lists for updating; would anyone submit titles? Our worries proved groundless. Once again, you’ve submitted lots of great titles. Continue reading

Opening five Special Titles Listings for submissions!

5heartsAfter a long, relaxing summer break we are very happy to be back and full of renewed energy. You can see that from the fact that we are opening no less than five of the Special Titles list, and hoping for many fascinating submissions from you. Remember, that you should only nominate the best of the best romances. We will be accepting submissions starting today, Monday, October 13, and ending at midnight on Sunday, October 26. Here are the five lists: Continue reading

A Special Titles Update!

One of the nicest parts of looking up newly nominated titles for a Special Titles Listing is discovering and rediscovering great books. This time around, we were struck by how many of the titles we had to research for the present list were actually perfect summer reading material. We came across exotic settings, sea travel, luxury lifestyles and an over-all fairy tale quality. Here are some of the new titles that we found especially interesting, sorted by the list they are part of. Check out all of the results here.sleeping-beauty_jpg Continue reading

We’ve Four New Special Title Lists!

SpecialToday we open up four more Special Title Lists for new submissions. And now that summer’s here, we thought it would be fun to focus on what for many, are guilty pleasure reads. So starting today, we’re looking for submissions to the following four lists: (1) Pirates, Vikings & Sheiks; (2) Royalty in Romance; (3) Fairy Tale Romances; and (4) Perfect First Wives. Continue reading

Seeking Submissions for Six Special Title Listings

1177597246_1024x768_book-of-a-wizard-wallpaperToday we open up six more Special Title Lists for new submissions. That’s right, we’re going all out with the following six lists as this will be our last major update until fall: (1) Green Romances; (2) Friendships; (3) Two-Hanky Reads; (4) Best Enemies; (5) The Limelight; and (6) Cross-Dressing & In Disguise.

We look forward to seeing your submissions for these lists starting today, Monday, May 12, and going for the next two weeks ending Sunday, May 25 at midnight. As a reminder, any additions to the list have to be: (1) the best of the best, (2) stand the test of time, and (3) actually fit the list for which they were submitted. Continue reading

Some Titles Never Get Old

admin_1-asset-503651a71b465One of the great pleasures of revising AAR’s Special Titles Listings is the re-discovery of old books. A reader nominates a title, or I spot it already on the list while I am adding AAR grades, and I remember I have it on my shelves or on my e-reader. I need to look up the date of publication and hero’s full name anyway, so I pick it up and start browsing. Usually I drag myself away and continue working on the list, but more often than not, I pick up that particular book again in the evening and make it my next read. What a great way to reaquaint myself with my library! Continue reading

Young Adult Special Title List


YA writer Kate Hart assessed over the covers of 900+ Young Adult novels

As our Young Adult Special Titles List was only revised two months ago, we did not expect that many new nominations this time around – after all, with the last revision the number of titles on the list had almost doubled, and many of AAR’s staff had already entered their favorites then. We were pleasantly surprised to find that there are several fascinating titles – older ones as well as more recent ones – we had missed so far, and which we are now able to add, among them the creepy 1980s story A Deadly Game of Magic by Joan Lowery Nixon and Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series, which is a mixture of dystopia, SF and steampunk, but gets listed under Fairy Tale Retellings here (in case you were wondering). Continue reading