Archive for the ‘Rike AAR’ Category

Updating the Tormented Heroines List

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

scoundrelkiss The Tormented Heroines list, for us, is one of the “you know it when you see it” sort. The main female character is deeply unhappy and dissatisfied for some reason, and this reason may lie in her own character, or in dramatic events in her past that influence her self-image to a strong degree. Amending the definition was not so easy, and we ended up making it more descriptive than it used to be. This is how it stands now:

“These tormented heroines are at complete odds with the world around them – either because there is something in their past for which they feel deep remorse or shame, or because they are misfits who have not found yet a place in which they can be happy and fulfilled. They could be cynical, emotionally distant, unhappily eccentric, or wild. What they share is an edge that stems from their deep frustrations.”

We hope that you will find it more helpful than the last version. Now one problem was that when we asked you to nominate books for this list, the old definition was still in place. Fortunately, almost all nominations fit the new definition very well, and we are pleased to add 38 new titles to the list. Only a very few books didn’t make it, mostly because although the heroines are eccentric, we felt they lacked the desperation that makes a heroine truly tormented. One example is Yasmeen from Meljean Brook’s Heart of Steel, who has an extremely colorful past but actually deals quite well with it. Another example is Millie Fitzhugh from Sherry Thomas’s Ravishing the Heiress. Millie is unhappy, but that unhappiness stems mostly from her unrequited love she feels for her husband. Otherwise, she has forged a place for herself very nicely in revolutionizing the concept of marketing for the company she owns with her husband.

With the older titles already on the Tormented Heroines list, we were left with a dilemma: Do all of them really fit the new definition? We checked those we had read, but with many, we just didn’t know. That’s where you come in: Do you spot a title on the Tormented Heroines list whose heroines is not truly tormented according to our definition? If so, please let us know and we can remove that title.

Please don’t forget to nominate Virginal Heroes and May/December and December/May romances! The ballots are still open until Thursday October 24 at midnight.

- Cindy Smith, LinnieGayl Kimmel and Rike Horstmann

And..We’re Opening Two New Special Title Lists for Submissions!

Saturday, October 12th, 2013

outlander2 Having looked at Experienced Women last time we updated the list, let’s consider their counterparts now: virginal men. What is so fascinating about Virginal Heroes? First and foremost that they confound all romance expectations. Romance heroes as such are expected to be suave, sure of themselves, confident in all matters – and that includes sex. How else, one may ask, will they be able to please the heroine so well that she experiences an orgasm the first time ever she has sex? How else can they pay the heroine the compliment that, although they have slept with dozens of women (or hundreds … take your choice), sex with her is more earth-shattering than anything they have ever experienced?

But let’s forget about the clichés of the genre for a minute and let’s consider real-life men. While many of them have sex with more than one woman during their lifetime, others are true to one woman only (just as it is the other way around). Which means that they are virgins when they meet their mate-to-be. So why not include the fictional counterparts of these men in the romance cosmos? Some of the heroes already on this list are utterly delicious – I am looking at you, Dr. Anthony Cook and Branden Kel-Paten, among others. So bring them on! (more…)

Special Title Lists and Thinking About Definitions

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

thinker When we prepare to open one of our Special Title Listings, we look at the original definition and we look at the books that were nominated in the past and made their way onto the list, and matters seem straightforward enough. Then we write a little bit for the blog, trying to illustrate further what is so especially fascinating about that particular trope, and what variations there may be within it. Then you, our readers, nominate books. With most, the procedure is simple enough: They obviously fit the category, they have received glowing reviews here at AAR or at other respected sites, and on the list they go. But then there are the borderline books: They don’t quite fit the definition, but yet they are very close to it. Do we change the definition to encompass a larger range of books, to permit a wider variety within the list? Or do we stick to the definition because we don’t want to water down the list? (more…)

The results of the AAR Top Ten Lists are in and the winner is….

Monday, October 7th, 2013

loverawakenedBack in April, we began, on each Tuesday, publishing a reviewer’s Top Ten list. There were no rules other than the books be in the romance genre. Over the next five months, we published twenty-three lists. Out of the 230 entries, we listed 201 books. We hit every genre (although we have a definitive fondness for historical romance), and waxed upon the works of 121 authors. After every one had weighed in, only one book garnered five–the most–votes: J.R. Ward’s Lover Awakened. (more…)

Special Title Listings: The Bad Girls

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

spear_of_summer_grass Bad girl heroines hold a special fascination for many romance readers because these women go against the grain of what we expect in a romance in a number of ways. They are aggressive, they take the lead, they act selfishly or irresponsibly, and they may even be without remorse. They don’t mind using their charm and attraction for their own advantage, and they even use their bodies to get what they want. Often they are outcasts, be it from choice or from necessity. However, as many of them are strong, independent characters, they are highly interesting to read about.

There are several special title listings at AAR that contain such heroines.

The Tormented Heroines are at odds with their role in society, and this results in their acting against the rules of sweet and caring womanhood. They may be cynical, eccentric, manipulative, selfish, or any combination of these. In any case they are mad, bad, and dangerous to know, and it takes a very special hero to bridge their defenses and let them find happiness. With these heroines, it is often clear that even the happy ending is only a single step forward in a battle of wits that will last for and enrich their entire lives. No conventional happily-ever-after here! (more…)

Two Special Title Lists Revised

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

bookstack It seems hard to believe but one year ago Rike, Cindy, and I took over the task of updating the Special Title Lists after they had been untouched for nearly three years.

Since then we’ve updated or created 29 lists. We’ve encountered some unanticipated problems such as inconsistencies or overlapping lists, unclear definitions, and a few clearly misplaced titles. But more than the problems, we’ve had a great deal of fun exploring these lists and learning about some new titles in our own favorite categories. This morning we’re pleased to announce that thanks to you, two more Special Title Lists have been revised and are now available for you to check out: Older Couples and Big City Contemporary Romances. (more…)

Special Title Listings: Summer Update

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

list As summer heads into its final months we’ve decided to take a bit of a break and are doing a light update for the Special Title Listings by opening just two lists for your suggestions. Even though we’re entering the Dog Days of summer we hope you’ll be able to help us once again and offer some great suggestions for the following lists: (1) Older Couples, and (2) Big City Contemporary Romances.

We look forward to seeing your submissions for these lists starting today Monday August 5 and going for the next two weeks ending Sunday August 18 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. (more…)

Updated Special Title Lists – Suspense & Mystery, and Heroes in Pursuit

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

newimproved As we said several weeks ago, we were simply bombarded with submissions when we opened these two lists up for your nominations, with over 150 recommendations for each. We have now posted the revised lists at AAR, but have a few issues to raise as you’ll see below.

Suspense & Mystery List. We’re afraid that the Suspense & Mystery list – as currently constituted – may have outlived its usefulness. This list was created in 1997, long before the power search was available at AAR. We believe that the Special Title Lists should provide something different than the power search feature. For example, we don’t have a Special Title list for Medieval Historicals or European Historicals or Contemporary Romances. So does it make sense to have a Special Title list with part of its definition as Romantic Suspense? We don’t think so, but we’d like your thoughts. (more…)

AAR Staff Top Ten Favorites – Rike’s Picks

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

cotillion All the romances listed below are true Desert Island Keepers for me, and for each of them the following holds true: Whenever I open them to reread a particular scene, I cannot put them down again, and I end up reading the whole book. Each and every time. So this list is entirely subjective, with no regard to subgenres or dates of publication – although to gain entry on this list, a romance must have been around for a few years, otherwise I won’t know whether I will reread it again … and again … and again.

The order in which I have placed the books is not according to preference, but, as far as I can remember, according to the time in which I discovered them and added them to my own personal canon. (more…)

Sports Romances and Heroines in Pursuit

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

list We don’t know what it is about the combination of Heroes in Pursuit, Heroines in Pursuit, Sports Romances, and Suspense & Mystery, but we seem to have hit all your buttons. Never since we have taken up the Special Titles Listings have we received so many nominations, in the case of Heroes in Pursuit and Suspense & Mystery more than 150 titles each. The good news is that these lists will be expanded considerably; the bad news is that we will just need a bit more time to do so. As a result, we are presenting the updated pages in two steps: Today the shorter Heroines in Pursuit and Sports Romances, and the week after next the other two lists. (more…)