Archive for the ‘AAR Blythe’ Category

Is This Our Collective Fantasy?

Monday, September 24th, 2012

My workout playlist runs to guilty pleasures, and Whatever You Like is among the guiltiest. I prefer this more indie, Joan as Policewoman version to the TI original. In case you’re not interested in listening – or unfamiliar with the words – the message in a nutshell is “I find you attractive and want to sleep with you, so I will buy you stuff. Expensive stuff.”

I got to thinking about this during the summer when I read two books with uber-rich heroes back to back. Both of them are household names: Roarke from the long running J.D. Robb series, and Johnny come lately Christian Grey from Fifty Shades. Roarke is of course the classic. He owns half the planet and plenty of stuff off the planet. In the earlier books, he was always working, wheeling, and dealing. Lately he seems to have enough time to own the world and serve as expert consultant, civilian on Eve’s cases. It’s a nice gig, if you can get it.
(more…)

Pandora’s Box: A Lady Never Lies

Friday, September 21st, 2012

ladyneverlies And Pandora’s Box is back again! This time around, Blythe Barnhill and Jean Wan are taking on a European historical by debut author Juliana Grey. In A Lady Never Lies, Lady Morley has fled to Italy to escape creditors and there she meets inventor Phineas “Finn” Burke. Each of the two, and their traveling companions, are staying in a remote castle in Tuscany. With an unusual setting and a backstory involving the invention of motorcars, this book stood out among recent historical romance offerings.

Blythe: I chose A Lady Never Lies by debut author Juliana Gray for two reasons: 1) she was a brand new European Historical author I’d never tried and 2) I happened to have two copies on hand. Well, from my end, it was a happy accident. I really loved the book. I had no idea that it was set in 1890 – in Italy, no less – and featured a hero who designed electric cars. I am predisposed to like novelty, so this suited me down to the ground. Then I ended up liking the hero and heroine as well. But what did you think?
(more…)

What I Read on My Summer Vacation

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

I am one of the most regimented readers I know. I follow the same pattern every month: I read three books for review, read my book club book, and use whatever’s left of the month to read whatever I want to read. It sounds rigid, but I’m an order muppet, and this schedule nearly always suits me. In fact, I believe I’ve only taken a month off from reviewing twice in fourteen years. Last month was one of those. With various stresses in my life, I’d had little free reading time over the last several months, and I decided I needed a mental health break. So I allowed myself a month full of the heady freedom most adults experience all the time, and spent July reading whatever struck my fancy. Here’s what I read (mostly) for fun and just for me:
(more…)

RWA 2012 Wrap Up

Monday, July 30th, 2012

disney RWA 2012 was my fifth conference; I’ve been to the last three in a row, and before that was at Reno in 2005 and Denver in 2002. With that many under my belt I am learning that each conference has its own vibe, and some are happier and, well, lighter than others. This was an upbeat, optimistic conference. I wasn’t the only one that noticed; there was more than one comment to that effect on twitter, and several people made that observation to me in person.

Part of the reason is that last year the industry was in transition and everyone felt a little tense. Everyone knew that digital publishing was having an impact and no one was quite sure what that impact would be for traditional publishers – or for authors. (more…)

RWA 2012: News From Anaheim

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

literacysigningRWA 2012 began early yesterday for Lynn Spencer and me; we started the day at Disneyland (first time for her, umpteenth for me). Only one thing could tear me away: The annual literary signing. I only got to ride Space Mountain once, but I did get to catch up with lots of authors and find out what they’re up to. Here’s what’s new and exciting:

I caught up with Tessa Dare first. Her latest Spindle Cove book (featuring Kate and Thorne) is out in August. After that, there’s one more…featuring Pauline, the serving girl at the tavern. I asked if she’s really a serving girl. Instead of, you know, a secret countess or something. Yep, she’s the real deal.

Kate Noble’s next book is about Bridget, the sister of If I Fall‘s heroine. But she’s also working on The Lizzie Bennett Diaries, a modern web video and interactive adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Sounds like fun.

Carrie Lofty has several balls in the air. She still has a couple of books to write in the Christie series, but is also collaborating on a contemporary erotica series with fighter pilots in Las Vegas. They’ll be released under a new name – Katie Porter. I couldn’t help asking whether her unusual historicals were a hard sell. She said she had a supportive editor at Pocket who enjoyed unusual settings (and signed both her and Meredith Duran). Vive la Difference! (And if you’re not reading her books yet, you should be).

And speaking of unusual settings and characters, Delilah Marvelle’s next project has a heroine who stutters and a bare-knuckle boxer hero. It’s called Forever a Lord. after that she’ll turn her attention to the French Revolution, with a series of books set in both England and France.

Molly O’Keefe is looking ahead to a contemporary series set in a small Southern town. I had to ask whether anyone marries the sheriff…apparently not. So you can write a small town series sans sheriff. I knew it! I told her our reviewers fight over her books, which is true.

Victoria Dahl’s new series is set in Jackson Hole, with cowboy heroes. Apparently they all live in an old farm house that’s been turned into an apartment building and appropriately named The Stud Farm (because of the landlady’s propensity to accept only hot tenants). Obviously, this apartment building should be closer to my house. And yours.

(more…)

Who Are You? And Who Needs to Know?

Monday, July 16th, 2012

CNSPhoto-Simpsons Everything I’ve ever written or posted at AAR has been under my own name. My real one. Since I’ve been doing this for well over a decade and have an unusual name, I figure I am about the easiest person to find on the internet. You google me, you get me. I made the choice early on, and I’ve always been comfortable with it. But we have several staff members who use a pseudonym. Reasons vary; for some it’s a professional issue, for others a privacy one. Honestly, when a reviewer wants to use an assumed name I don’t feel the need to ask them why. I don’t really care what you call yourself as long as you are professional.
(more…)

Revisiting an Old DIK: Danelle Harmon’s The Beloved One

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

When we see “What ever happened to” questions here at AAR, Danelle Harmon is one of the names that often pops up. She wrote the popular de Montforte series in the late 90s, all of which received positive reviews here. I read and loved them all back in the day, and wrote a DIK review of The Beloved One fourteen years ago.

Well, as you may have seen on the interwebs, Danelle is back, with slightly re-worked and re-issued de Monteforte books. All of them have glorious new covers (no more BJ cover for The Beloved One, happily). Danelle had this to say about her sabbatical and return:

It’s been over ten years since my last book came out, and during this rather lengthy sabbatical, I’ve been busy raising our daughter and pursuing other passions, including my Arabian horses and as ever, dog showing. (Our household now includes four, yes four, German Shorthaired Pointers ranging in age from 10 months to 14 years! In fact, my beloved Roscoe, gone now and waiting for me at the Rainbow Bridge, appeared as “Freckles” in The Defiant One, and that is actually him featured on the new cover of The Defiant One!)

(more…)

When “I Can’t” Becomes “No One Should”

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

jerseyshoreI hate Jersey Shore. I saw it just one time, when my daughter was watching the first episode and I happened to be in the room. I found the people horrifying, and the very idea that I was watching them filled me with despair. The only reason I would ever read Snooki’s book is if I was locked in a padded cell, and it was the only available reading material (in which case I’d read anything, up to and including all sixty zillion volumes of the annoying Magic Treehouse series, Cassie Edwards’ exclamation point filled backlist, and my husband’s tax accounting books). Clearly, Snooki and friends are not for me. Two of my colleagues, on the other hand, just can’t get enough of the Guidos and Guidettes. They eagerly await each new season and frequently discuss what’s happening. To them, it’s a guilty pleasure. Are they just idiots? Is MTV irresponsible for producing Jersey Shore? It’s not exactly high brow, after all. What if people start thinking they should be drunk all the time and show up late for work (because Snooki does that – or at least she did in the episode I saw)?

Those seem like silly questions, but last week’s heated discussion about rape and forced seduction made me think about how we get caught up in similar debates about romance novels all the time. Over the years I’ve seen it take many incarnations. Sometimes it’s that an author is stupid, or her writing is terrible, and anyone who reads and enjoys her books must be a moron. Sometimes something about the book is irresponsible – the way they handle a social issue or illness. The sexual behavior of the hero and heroine. Irresponsible and stupid lead to “bad,” and sometimes, to “dangerous.”

(more…)

Fess Up: Did You Read Them Too?

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

ArizonaI’m talking about Dana Fuller Ross’s Wagons West books. I did. All twenty-four of them, and then some of The Holts: An American Dynasty too. When I was a teenager, I was initially afraid of what people would think if I looked in the actual romance section (I’m not sure who I was afraid of, but that’s a question for another day). Because of that, I ate up historical novels. I’d comb through my favorite octagon-shaped B. Dalton on El Toro Road, looking for anything that looked a) historical and b) romantic but was c) not actually a romance. Of course I found Wagons West sooner rather than later, and devoured them all during my high school years.

The Wagons West books had everything. No literally, everything. Wagon trains, gunfights, sex, prostitutes, good Indians and bad Indians (no one was a Native American; it was 1840-something). Love triangles galore. Eventually, gold and silver mining, civilization, saloons (with more prostitutes), and railroads.

The initial premise was that a wagon train was going to Oregon, picking up groups of people along the way. It actually took them four books to get there, which seems impossible now, but there was a lot of sex and violence to accomplish along the way. Plus secret agents from three different countries (or was it four? I forget) were trying to sabotage the American wagon train so they could bolster their own claims to Oregon.  Mostly I remember Cathy (whose sister Claudia marries Sam, the original leader of the wagon train). Cathy always had a thing with the dashing Whip Holt, but ends up marrying Lee Blake, the army guy. Whip marries Eulalia, ex-Southern belle captured by Indians and turned into a prostitute (and then saved!). Eventually Whip and Cathy die holding hands in an avalanche, and Eulalia hooks up with Lee. You couldn’t make this stuff up, but of course someone did.

(more…)

Reviewer’s Choice: Our 2011 Favorites

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

It’s that time of the year – when we get to celebrate our favorites and do nothing but gush. As usual, everyone picks one favorite (but can also mention their favorite runners up).

This year is similar to last in a few ways: Historicals seem to be carrying the day for many of us, and there isn’t a lot of consensus. Only two books received more than one top nod, and our winner  received only three. Though a majority are historicals, our choices include some paranormals, Urban Fantasy, and YA. Here are the books that had us sighing with pleasure and turning pages into the night in 2011:

Louise: The best books that I read this year were not 2011 books, so I had trouble with both the poll and this question.  I guess if I was going to name the best 2011 book that I read there would give a slight edge to Jamie MacGuire’s Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire – a great story about two people who are both scarred from their pasts and who become something of a train wreck as a couple until they learn to work things out and realize how much better they are together than apart.

I also loved Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison – an all around great book – clever, funny, steamy, romantic, plus a great starting place for a new series.  I guess a third choice would be Spellweaver by Lynn Kurland because as a fan of the series, this book was one I anxiously waited for and thoroughly enjoyed.  It is hard to place it on a “best book” list, though, because it is really part two of three and the story wasn’t complete until the third part.

Bessie: I haven’t been reading a lot of straight romance.  This year has been catching up with some series of urban fantasy.  The new series that was the most fun is by Kevin Hearne -The Iron Druid Chronicles. Atticus is a 2000 year old druid who looks like a 20-something slacker.  He runs an occult bookshop in Arizona and lives with his Irish wolfhound Oberon.  They share and psychic bond and have some hilarious conversations.  The first three titles were all published in 2011: Hounded, Hexed and Hammered.  Number 4 is coming out this spring: Tricked. The other series that I zipped through was the Cal and Niko Leandros series by Rob Thurman. Blackout came out in 2011.

(more…)