Confessions of a Settings Junkie

I feel like I have been waiting on Connie Brockway’s The Songbird’s Seduction forever even though the truth is I have only had it on order since early June. I’m not typically a fan of Ms. Brockway’s but my keen desire for the book comes from three key factors: It involves a treasure, foreign locations and the Edwardian era. While one of those is an issue of plotting (treasure), the other two factors are issues of setting. And the fact is I’m a settings junkie. Continue reading

You Never Forget Your First

Sweet-Savage-LoveHere at All About Romance, our team of reviewers is dedicated to the romance genre. We read, review, and keep up with the goings on of all things romance. We’ve even had quite a few people who turned to writing romance as well. I wouldn’t call us romance addicts, per say, but we definitely have a strong habit. Like any good addiction hobby, there had to be a first time that captured our attention and made us life-long romance lovers. Continue reading

A Formula for Romance… Novels

Math_FormulaCritics of romance novels often cite a long list of problems with the books and one of the most frequently used is that the books are formulaic. Some authors embrace that idea and give a guide to what they think of as “the formula” such as Paula Graves or Rita Clay Estrada and Rita Gallagher. Others like Anne Gracie heartily reject the idea. Harlequin calls it a format and insists that all genres use such a tool. Continue reading

Checking in with Sarah MacLean

imageI was lucky enough to get a chance to sit down and chat with Sarah MacLean while at RWA. (This was before she won the RITA for best historical romance!) I wanted to follow up with her. I’d talked to her in December of 2013 about her challenge to The New York Times and that paper’s dismissal of romance. Since then, Sarah has been writing a regular column for the NYT’s rival, The Washington Post, about–gasp–romance novels.  Continue reading

Eagerly Awaited September Books

So I blinked and…summer’s almost over already! And just as I was getting used to the sun and the heat. As we cruise into September, there are quite a few historicals that have folks here on staff excited (yay!) and we’re keeping up with new installments in some beloved series. However, the big news for most here at AAR would be the arrival of a long-anticipated new release from contemporary romance favorite Susan Elizabeth Phillips. So, what are you looking for this September?

Title and Author Reviewer
Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips Dabney, Lee, LinnieGayl, Alex, Mary, Shannon, Caroline, Lea, Haley
What I Love About You by Rachel Gibson What I Love About You by Rachel Gibson Mary, Lea, Dabney, Haley, Heather
The Songbird's Seduction by Connie Brockway The Songbird’s Seduction by Connie Brockway Lynn, Lee, Caroline
Festive in Death by JD Robb Festive in Death by J.D. Robb Blythe, Maggie
Once More My Darling Rogue by Lorraine Heath Once More, My Darling Rogue by Lorraine Heath Haley, Caz
Wood Sprites by Wen Spencer Wood Sprites by Wen Spencer Maggie, Anne
Winning Ruby Heart by Jennifer Lohmann Winning Ruby Heart by Jennifer Lohmann LinnieGayl, Lynn
A Scandal to Remember by Elizabeth Essex A Scandal to Remember by Elizabeth Essex Caz, Dabney
Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs Heather, Maggie
The Laird by Grace Burrowes The Laird by Grace Burrowes Mary, Caz
The Secret Place by Taa French The Secret Place by Tana French Dabney, Lynn
What a Duke Dares by Anna Campbell What a Duke Dares by Anna Campbell Caz, Mary
Enchantress by Maggie Anton Enchantress by Maggie Anton Melanie, Caroline
Lisette's List by Susan Vreeland Lisette’s List by Susan Vreeland Shannon
Honor by Lyn Cote Honor by Lyn Cote Lynn
Night's Honor by Thea Harrison Night’s Honor by Thea Harrison Jean
What I Remember Most by Cathy Lamb What I Remember Most by Cathy Lamb Lee
Aunty Lee's Deadly Specials by Ovidia Yu Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials by Ovidia Yu Caroline
Close to Home by Lisa Jackson Close to Home by Lisa Jackson Shannon
Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh Cindy
Ghost Layer by Robin D. Owens Ghost Layer by Robin D. Owens Melanie
Honeymoon Hotel by Hester Browne Honeymoon Hotel by Hester Browne Lee
Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover Anne
House Immortal by Devon Monk House Immortal by Devon Monk Shannon
Vampire Secretary, Vol. 7 by Tomu Ohmi Midnight Secretary, Vol. 7 by Tomu Ohmi Caroline
The Winter Long by Seanan McGuire The Winter Long by Seanan McGuire Heather
A Home For Her Heart by Janet Lee BArton A Home for Her Heart by Janet Lee Barton Anne
The Maiden of Ireland by Susan Wiggs The Maiden of Ireland(re-release of The Mist and the Magic) by Susan Wiggs Lynn
Superman/Wonder Woman: Power Couple by Charles Soule Superman/Wonder Woman: Power Coupleby Charles Soule Caroline
Season of Storms by Susanna Kearsley Season of Storms(reissue) by Susanna Kearsley Heather, Melanie

Is that a sword in your pocket?

Michael-Douglas-and-Kathleen-Turner-in-Romancing-the-Stone-1984-Movie-Image-200x277In the early days of romance adventure stories were a fairly standard part of the landscape. One need look no further than Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women edited by Jayne Ann Krentz to read all about the risk takers and adventurers who peopled the books of the late eighties and early nineties. Then the tide changed and books which had once been full of daring exploits in exotic locales began to revolve around balls, spies, and familiar locations like Western Europe or America. The disappearance of the swashbuckler occurred so long ago I had actually forgotten how much I loved those old tales. Continue reading

TBR Challenge – Heating Up the Summer

shiver As summer comes to an end, I’ve been challenged to read a book with luscious love scenes. I immediately thought of Harlequin’s Blaze line, and grabbed Shiver by Jo Leigh, a 2010 release that is still available digitally. Though the story wasn’t quite as steamy as I’d expected, I still ended up with a sexy, fun read, and I’d give it a B.

My first recommendation to readers? Don’t judge this one by its cover. It’s a lot more offbeat and fun than that somewhat generic picture would suggest. After all, the hero not only owns a supposedly haunted inn; he also makes independent documentary films. The semi-reclusive comic strip writer known for her snarky humor didn’t strike me as a run of the mill character either.

Both lead characters are city folk who have no intention of leaving their usual environment, but they’ve ended up at a quaint, haunted inn in Colorado for plausible enough reasons. Sam Crider has inherited the inn where he grew up, and he’s come home temporarily to run it while trying to sell. Carrie Sawyer, on the other hand, has only come to the Crider Inn as a somewhat reluctant guest. Continue reading

Fairytales in Romance

andrew-langs-fairy-booksFirst there were vampires, then zombies, and now fairy tale adaptions seem to be the new entertainment trend. The newest film adaptation of “Sleeping Beauty,” Maleficent, scored big at the box office and has added momentum to the fairy tale fad. Studios hoping to capitalize on this are already planning live-action versions of “Cinderella” and more than one “Beauty and the Beast.” I have been a fan of fairy tale retellings since childhood and have spent my life reading and watching them so, obviously, the renewed interest in fairy tales recently has been right up my alley. Although I wasn’t crazy about Maleficent (I think it took the bite out of an otherwise fantastic villainess), I was pleased to see one of my favorite fairy tales getting revamped.

Continue reading

50 Shades of Readers

VanGogh woman reading“All sentences are not created equal,” Jenny Davidson tells us in Reading Style: A Life in Sentences. Her tale is not so much about “which books must be read than about how to read.” Her main conversational point is the “sentence, sometimes the paragraph, its structure and sensibility, its fugitive feel on the tongue.” In other words, Ms. Davidson is talking about the value of a book derived not from the book’s life lessons or even overall cohesive tale but its structure – the beauty and efficacy of its prose. Continue reading

TBR Challenge – It’s RITA Time!

prospero Note: This year’s RITA awards will be held next week at the RWA National Conference, so the July multi-blog challenge is focusing on reading RITA nominees and winners.

My choice for the multi-blog TBR challenge was Prospero’s Daughter by Nancy Butler, a RITA award winner in 2004. I loved it – it’s a beautifully written and tender romance in which an ex-soldier helps a badly injured young woman to recapture her spirit and zest for life in the face of the neglect of her seemingly perfect family. Morgan Pearce is inveigled by a friend into visiting the friend’s father to assist him in writing his memoirs. Not long after his arrival, Morgan literally stumbles across a lonely young woman sitting in a bath chair in the gardens, seemingly abandoned. She is Miranda Runyon, a relative who lost her parents in an accident three years previously, and who was left seriously injured. Her family has basically shut her away and now ignores her existence, and Miranda, once a vital, independent young woman, has more or less given up. Continue reading