Archive for the ‘All About Romance’ Category

Looking for 2013 Category Romance Recommendations

Friday, December 20th, 2013

suddenly you For years one of the more difficult categories in the AAR Annual Reader Poll was the Best Category Romance. It was never a certain thing that we would be able to announce a winner. Why? Because readers split their votes among a lot of different titles. Not surprising given how many category romances get published in a year. Last year, we were delighted when the category not only wasn’t a problem but was included on many readers’ ballots. We’re hoping things stay that way for the 2013 poll as well.

We pollsters (Cindy, LeeB, and myself) figured out that one of the problems with the category was that on the ballot (prior to last year’s poll) it had been labeled “Best Series Romance.” Well, many readers voted for things like the In Death series by JD Robb, and JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, and….you get the idea. No, this category in the Annual Poll is designed to feature the best of category romance; series category books published by Harlequin, Mills & Boon, Entangled, etc. So we changed the name on the ballot last year with a brief definition and believe that helped.

But we don’t think it was just the change in title that helped. It seemed as if a whole flurry of category romance authors caught the attention of AAR’s readers last year, chief among them Sarah Mayberry. (more…)

It’s the Holiday Season – But We’re Still Opening Special Title Lists!

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

suggestionbox So here we are in the thick of Holiday season and you have groceries to buy, baked goods to prepare, gifts to buy, decorate the house inside and out, buy a new dress for that annual Holiday party, all while trying to keep your home in tip top shape in case you get the lovely drop in. We here are AAR believe you could use a little ‘you’ time without a Christmas thought barreling through your head so we have opened 3 new Categories for the Special Title Listing and there isn’t a single Christmas theme in any of them! (more…)

Heads Up! The Annual AAR Reader Poll is Coming

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

winteriscoming Can you believe that in less than a month we will be celebrating a new year? Before that, we hope that many of you will have lots of free time during the holiday season with more time to read. So, with those wonderful thoughts of time to yourself running through your head we would like to remind you that on January 13, 2014 we will open AAR’s Annual Reader Poll for romance books published in 2013. That’s right, it’s time to buckle down and read those “to be read” books of 2013.

This year’s poll will be a bit different from previous years as we lay to rest a few categories that AAR readers have shown little interest in (Guiltiest Pleasure, Best Inspirational and Most Disappointing) while adding/changing categories that we hope will spark some interest.

First we are going to split the Paranormal category into two new categories: Best Paranormal/Time Travel Romance and Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Romance. The paranormal romance has come to encompass so many different creatures, magical abilities and types of world building that we wanted to try and give our readers more room to vote for their favorite books. (more…)

Top 100 Poll – The Best of the Rest

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

dukeofherown Now that you’ve all had time to look over the results of the 2013 Top 100 Poll, it’s time to take a look at something many of you asked for, the romances that missed the top 100, but are in places 101 to 200. And since ballots from readers contained 4,961 titles which received at least one vote, being in 200th place is still a remarkable achievement.

A number of titles in the 101-200th places are by authors who also had titles in the top 100. For example, Mary Balogh had five titles place in the top 100 and has an additional five in the second 100. Elizabeth Hoyt had two titles in the top 100 and an additional seven in the second 100. And Lisa Kleypas had 12 in the top 100 and another six in the second hundred. (more…)

Special Title Listings Updated!

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

caressedbyice Whenever we look at the nominations for a currently open Special Title Listing, we are thrilled at how divergent the entries are. Each and every time, there are classics that for some reason no-one had thought of before, there are well-loved novels that were published during the last ten years or so, and there are recent books that have already made a great impact.

Taking the Virginal Heroes, there is Scaramouche, from Rafael Sabatini’s swashbuckling romances of the 1920s. There are Nalini Singh’s Judd Lauren from Caressed by Ice, and the Earl of Ardmore from Eloisa James’s Kiss Me, Annabel – both books were published in the 2000s. As for 2013 novels, there are Kaleb Krycheck from Heart of Obsidian (also by Singh), and Samuel Cooke from Courting Greta by Ramsey Hootman.

Newly entered classics on the May-Dec/Dec-May list are Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman (1947), Arabella by Georgette Heyer (1949), Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart (1956), and The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren (1974), an early male-male romance.
(more…)

TBR Challenge – Can’t Escape the Hype

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

exclusivelyyours This month’s TBR Challenge was to find a book that got inescapable buzz. As it turns out, I have had one sitting in my Kindle for ages, waiting for that perfect time to be read. When Carina Press launched back in 2010, one of their debut titles, Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey generated lots of chatter almost from the beginning and it filled my Twitter stream for months. In fact, this title generated so much buzz and so many sales that it ended up being picked up for reissue in print by HQN. As it turns out, it ended up being the perfect companion for me as I sat through my 3 hour glucose test(ah, the joys of pregnancy.) If you like single-title contemporaries, this one is a cute, light-hearted read. I’d give it a B+ for the huge smile it left on my face.

The basic set-up is this: Hero and heroine fall in love in high school. Heroine wants a life outside of small-town New England and she takes off for the West Coast, where she starts to build a career for herself writing for celebrity tabloids. Hero, meanwhile, goes on to become a famous author and also notoriously reclusive in his private life. (more…)

What If? Another Look at the Top 100 Poll

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

calculator Since we posted the results of the 2013 Top 100 Poll readers have had many suggestions for alternative ways the results might be tabulated. We decided it might be fun to look at some of these alternatives. We discovered that with each of these different methods, the original results – calculated in the usual way of fully weighting however many titles a reader lists – are pretty robust.

We looked at some alternative methods of calculating the results based on reader comments: (1) only assigning a weight to the first 50 titles on a ballot, with anything between 51-100 assigned a weight of one; (2) only counting and assigning a weight to the first 50 titles on a ballot; and (3) only counting and assigning a weight to the first 25 titles on a ballot. (more…)

The Wait is Over – Here are Your 2013 Top 100 picks!

Monday, November 11th, 2013

The wait is over! We are pleased to announce the results of our Top 100 AAR Romance Poll here(and we also have a more printer-friendly version.)

In the past, and quite possibly right this minute, when we’ve posted the results of the Top 100 Polls and the Annual Reader polls a frequent reaction for our readers has been, “I didn’t vote for any of those books!” So we thought it might be fun to see how the AAR staffers’ Top Ten romances matched up with the results of the 2013 Top 100 Poll. We suspect the results are probably similar to how many of your results matched up, meaning some yes, some no, some none at all.

Of the Top Ten books chosen by readers in the 2013 Top 100 Poll, AAR staffers’ combined choices matched up with four books: Romancing Mr. Bridgerton was chosen by three staff members (13%), and Lord of Scoundrels, Slightly Dangerous and Outlander by two staff members (9%).

Of the other Top Ten books, Devil in Winter, Flowers from the Storm, Dreaming of You, and The Viscount Who Loved Me only appeared on one AAR staff member’s Top Ten list, while The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie was not listed on anyone’s Top Ten, though it did show up elsewhere in our Top 100 ballots. Meanwhile, the book that garnered the most votes (5) by AAR Staff members was J.R. Ward’s Lover Awakened which landed in 34th place.

All in all, 46 of the books in the final Top 100 were actually picked by at least one AAR staff member.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the final Top 100. Did any of the titles on your ballot make the final Top 100? Which authors or titles were you surprised to see or not to see on the list?

And what about the “Best of the Rest,” or the titles in positions 101-200? Check back here over the next month for some additional analyses of the Top 100.

– Lee, Cindy and LinnieGayl

Eagerly Awaited December Books

Friday, November 8th, 2013

As we coast into the holidays, December is looking like it will shape up to be a slower reading month for many of us here at AAR. I’d love to get my hands on a good meaty historical, but those seem to be perilously thin on the ground lately. Several of us are happy to see new releases from Anne Stuart and Connie Brockway, and we’ve still got several other books we’re looking for on shelves as well. What about you? Looking forward to any end of the year reading?

Title and Author Reviewer
No Place for a Dame by Connie Brockway No Place for a Dame by Connie Brockway Lynn, Lee, Caz
Never Trust a Pirate by Anne Stuart Never Trust a Pirate by Anne Stuart Lea, Caz, Cindy
The Devil Wears Kilts by Suzanne Enoch The Devil Wears Kilts by Suzanne Enoch Caz, Lee
No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean Dabney, Caz
Passion and Peril by Suzanne Brockmann and Jill Sorenson Passion and Peril by Suzanne Brockmann and Jill Sorenson Rike. Lynn
The Heart of a Duke by Victoria Morgan The Heart of a Duke by Victoria Morgan Lee, Caz
Running From Scandal by Amanda McCabe Running From Scandal by Amanda McCabe Lynn
Heirs of the Body by Carola Dunn Heirs of the Body by Carola Dunn Rike
Wild Justice by Kelley Armstrong Wild Justice by Kelley Armstrong Maggie
Out to Lunch by Stacey Ballis Out to Lunch by Stacey Ballis Lee
Caught Up in You by Beth Andrews Caught Up in You by Beth Andrews Rike
Christmas at the Castle by Marian Lennoc Christmas at the Castle by Marian Lennox Caroline
Wake to Darkness by Maggie Shayne Wake to Darkness by Maggie Shayne Maggie

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