Tricky Dicks: The Worst Politicians in Romance and YA Literature

With the American election season already burning up the internet and my television screen seemingly constantly turned to pundits talking politicians, I thought it might be time to talk leadership. Specifically, the kind of leadership we see between the pages of a book. In this blog I’ll be focusing on the bad, some of them really bad. Thanks to the recent rage of dystopian novels I have several truly murderous politicos to pick from. But you don’t have to ruin an entire nation or world to make my list; some of these guys are just good old fashioned thieves or charming local criminals.

Below are my picks for the worst politicos I’ve come up against in the last few decades of reading popular fiction genres. Continue reading

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DIKlassic: Song of Seduction by Carrie Lofty

Grade: A-

Sensuality: Hot

Publication date: June 2010

European historicals set outside Great Britain are rare, and those set in countries other than France, Italy, and Greece are close to extinct. Carrie Lofty’s Song of Seduction is set in 1804 Salzburg, and merely reading about it got me salivating. It proved a rich meal: Tightly written, well-researched, and as moving and romantic as I could have wished. Continue reading

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Short but Sweet? A Look at a Few M/M Novellas and Short Stories.

I admit I often by-pass short stories and novellas, as I really like a novel I can get my teeth into and be completely absorbed by.

Happily, there are times when a cover, an author or a blurb has attracted me. Otherwise, I would have missed some gems.


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The Biggest Gamble: A Guest Post (and a giveaway)

Hi everyone! Rose Lerner here. I’m so excited to be back and talking about my new historical romance anthology Gambled Away. Joanna Bourne, Isabel Cooper, Jeannie Lin, Molly O’Keefe and I each contribute a story in which one character wins another in a game of chance (one of my favorite tropes!)

Since we just came out with a book all about gamblers taking huge risks, perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised when Dabney asked, us “What’s the biggest gamble you’ve taken, yourselves?” Continue reading

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Alex Markov: Dreamboat or Douchebag?

In another of our occasional series in which we discuss the merits – or lack thereof – of fictional heroes and heroines, AAR staffers turn their attention to Alex Markov of Kiss an Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

The book taps into the classic “arranged marriage” trope. The two protagonists, Daisy and Alex, are blackmailed into marriage by a third party: Daisy’s dad. Daisy agrees in order to avert legal trouble and avoid prison. For Alex Markov, this was his year for paying off big debts, first with his deathbed promise to Owen Quest to take the circus out for its last season under the Quest name, and then by agreeing to marry Max’s daughter. In all these years Max had never asked one thing of him as repayment for having saved Alex’s life, but when he’d finally gotten around to it, he’d asked for a doozy. Continue reading

Posted in Anne AAR, Caroline AAR, Characters, Dabney AAR, Dreamboat or Douchebag, Haley AAR, Heroes, LinnieGayl AAR, Maggie AAR, Mary AAR | Tagged , | 23 Comments

An Interview (and a giveaway) with Anne Calhoun

I am an Anne Calhoun fan. Uncommon Passion is one of my favorite romances and, even when I don’t think her books are that good, I almost always enjoy them. Her parsing of what men and women feel for and do to each other fascinates me. She has a new book out which I very much like–Under the Surface–and which we review today.

Ms. Calhoun gracefully agreed to answer some of my questions about her new book, a tightly written, anxiety producing romantic suspense story with a sexually assertive heroine and an appealing undercover hero. Continue reading

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Cross-Country House Party: A Guest Post (and a giveaway) from Bronwyn Scott and Marguerite Kaye

Scandal at the Midsummer Ball had its genesis when we received a house party invitation from Harlequin. The details were sketchy, we were provided with a picture of the venue, the name of our host, some suggested dates, and a mood board. We share an Editor and we’d worked together previously on the Castonbury Park series, but we’d never actually spoken, far less met, and we live on different continents and inhabit different time zones. But right from the start, the idea of jointly creating a Regency house party that was scandalous, romantic and sexy, really appealed to both of us. We wanted our stories to be fun, and we were also determined to have fun writing them.Screenshot 2016-05-30 09.59.27

And boy, did we! Our duet would share a common cast of colourful characters and span a week-long series of sumptuous events. Two distinctly separate romances would be played out, but we wanted our characters to meet, converse together, socialise, and be free to wander in and out of each other’s stories. Continue reading

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Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas: A DIK Review

Marrying Winterbornethe second book in Lisa Kleypas’s dearly anticipated Ravenels series, begins with Lady Helen Ravenel calling on Rhys Winterborne, a man to whom she was briefly engaged. As almost anyone who read the first book, A Cold Hearted Rake, will tell you, Rhys and Helen utterly upstaged that story’s lovers and left historical romance readers longing for more.

And more, wonderfully more, readers do indeed get. Marrying Winterborne is as engrossing a story as any of Ms. Kleypas’s earlier works–my favorite is It Happened One Autumn–and, in it, her writing is as good as it’s ever been.  Continue reading

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Eagerly Awaiting for June 2016

Here’s our monthly look at what titles we’re excited about reading in the next few weeks.  June boasts some highly anticipated titles by some of the biggest names in historical romance -Lisa Kleypas and Elizabeth Hoyt – as well as new books from Nalini Singh, Sarah Morgan, Jennifer Probst and sees Julie Anne Long making her début as an author of contemporary romance.

Here’s just a small selection of the titles AAR staffers are looking forward to getting stuck into.  Do you agree with us, or do you have some goodies to add to our TBRs?


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Remembering Jo Beverley

jbWe were saddened to hear about historical romance author Jo Beverley’s death yesterday. (You can read about her and her passing at the Word Wenches blog.) Ms. Beverley was a giant in her field. She wrote over 40 historical romances and won five RITA awards. She is one of only 18 writers inducted into the RWA Hall of Fame. Ms. Beverley was a frequent poster on our boards and several of our staff have lovely memories of her and her books.

Maggie Boyd:

On our own boards Jo once said,  “I like my romance rich and over the top“.  She certainly seemed to write to that criteria. My very first Jo Beverley novel was A Most Unsuitable Man. While I  list several of her books among my favorites, this is the book that got me hooked on this particular author. I think what I loved most about the tale was the high drama and the wonderful hero. Fitzroger was strong, brave, resolute and heroic. He became heroine Damaris’ champion not by fighting a villain for her but by saving her from embarrassment. It sounds a little thing but I think all of us could use just such a hero from time to time. And the story was just how Jo described her own favorites – rich with romance and over the top adventure. Continue reading

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