TBR Challenge: Modern Love

bestworst It’s always a bit of a scramble for me to find a contemporary romance for this prompt, because I don’t read them very often and don’t own many. And I like to choose my challenge books from books I already have, as buying something new rather defeats the object of the exercise! Fortunately, I found Sarah Mayberry’s Her Best Worst Mistake among my Kindle books; I know she’s a popular and highly-rated author, so that was it, job done and choice made.

The story is pretty much a classic enemies-to-lovers one, which is a trope I enjoy when it’s done well – and that’s certainly the case here. But even in a relatively small page count (170 pages), the author has done more than simply write a couple that gripes, snipes and then falls into bed with each other; she’s fleshed out both protagonists in such a way that it’s easy to see why these two people who, at first glance, are completely and utterly wrong for each other are actually so perfect together.

Violet Sutcliffe really can’t understand what her best friend Elizabeth sees in Martin St. Clair, the man to whom she’s been engaged for a number of years and is on the verge of marrying. In Violet’s opinion, Martin is old before his time; a stuffy stick-in-the-mud, he’s leeched the life out of Elizabeth, who seems intent on becoming the perfect corporate wife. Violet supposes Martin must make her friend happy on some level, but even after six years, isn’t able to tamp down the strong reactions he evokes in her or curtail her persistent need to provoke him. She tries, for Elizabeth’s sake… but rarely succeeds. Violet is a free spirit, a “wild-child” type who often says and does outrageous things as well as dressing, in Martin’s opinion, like a cheap tart. He’s as antipathetic towards her as she is to him, but plays nice for Elizabeth’s sake, knowing that Violet is like a sister to her.

But with six weeks to go before the wedding, Elizabeth makes a discovery that changes the course of her life. She calls everything off, breaks up with Martin and flies out to Australia in order to find the father she never knew – leaving Violet inwardly cheering at her decision to take charge of her life. But even though Violet has never liked Martin, she can’t help feeling sorry that he was dumped so summarily and maybe feels just a bit guilty for the fact that she’s happy about it; so for reasons she doesn’t really understand, she turns up at his office some weeks later with a peace offering – a bottle of the peach schnapps she’s remembered he particularly likes – wanting to make sure he’s okay. Continue reading

Posted in Book news, Caz AAR, Lynn AAR, Romance reading | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Eagerly Awaited Books – May 2016

We’re already thinking ahead to May books here at AAR. We all looked over the list of upcoming releases and had quite a few to add to our to-buy lists.


We’re excited to read Only Beloved, the latest entry in Mary Balogh‘s Survivor’s Club series.

  • Lee: I always make a point of always reading Balogh’s books.
  • Mary: Balogh is an autobuy for me. I have read all of the Survivor’s books and liked them all, so I don’t believe I will be disappointed in this new one.
  • Maggie: I’ve been eagerly awaiting this novel for what feels like forever. What attracts me to this is of course, the author, but also the older hero and heroine. The Duke of Stanbrooke could have his choice of the Season’s finest – so why do his thoughts keep returning to the small town music teacher he met so briefly a year ago?
  • Caz: George is the glue that holds the Survivor’s Club together but his own tragedies have yet to be explored.

Continue reading

Posted in All About Romance, Eagerly Awaiting | 12 Comments

YA: It Doesn’t Always Have to Break Your Heart

Caroline: I was a teenager when I first read Harry Potter, and I remember how completely shocked and stricken I was by the death of Cedric Diggory. He was the first “on-camera” death in that series, a few books in, and since the first three books were spooky but not grim this sudden shift in tone took me by surprise. And more was to come: at that point, the last book hadn’t even been written, and it killed far more folks than Cedric. While I felt that I could handle it, I was disappointed by the change in a series I’d started to love for an entirely different reason. More, I worried about the kids younger than me who were reading these books.

It seems to me that in the years since the bloodbath of the battle for Hogwarts, bloodier and bloodier things have been classified as YA, mostly in the fantasy-sci fi areas. I tried a few well-rated books recently (An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir and The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh), and while both are generally well executed, I was emotionally beat up by them. An Ember in the Ashes opens with the heroine witnessing the throat-slitting murder of her grandmother and grandfather. Later, the hero has to lead some classmates in a tournament battle to the death against his (female) best friend, who  is commanding another group of classmates. Anyone who holds back is magically choked to death by the mages running the tournament. The Wrath and the Dawn is a Scheherazade-Arabian Nights story, so the hero murdered previous wives (he’s given a reason, which wasn’t as convincing as I’d like), and the characters during the current story fight and kill as well. Add this to Kiera Cass’s The Siren, about a heroine who has to sing people to their deaths in shipwrecks, and I’m exhausted. While I gave The Siren a B, I didn’t review the other two (they were personal reading, not review copies, so I wasn’t obligated). I was so tired of living in these worlds that I couldn’t face going back to review them, especially since I’d have to read the sequels to find out if the romances end happily.

My feelings aside, the purpose of this post isn’t to bash dark books. It’s to help readers who aren’t looking for one find what they do want. There are times when I want to read or recommend to a young person a book that doesn’t have a body count in the dozens, hundreds, or thousands, and it’s surprisingly hard to find them. I asked around AAR for some recommendations for fantasy or science fiction with less (although not necessarily no) violence and death. And of course, ones with romances, because this is AAR. Continue reading

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Edge of Obsession: The DIK of the Week

I follow Jill Sorenson on Twitter and, a few days ago, this Tweet popped up in her feed.Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 10.12.01 PM



I clicked on the Goodreads link and began reading her review. When I got to the statement “this is the hottest book I’ve read in a long time,” I headed to Amazon and one clicked. Hey! I was curious.

I began the book that evening and stayed up until after one, unable to put it down until I got to its end. Yes. I read Edge of Obsession obsessively and I enjoyed the hell out of it. Continue reading

Posted in Books with Buzz, Dabney AAR, DIK | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Outlander, Old Skool Romance, and Female Pleasure: A Guest Post by Kiersten Hallie Krum

I had lunch this past Sunday in Lambertville, New Jersey with my aunt and uncle. It’s a good midway point for me and my mother—they come up from the Philadelphia suburbs and we come down from the northeast corner of New Jersey—plus, who doesn’t like Lambertville? While we do this every six weeks or so, it was special this time around as we were having a small celebration for the publication of my romantic suspense novel, Wild on the Rocks.

We were chatting about my book, and my aunt cheerfully brought up how an old friend of hers who I’d met in my childhood, read “those books” back in the day. She name checked The Wolf and the Dove and I immediately did the adult professional writer, lifelong romance reader version of SQUEE!

Give Joanna Lindsey her due—and I did, plus a great deal of my money from my after-school job—but Kathleen E. Woodiwiss was la dame romance for me when I started reading romance novels around the age of eleven or twelve (I was quite the precocious child.) Shanna and The Wolf and the Dove were my top favorites of her canon, much to my parent’s chagrin, believe me. Continue reading

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Steals and Deals

This week has great steals and deals. Click on the book covers to go to Amazon.

Thanks and happy reading.

Caroline Linden’s I Love the Earl is just 1.99. We haven’t reviewed this one but we’ve given many of her other works high marks. Here’s the description from Amazon. Many other books are currently 4.99 which is still a good deal!

Margaret de Lacey has accepted her unmarried state with dignity, if not delight. She had no suitors when she was young and starry-eyed, though regrettably poor, and it’s unlikely any man will court her now that she’s older, wiser, and still just as penniless. Until, that is, her brother unexpectedly inherits the dukedom of Durham and settles an enormous dowry on her, making her the most eligible heiress in town. No gentleman in London is more in need of a wealthy bride than Rhys Corwen, Earl of Dowling. He contrives an introduction to Margaret because of her dowry, but she swiftly sets him right: no fortune hunter will win her heart or her hand. Far from put off, Rhys is intrigued. Interested. Entranced. And soon the only thing he needs more than Margaret’s fortune . . . is her love.

Continue reading

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Love Poems We Love

In honor of April being National Poetry Month, I asked some of the AAR staffers to share their favorite romantic poetry. As it turns out, our staff shares a love of poems, both classic and contemporary. There were so many excellent suggestions that I can’t include them all, so there are links to even more. If you would like to celebrate National Poetry Month with a bit of romance, here are some of their picks.


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Posted in Haley AAR | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Sara Shares Her Love of Outlander

Outlander Season 2Readers, it’s time for a confession.

“Hello, my name is Sara and I didn’t like the book Outlander.”

Please, before you click away, give me a moment to explain. When I first read Outlander, I was just shy of eighteen years old and had just begun to read Romance. (I was die hard Sci-Fi/Fantasy reader). I had no favorite writers, no genre I preferred and I based a lot of my choices on what my friends were reading. I finally went to my mother, a long time Romance reader, and asked for a recommendation. The first book she pulled off the shelf was Outlander. Continue reading

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Very Short Love Stories: #5WordRomanceNovel

Earlier this week, the Twitter hashtag #5WordRomanceNovel was trending. People took to the social media platform to try their hand at micro storytelling. The results were both sweet, funny, dirty, or downright self-promotion as many companies used the trend to push their brand. Such an abbreviated formatted let me see how different Twitter users viewed romance. There were famous quotes from literature, plenty of talk about men doing housework, and an overwhelming love of pizza. I collected just a handful of tweets from this trend that I enjoyed.

Let’s get the pizza love out of the way first.

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Posted in Contests, Haley AAR | Tagged , | 3 Comments

From Books to Burton

Two books are making their way from page to screen via Tim Burton productions in the coming months. On May 27 Alice Through the Looking Glass brings viewers a sequel to the 2010 Alice in Wonderland and what appears to be a very loose, really barely related, version of Lewis Carroll’s classic Through the Looking-Glass.  Burton is not directing Looking Glass but, from the previews (which can be seen here), it appears that the film continues his dark and fantastical style. Continue reading

Posted in Haley AAR, Maggie AAR, Movies | Tagged , , | 3 Comments