Defining Romance: Does RWA finally have it right?

RWA logoOn April 4, a message went up on the Romance Writers of America (RWA) blog: Important Message Regarding 2005 “Definition of Romance” Survey. Here’s what it said:

At the November 2015 Board of Directors meeting, one of the issues discussed was an RWA survey conducted in 2005. Though this occurred eleven years ago, the ill effects of that survey still linger for many members. The survey was included in the Romance Writers Report and asked RWA members to vote on whether romance should be redefined as being between one man and one woman. The survey responses were never acted upon, and RWA’s definition of romance was not changed.

The survey, however, sparked a discussion that compelled our LGBT+ members to justify their existence to others and to participate in debates about their humanity and their capacity to love. This incident was a low point from which RWA’s reputation has never recovered. The organization later reaffirmed RWA’s commitment to making sure that “any definition of romance should be broad and inclusive.” This statement, however, did not make it clear that, in issuing the survey, RWA failed its members, its genre and its mission. We want to make that clear now.

We apologize for letting our members down and for failing to treat all our members with the respect they deserve.

RWA is committed to creating an inclusive, respectful environment where all career-focused romance writers can advance their professional interests, regardless of the happily ever afters they create and celebrate.

Continue reading

Posted in Anne Marble, Defining Romance, Publishing, RWA | 10 Comments

Taboo for Teens


Readers of adult romances are likely used to seeing sex scenes in novels. While the genre ranges from chaste to naughty, the average contemporary romance will likely contain some amount of sexuality. When I made the switch from reading almost exclusively romance to a mix of romance and Young Adult, I couldn’t help but notice the stark difference in the approach to sexuality.

Now, that isn’t to say that books for teens should have long explicit sex scenes, like you’d find in adult erotica or the like, but it struck me as a bit odd that sex seemed to be so taboo for these fictional teens. I think that the Twilight is a good example, albeit very outdated at this point, because so many are familiar with the story. In the books, Bella is actively interested in furthering her and Edwards’s romantic encounters, and he is the one that holds back. There’s the issue that he might freak out and drink her blood that dampens the mood some, but he also wants to hold off and make it special. Continue reading

Posted in Haley AAR | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

A Roundtable Discussion on Lost Among the Living

Today, AAR Reviewers Maggie, Caz, Mary, Linniegayl and Melanie have AAR’s first ever Round Table Discussion. The book chosen is Simone St. James Lost Among the Living. Ms. St. James is a popular author with AAR staff having made several Top Ten lists in 2015 as well as having two DIK reviews on our site. Lost Among the Living is her most recent release and one that has been eagerly anticipated by many. Continue reading

Posted in Best of 2015, Best of List, Best of Romance, Caz AAR, LinnieGayl AAR, Maggie AAR, Mary AAR, Melanie AAR, Roundtable | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Are you reading the Mary Russell series? Because it’s great.

Has anyone here not read the Mary Russell series yet? If so, stop now and go find yourself a copy of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice and meet young Mary Russell, 15 years old and orphaned, and snarking at a much older Sherlock Holmes who has retired to Sussex and beekeeping. Pulling heavily from Doyle’s representation of Sherlock Holmes (and still acknowledging both Doyle and Watson as fiction writers and creators of the world’s view of Sherlock Holmes), Laurie R. King has given us a new character, and a new perspective, in the great wide world of Sherlock fanworks. Continue reading

Posted in Characters, Heroes, Heroines, Melanie AAR, Mysteries | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

An Interview (and a giveaway) with Caroline Linden

Dabney: I’m determined to keep this interview spoiler free. So, no mentioning who it is who writes the 50 Ways to Sin stories! But can I ask, did you know who the author was from the beginning of the series?

Caroline: Thank you for that! At the very beginning of Love and Other Scandals, the first book, I had not decided for sure, but by the end of the book I knew.

My other consideration for Lady Constance, by the way, was a totally new character who would have emerged during the series, not one of the existing characters. Continue reading

Posted in Authors, Dabney AAR, giveaways, Interviews | Tagged , , , | 26 Comments

And the winners of the AAR Annual Reader Poll 2016 are….

This year’s Annual Poll results are finally here. We thank the many many readers who responded to our survey. The format of taking nominees and then creating a ballot with the top vote getters was a success. Our hard working pollsters–thanks LinneGayl and Lee–tabulated thousands of votes. We plan to run our poll similarly next year.

We will make a few changes, however. It’s clear that allowing books to nominated in multiple categories can create a situation where one author and/or book wins big time. Which is what happened this year. (This will make you happy if you love Nalini Singh which, clearly, many many of our readers do.)

Here, then, are the winners of the 2016 Annual Reader Poll.

NOTE: Honorable mentions have traditionally been given when a book receives at least 80% of the votes of the winner.

Best Romance

Winner: Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh

Honorable Mention:  Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh (Our DIK review is here.)

Honorable Mention: A Seditious Affair by KJ Charles (Our DIK review is here.)


Favorite Funny Romance

Winner: My Kind of Wonderful by Jill Shalvis

Honorable Mention: Rock Hard by Nalini Singh (Our DIK review is here.)


 Favorite Tear-Jerker Romance

Winner: Only a Kiss by Mary Balogh (Our review is here.)

Honorable Mention: Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh


Most Luscious Love Story

Winner: Sweetest Scoundrel by Elizabeth Hoyt (Our review is here.)

Honorable Mention: Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh


Best Erotica / Romantica Romance

Winner: Harlot by Victoria Dahl

Honorable Mention: For Real by Alexis Hall



Most Tortured Romance Hero

Winner: Noah St. John in Rock Redemption by Nalini Singh (Our DIK reviews are here and here.)



Best Kick-Ass Heroine

Winner: Kate Daniels in Magic Shifts by Illona Andrews

Honorable Mention: Zaira in Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh


Best Romance Hero

Aden from Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh




Best Romance Heroine

Winner: Charlotte Baird from Rock Hard by Nalini Singh



Best Romance Couple

Winner: Aden and Zaira in Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh


Best Paranormal Romance

Winner: Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh

Honorable Mention: Magic Shifts by Illona Andrews



Best Fantasy Romance

Winner: Burned by Karen Marie Moning

Honorable Mention: Radiance by Grace Draven (Our DIK review is here.)


Best Science Fiction Romance

Winner: Sirens Call by Jayne Castle




Best Historical Romance set in the U.K.

Winner: Only a Kiss by Mary Balogh

Honorable Mention: A Seditious Affair by KJ Charles



Best Historical Romance set outside the U.K. 

Winner: This Gun for Hire by Jo Goodman (Our DIK review is here.)



Best Contemporary Romance

Winner: Rock Hard by Nalini Singh




Best Category Romance Book 

Winner: Playing by the Greek’s Rules by Sarah Morgan (Our review is here.)

Honorable Mention: Pursued by the Rogue by Kelly Hunter (Our DIK review is here.)


Best Romantic Suspense

Winner: Seduction Game by Pamela Clare (Our review is here.)

Honorable Mention: Dead by Midnight by Pamela Clare

Honorable Mention: The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James (Our DIK review is here.)

Honorable Mention: Consumed by Fire by Anne Stuart (Our review is here.)


Best LGBTQ+ Romance

Winners: (a tie): A Seditious Affair by K.J. Charles and Him by Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen



2015′s Best Debuting Romance Author

Winner: Anna Harrington




Best Young Adult Romance

Winner: The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas (Our DIK review is here.)




Best New Adult Romance 

Winner: Elements of Chemistry by Penny Reid

Honorable Mention: Trade Me by Courtney Milan

Honorable Mention: The Deal by Elle Kennedy (Our review is here.)



Best Romance Novella or Short Story

Winner: Lord Dashwood Missed Out by Tessa Dare 



Best Novel (non-romance) with strong romantic elements

Winner: If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins (Our DIK review is here.)

Posted in All About Romance, Annual Reader Poll, Best of 2015, Best of List, Best of Romance, Polls | 23 Comments

Love and Star Wars

Han and LeiaIt’s been long enough since the release of The Force Awakens that I feel it’s fair to write a post with a big fat spoiler about the movie and post it somewhere where viewers wouldn’t necessarily be on their guard. Still, if you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want to be spoiled, then sweet holy Moses, leave right now. (Which, by the way, is also my recommendation for the movie.)

Yep. I hated The Force Awakens. I hated it so much that I’d rather watch the prequels. The prequels were so laughably, outrageously bad that I can watch them without them affecting my love of the Star Wars universe. The Force Awakens was just well-made enough that my brain takes it seriously, which makes the utter betrayal of the violence, culminating in Han Solo’s murder, extraordinarily difficult to write out of my brain.

Star Wars (by which I mean the original trilogy) was grounded in love – friendly, fraternal, parental, and romantic. The plots of each film, and the fate of the galaxy, depends not on who has the most Force power and the best aim, but on who has the closest friends and the strongest relationships.The real cheering, fist-pump moment of Star Wars is not the destruction of the Death Star, but the swooping arrival of Han Solo HanSolo0221131_0and his conscience in the Millennium Falcon. The first threat in The Empire Strikes Back isn’t the Empire, but cold weather, and once again, there’s Han, taking on an impossible rescue of his closest human friend. Luke pays Han back when he abandons his training on Dagobah, a moment in which we see him choose serving humanity as he is over earning greater Force ability through hermitical monasticism (a message entirely fumbled in The Force Awakens). Lando, pulled into the rebellion by friendship. Luke and Leia, putting the fate of the galaxy on hold to get Han out of Jabba’s palace. Vader, realizing at the very end that he values his son over his master, his power, and his own life. And of course, Han and Leia, whose story I will get into in more depth later.

Love among the new cast in The Force Awakens is lucky. It’s merely superficial, so rushed it might end up in hyperspace. This is much more pleasant than what the writers do to love of longer, deeper standing, and relationships viewers have invested in for decades. This love is tortured. Relationships are estranged, shipped off to live in isolation, and of course, stabbed in the goddamn chest.

Because If you haven’t seen it, the spoiler of the move is this: Han and Leia split up because their son goes over to the Dark Side and murders all of the other Jedi training with Luke. Then murders Han, stabbing him in cold blood. Yes. Then throws him off off a bridge. Which is over a reactor, which is blown up. Then the planet that the reactor is on is blown up. You know, just in case we had any hope whatsoever.

Can you tell I’m pissed?

4-Hoth-Fight-CROPPEDHan and Leia’s romantic relationship was my first adult love story, and in many ways, it set the tone for what I expect and value. I want equals: Han can be part of the team that rescues Leia, but later, she’s going to be on the team that rescues him. I want snappy dialogue and sexy conversations. I want a couple that complements each other. Leia gives closet idealist Han a cause and the courage to stand for something greater than survival and a fast buck; Han gives the politician-rebel-princess a personal and emotional life. I want a relationship that isn’t confined by gender conventions. Strong, ideological Leia withstands torture by Darth Vader and delays evacuating a collapsing base so she can coordinate a rearguard action. She kills Jabba the Hutt with her bare hands and her own slave chain. Han, by contrast, is all heart. When Han is being lowered into carbon freeze and Leia blurts out, “I love you,” his iconic “I know” response is perhaps the most perfect, romantic understatement in film history.

The Force Awakens took that love, and stabbed it in the chest. And threw it off the bridge, and into the reactor, and so forth.

Kylo Ren, the son of Han and Leia, ruins this movie with his violent murder of a character I’ve loved for so many years that I almost see him as a friend. But even worse, the existence of such a son perverts Han and Leia’s love story in the previous films. I don’t require parenthood as part of my happily-ever-after, but if an author does take me into the future and give the characters children, I sure as hell don’t want them to be murderous psychos. If we accept The Force Awakens as the definitive canon timeline, then cheering Han and Leia back in the originals becomes a bit like pulling for Mr. and Mrs. Manson. Perhaps they had a delightful courtship, but you can’t help thinking that everybody would have been better off if those two hadn’t gotten together.

Turning Han Solo and Princess Leia into disastrously failed parents also guts our faith in their relationship. Darth Vader, with no father at all, could be redeemed from the Dark Side to save his son, but Kylo Ren, with two loving parents, could stab his father in cold blood? Shall we blame Leia, trotting out the old standbys of refrigerator mothers and career women? Do Kylo Ren’s hangups about weakness come from seeing his dad be Mr. Leia Organa, a loser without the Force who probably doesn’t make as much money as his political powerhouse wife? Shall we say that a couple which subverted gender expectations can’t successfully raise a child?

There are tragic, tragic interviews with parents of ISIS fighters, school shooters, and the like, which highlight the terrifying parenting possibility that you can’t truly control if your child grows up to be good human being. Perhaps The Force Awakens intended this narrative, rather than one of parent blaming (although, given the emphasis on Han in Kylo Ren’s rants, it seems unlikely). Imagine that it does. This is a gut-wrenching conflict. Give it more time and dialogue. If Han and Leia are going to be estranged by it, that’s something we viewers care about. The first trilogy took personal and emotional storylines seriously, as when the entire first third of Return of the Jedi was spent bringing Han and Leia back together. What a waste to take a relationship we’ve followed and cared about for decades, destroy it off-camera, and give it a minute of public reunion – less time than was spent chasing tentacle monsters around Han’s smuggling ship.

If you do decide that this is the right conflict for a Star Wars movie, then give it a happy ending. Have the courage to defy the obvious route to critical praise and the cheap and easy plot device, and be true to the trait that made you a beloved story for forty years. Because Star Wars means happy endings. It built its reputation and won its fans by being a universe that is safe for the people it encourages you to love. If you haven’t watched the original trilogy in a while, the gentleness will amaze you. These are the films to show children outgrowing kid’s movies who are still too young for the sex and violence of Bond-type adult action films. Alderaan is destroyed facelessly, from a distance (not with the gasping, horrified screams of doomed crowds in The Force Awakens). Leia is tortured so gently that her hair and dress are immaculate afterwards and she feels good enough to wisecrack about Luke’s height and lead an escape down a garbage chute. Obi-wan, Yoda, and Anakin die willingly and with meaning, and they don’t even have to miss the big party.

After watching The Force Awakens, I tried to convert my brain back to the alternate timeline of Star Wars novels. I couldn’t read them without picturing the movies and hurting all over again. I haven’t had the nerve to try watching the original trilogy, and I hope against hope that it hasn’t been stolen from me as well.

But for those of you fortunate enough not to have seen The Force Awakens, here are the novels which give Han and Leia a future to believe in. This alternate timeline seems now to be marketed as Star Wars Legends, so look for that tagging to see books which don’t follow The Force Awakens.

Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy (first book Heir to the Empire): the first major novel release after the original films, and still considered the best of the extended universe books. It’s the one we all really wanted to see made into a film, but that didn’t mesh with the actor’s new ages. A brilliant strategist named Grand Admiral Thrawn takes over the remnants of the retreating Empire and launches an attack on the New Republic, while Han, Leia, and Luke struggle to counter his moves with diplomatic, military, and Force strategies. Han and Leia welcome their twins, neither of which, thankfully, is named after anybody dead. Luke meets Mara Jade, who served the Emperor and despises him. Clearly she becomes his alternate timeline love interest, and is one of the few new characters introduced by any author to be so compelling that they turn up in books by other authors (although not everyone does her justice). The trilogy as a whole is a definite A read.

The Courtship of Princess Leia, by Dave Wolverton. Set before the Thrawn trilogy, Courtship is really… not that great. It reads a lot like someone who doesn’t quite understand romance novels trying to write one using stereotypes (“How about a rival prince? Hostility? Kidnapping!”). Leia is being pushed to marry the heir to a significant network of planets as a political alliance, so Han kidnaps her and takes her to a planet he won in a card game that turns out to be ruled by Force-wielding Amazons (because the Godwin’s Law of men writing science fiction is that eventually you will come to a planet of Amazons, and they will all want to have sex with you). There is some fun to be had, as Wolverton manages to capture the charming-yet-disaster-prone side of Han’s personality, and some of the Amazons come back as better characters in books by other authors.

Tatooine Ghost by Troy Denning: I have never read this book, and I’m so excited to learn that it exists! It has the best reputation of all Han and Leia stories around the Internet. Apparently the two of them are on their honeymoon trying to buy an artwork that contains an important code in it, which takes them to Tatooine and forces Leia to confront the history of the Skywalker family there. Apparently Denning did some cleanup of plot hole logic from other books, including courtship and the prequels (why did they try to hide Luke on his father’s home planet under the same last name?). I’m definitely ordering this one right now.

What about you guys? Do you love Han and Leia like I do? Did you hate The Force Awakens like I did? Why or why not?


Caroline Russomanno

Posted in Caroline AAR, Movies | Tagged , | 54 Comments

Want to write for us?

You read us. You trust our reviews and comment on our blogs and message boards. You like that we’re independent, that we don’t answer to publishers, authors, or a media company. You appreciate that we are a grassroots organization–our reviewers are regular people who, just like you, love romance. We write about romance because we love the genre and its readers. It’s our passion and, if it’s your passion too, we’d like you to be part of our team.

We’d like you to be smart, witty, enthusiastic, and willing to write at least a review and/or a blog a month. We’re interested in covering all sorts of romance and women’s fiction and so if you feel passionate about it, we want you to write about it. For us.

What’s in it for you? Besides fame (did you know we have almost 17K Twitter followers?) and the ability to share your take on the books you love (or hate)? Well, we will supply you with the books and who doesn’t like free books? We plan to, after our very exciting site reboot in June, to begin paying for reviews. And you’ll be part of one of the best working teams around.

If this sounds like your jam, here’s what you need to do. Send us (to two sample reviews, one of a book you love and one of a book you don’t. Let us know what subgenres you’re most interested in and how often you’d like to publish. We’ll get back to you within a week.


Dabney Grinnan

Publisher at AAR

Posted in All About Romance, Dabney AAR | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Sheikhen AND Stirred: A Guest Post (and giveaway) by Marguerite Kaye

the widow and the sheikhI’ll start with a small confession, always a good idea if you want to engage the reader, which obviously I do. When my Editor first suggested I write a new historical sheikh quartet, I wasn’t exactly brimming with enthusiasm. My recent novels had been very much grounded in historically authentic settings and concerned with the impact of contemporary historical issues on my characters. My stories were heroine-centric, and my heroes, seemingly of their own accord, have been migrating down the aristocratic hierarchy at such a rate they have barely a teaspoon of blue blood between them. My writing was, within the context of the genre, becoming more gritty, more real.

The defining characteristic of the sheikh trope, on the other hand, is fantasy and exotic world-creation, and it is all about the hero. The thing is though, sheikh stories are very popular – the two Regency Sheik stories I’ve previously written (Innocent in the Sheikh’s Harem and The Governess and the Sheikh) are my best sellers, and as an author who relies on her writing to pay the bills, that’s not something I could afford (quite literally!) to ignore. And then there’s the fact that historical sheikh romances are rarer than hen’s teeth – so really, in the end, it was a no-brainer, and so the quartet Hot Arabian Nights was born.

But experience has taught me that writing to order is doomed to failure, and writing something that you can’t invest your heart and soul in isn’t just tedious, it’s futile. So I had to come a way of embracing and personalising this series. I had to mould the sheikh trope to fit my creative inclinations, and at the same time incorporate those aspects which I’d come to think of as my trademark – the strong women, the historical issues, the dark emotional conflict.

s HaremIt wasn’t easy. For a start, I had to dissociate my historical world with the historical reality, the long-term effects of which were being played out in the newspapers every day. My Regency Arabia was going to have to be free of the controversies of religion, imperialism, and world politics which blighted the region then, and unfortunately continue to do so to this day. Which meant, basically, inventing and creating a completely imaginary Arabia. As a writer who invests a great deal of time and effort in setting her books in the ‘real’ world, and making them as authentic as possible, this was actually a pretty tough gig, but I very quickly realised that it was a decision that allowed my imagination to take full flight, and my enthusiasm to soar.

I discovered that I absolutely loved world-creating. My desert kingdoms are sumptuous, exotic, glamorous, richly-textured and sensual. Writing from my home in Argyll, Scotland where, as anyone following my Twitter feed will know, it rains most days, made the desert landscape even more appealing. As the view from my window assumed one of its many shades of grey, I escaped to the sultry heat of the desert, conjuring up a lush oasis or moving one of my favourite silver-sanded beaches from Scotland to the Arabian coast, where the water is balmy and the sun crystallises the sea-salt on your skin. The desert landscape is a character in its own right in each of the books in this series, and it casts its spell on each of my heroines, a completely and utterly alien world to the one they have left behind which beguiles them as much as the men who rule these desert kingdoms.

the governess and the sheikhHowever, such fairy tale settings need to be counter-balanced by a healthy dose of reality. My desert princes (and one princess) and their heroines had to be confronted with believable and tangible issues. In a sense, the princes were easier to deal with. There are three things that define the essence of a sheikh in romance-land: they are hugely powerful; they have an all-consuming sense of honour; and they are utterly mysterious. Their inner self, the man beneath the abba cloak and keffiyeh headdress is concealed to all but the heroine. I’ve always loved writing dark heroes, but the wielding of power had never attracted me. So how would it be, I thought, if it didn’t appeal to my sheikhs either? As a result, the first two of my Hot Arabian Nightsheroes are very reluctant princes indeed. The third is a victim of his all-powerful position, and in the fourth book I reverse the trope, and my sheikh hero becomes a sheikha heroine.

My other three heroines though, posed me quite a problem. Who were these women, transported to a land where Lady Hester Stanhope was the only real-life historical traveller to visit the region at the time (1815)? Why were they there? Richard Holmes’ brilliant book, The Age of Wonder, inspired the answer to the latter question. Science! A man’s world, an embryonic discipline in the early Nineteenth Century, but one where women could gain a foothold – though very much against the odds. So Julia, the heroine of the first book in the series, The Widow and the Sheikh, is a botanist. Constance, in The Sheikh’s Mail Order Bride is an astronomer. Stephanie, the heroine in the book I’m currently working one, is a veterinarian. And Tahira, my Arabian princess, is a geologist. Women fighting to establish themselves in a male-only domain – exactly my kind of scenario.

Which is all very well, but was it credible to have three English women roaming the Arabian desert on their own? I’ve mentioned Lady Hester Stanhope, who I first encountered researching Innocent in the Sheikh’s Harem. A bit of digging, and I discovered other pioneers: the scandalous Jane Digby, whose fourth husband was a sheikh; Lady Anne Blunt, who came to Arabia in search of bloodstock for her stud farm; the much-travelled diplomat Gertrude Bell; and Isobel Burton, wife of the explorer Richard. Admittedly all were in Arabia later than my heroines, but sometimes you have to take the occasional historical liberty for the sake of a good tale.

Freedom in the form of independence is the goal which links my heroines, and it’s ironic that they have to travel half-way across the world to achieve it. Of course it’s stretching credibility on the one hand, but on the other, as my research proved, there were exceptional 19th century women, unconventional women who did stretch credibility, and I like to think my heroines are capable of similar feats.

But my heroines don’t just, quite literally find themselves in Arabia, they find love too. The desert sings a siren song that allows them to cast off their inhibitions and lose themselves in this sensual world, and in the embrace of the sensual men with irresistible appeal and dark secrets who rule there.

I am thoroughly enjoying writing this series and have picked up some seriously eclectic knowledge along the way, from how to birth a foal suffering from carpal flex (its poor wee hooves bent back) to the location of Perseus in the night sky, and the history of the Royal Horticultural Society. One of my rather bold claims in my promotional material is that I write ‘Regency with a twist.’  I hope I have delivered on this boast, and I hope this glimpse behind the gestation of the series piques your interest enough for you find out for yourself whether I have succeeded.

Hot Arabian Nights

It is the Age of Wonder. Science, in all its disciplines, is blossoming. Four women striving to be recognised in this exclusively male domain, fight to be free of the shackles of convention. But in order to obtain that freedom they have to travel to another, quite alien world. Awaiting them are four unique and fascinating individuals, three Desert Princes and one aristocratic adventurer with two things in common, an all-consuming sense of honour and an irresistible appeal.

The Widow and the Sheikh, Harlequin Historical, April 2016

Rich and successful trader Prince Azhar returns, intending to reject the call to rule his kingdom but finds the situation much more complicated than he imagined it would be. Not least because of beautiful and unconventional widow Julia Trevelyan, a botanist on a sacred quest.

The Sheikh’s Mail Order Bride, Harlequin Historical August 2016

Sheikh Kadar has just inherited his brother’s kingdom and fiancée, when he rescues shipwrecked mail-order bride Constance Montgomery. He offers the keen stargazer sanctuary while they both attempt to reconcile themselves to marriages they don’t want. Could their futures possibly converge in the face of myriad obstacles?

The Harlot and the Sheikh (Current Work In Progress)

Prince Rafiq’s goal of re-establishing his kingdom’s pre-eminence in the world of thoroughbred Arabian bloodstock in order to atone for his terrible crime is threatened by a deadly equine sickness. In desperation he turns to a renowned English horse doctor, whom he did not expect to be an irresistibly attractive woman with a dark secret of her own.

The Archaeologist and the Sheikha

Egyptologist and adventurer Christopher Fordyce has combed Arabia seeking to return an ancient artefact to its true owner. When his travels lead him to the kingdom of Nessarah, he makes his most exciting discovery yet – a jewel of a different kind, his desert princess!




Twitter: @margueritekaye

For a chance to win a signed copy of The Widow and the Sheikh, please leave a comment below – not forgetting your email address!

Posted in Guest Posts | Tagged , , | 21 Comments

Sunday Steals and Deals

So many books and so many deals! Here are some of our favorite bargains to be found right now.

This collection has an impressive lineup of authors: Alexis Hall, Del Dryden, Vanessa North, and more. I love anthology’s inspiration: How does love begin? Plus, all the proceeds from this book go to a wonderful cause. At 3.99, how can you resist?

I do wish romance–and indeed all of fiction–paid more attention to those over 40. Middle age is full of mysteries, love, passion, and pain. Really, it is.

This novel is a lovely, funny, and eminently readable even though its narrator is a–gasp–a married mom of two. I enjoyed it. It’s now just 3.99.

Summer lovin’, had me a blast. Summer lovin’, happened so fast. 

(I confess: I can’t see books about summer loves without seeing Olivia and John singing their differing views of their summer nights.)

This book, however, is nowhere nearly as raunchy as the beloved film. It’s the story of kindergarten teacher and a handsome handyman falling in love on the Outer Banks. It’s a four star read at Amazon. Right now, it’s 2.99.

I am currently reading J.T. Ellison’s No One Knows which is almost impossible to put down. Her earlier books are on sale. This one is the first in her well-received Samantha Owens series. It’s garnered almost five stars on Amazon from 158 readers. Right now, it’s 1.99.

OK, I haven’t read this but it’s just .99 and the description cracks me up.

If there’s one universal truth, it’s this: You’re always wearing your worst underwear when you land in trouble.

Lola’s parents told her that everyone can make a difference. And she believed them. She’s been fighting the good fights since she was eleven years old. But at 23, Lola falls hard for an Australian stockbroker who thinks Doctors Without Borders is a porno and Joni Mitchell sounds like a harp seal being battered to death. She cuts him loose, but over the next fifteen years, through protests, misunderstandings, humiliating predicaments, and a number of poor underwear choices, their lives and paths continue to converge.

Along the way, Lola learns a few important life lessons: Never wear a red lace thong to a strip search. Make sure you take motion sickness pills if you’re going to the Southern Ocean to save the whales. And sometimes, Mr Right can be all wrong, and Mr Wrong just needs time to find the right path.

It’s hard to top Tessa Bailey for foul-mouth super sexy alpha heroes. Protecting What’s His has one of her best: Derek Tyler. He’s a veritable panty-melter. The plot of this book is excellent–funny and filled with just enough genuine menace. I love the relationship between Ginger and her sister as well. It’s currently just .99!

The Raven Prince is my favorite of Ms. Hoyt’s books. So so so sensuous and a hero with heart-melting vulnerability. I love Anna too–she’s brave in a way that makes me want to stand up and cheer. I enjoyed all three books in the Princes series–this is a great place to start if you’ve not yet read it. It’s 3.99.

Caz gave Fallen Lady a B+. She says it’s “a compelling and beautifully written romance in which the heroine is desperate to keep her long-held secrets from the man sent to find them out.  The principals are complex, well-rounded characters with terrific chemistry.” It’s just 3.99.

To Steal a Heart is an action-packed, sexy romantic adventure story set in Napoléonic France which sees an enigmatic, unflappable master spy teamed up with a former aristocrat turned-thief/spy/circus performer!  An unusual pairing perhaps, but the story is compelling, the sexual tension is smokin’ and the hero is to die for. (This opinion comes from Caz.) Right now, the book is just 2.99.

Lynn gave this book a B.  “Cam and Will’s story often made me smile. The Abbott family were a likable bunch, and I think this series will be a lot of fun to follow. If you like your contemporary romance cute and sweet, I suspect you will enjoy this one.” It’s .99 at Amazon.

I didn’t review Her Best Worst Mistake for AAR, but if I had, it would have been a DIK for me. It’s a love story between two people who really shouldn’t work as a couple but, in Ms. Mayberry’s talented hands, they oh so do. It’s 2.99 at Amazon.

For six years Violet Sutcliffe has known that Martin St Clair is the wrong man for her best friend. He’s stuffy, old before his time, conservative. He drives Violet nuts – and the feeling is entirely mutual. Then, out of nowhere, her friend walks out just weeks before her wedding to Martin, flying to Australia on a mission of self-discovery. Back in London, Violet finds herself feeling sorry for suddenly-single Martin. At least, she tells herself it’s pity she feels. Then he comes calling one dark, stormy night and they discover that beneath their mutual dislike there lies a fiery sexual chemistry.

This is a male/male contemporary with a 4.22 average star rating at Goodreads and was nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award for debut author. Right now, it’s just .99 at Amazon.


compiled by Dabney Grinnan

Posted in Dabney AAR, E-books | 2 Comments