Max de Winter: Dreamboat or Douchebag?

movie-Rebecca-rebecca-1940-10778558-500-380When I was preparing to write this column I was of the firm opinion that Maximillian de Winter was a definite douchebag. My vague memories of him, from reading the book years ago, were of a cold man who married a mouse of a girl and then began to coolly neglect her as she was bullied by those around them. In many ways he was to me the epitome of a romance alphahole – proud, rich, and full of himself. It was surprising when I went back to the text to see how differently the heroine saw him. Continue reading

You Want Me to Do What?

Strangers on a TrainHow is going all the way defined between friends? Well, according to Jerry Seinfeld if it is a male/male friendship going all the way is defined as asking a guy to help you move. The biggest favor of all? Jerry: That’s what death is, really: it’s the last big move. The hearse is like the van, the pallbearers are your close friends, the only ones you can ask to help you in a move like this, and the casket is that one perfect box you’ve been looking for your entire life. The only problem is, once you find it, you’re in it. 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

It’s a Lucky Harbor Day: We’ve got Jill Shalvis and a Giveaway!

JillShalvisMany a romance reader knows Lucky Harbor, the fictional town where Jill Shalvis has set (thus far) nine novels. All good things must come to an end, however, and Ms. Shalivs has penned the last three love stories she plans to set there. The first of these, It’s In His Kiss, was released yesterday.

We are happy to have Jill here today. Not only is she answering questions, and sharing an excerpt, she’s giving away a Lucky Harbor novel of your choice to three AAR readers. To be entered in the drawing, just leave a comment below.

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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

Critique Partners, Continents Apart

M and J 1Two of my favorite books I’ve read thus far this year are Untouched by Maisey Yates and Having Her  (here’s my review) by Jackie Ashenden. Though both books are contemporary romances, they have little else in common. Or so I thought.

However, when I was at RT in May, I met Maisey and was startled to find out that, for years, she and Jackie have been critique partners. This is even more startling when you consider that Maisey lives in rural Oregon and Jackie lives in Auckland, New Zealand. Curious how that works, I asked if they would talk with me at RWA in July. The following interview is taken from that conversation and from emails I’ve exchanged with the two. 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.

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A Special Titles Update!

One of the nicest parts of looking up newly nominated titles for a Special Titles Listing is discovering and rediscovering great books. This time around, we were struck by how many of the titles we had to research for the present list were actually perfect summer reading material. We came across exotic settings, sea travel, luxury lifestyles and an over-all fairy tale quality. Here are some of the new titles that we found especially interesting, sorted by the list they are part of. Check out all of the results here.sleeping-beauty_jpg Continue reading