Eagerly Awaited July Books

July looks like it’s going to be a month for historical lovers. Even though all of us here at AAR picked out some favorites across a variety of subgenres, historicals topped the list. Loretta Chase, Kaki Warner, Grace Burrowes and Mary Balogh all have new releases. I like to spend my summers lounging on the deck, daydreaming over a good book. What good books do you want to linger over this summer?

Title and Author Reviewer
Vixen in Velvet by Loretta Chase Vixen in Velvet by Loretta Chase Caz, Lee, Lee, Cindy, Alex, Heather
Where the Horses Run by Kaki Warner Where the Horses Run by Kaki Warner Lynn, Pat, Lee, Mary
The Captive by Grace Burrowes The Captive by Grace Burrowes Jenna, Caz, Mary, Alex
The Escape by Mary Balogh The Escape by Mary Balogh Maggie, Alex, Lee
Hope at Dawn by Stacy Henrie Hope at Dawn by Stacie Henrie Caroline, Lynn
The Dead Will Tell by Linda CAstillo The Dead Will Tell by Linda Castillo Shannon, Maggie
The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness Alex, Heather
A Grave Matter by Anna Lee Huber A Grave Matter by Anna Lee Huber LinnieGayl, Caz
Landline by Rainbow Rowell Landline by Rainbow Rowell Caroline, Jenna
Straddling the Line by Jaci Burton Straddling the Line by Jaci Burton Haley
Awakened by Virna DePaul Awakened by Virna DePaul Shannon
On Sunset Beach by Mariah Stewart On Sunset Beach by Mariah Stewart LinnieGayl
Four Stories by Veronica Roth Four Divergent Stories by Veronica Roth Jenna
Second Chance Cinderella by Carla Capshaw Second Chance Cinderella by Carla Capshaw Lynn
The Beekeeper's Ball by Susan Wiggs The Beekeeper’s Ball by Susan Wiggs Maggie
Unwept by Hickmans Unwept by Tracy Hickman and Laura Hickman Melanie
Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan Haley
Midnight Secretary, Vol. 6 Midnight Secretary, Vol. 6 by Tomu Ohmi Caroline
Noble Metals by L.A. Witt Noble Metals by L.A. Witt Pat
Born of Fury by Sherrilyn Kenyon Born of Fury by Sherrilyn Kenyon Melanie
The Manhattan Encounter by Addison Fox The Manhattan Encounter by Addison Fox Lynn
The Boleyn REckoning by Laura Andersen The Boleyn Reckoning by Laura Andersen Caz
Rusty Nailed by Alice Clayton Rusty Nailed by Alice Clayton Heather
Then Came You by Jill Shalvis Then Came You by Jill Shalvis Haley
Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok Maggie
One Plus One by Jojo Moyes One Plus One by Jojo Moyes Lee
No River Too Wide by Emilie Richards No River Too Wide by Emilie Richards Heather

Defending the Faith

Joan_of_Arc_(133751960) Every year in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day and on the holiday itself, the radio station I listen to every morning engages in a tradition that always gets under my skin. They call it “Romantic Ramblings,” and it involves sending one of the on-air DJs from the morning drive team over to nearest Walgreens, where he (always a he) selects a romance novel off the shelf, opens to a random page, and begins reading the “smut” he finds inside.

The DJ is instructed to select the book with the most extreme cover, and given that he always – always – manages to select a page that contains some kind of physical interaction between the hero and heroine, you have to wonder how random his selection process truly is. No romance, not even the bodice rippers of old, contains sex on every single page but he manages to hit pay dirt 100% of the time. The folks back in the studio giggle and joke while bow-chicka-wow-wow music plays in the background. Despite the bit’s title – “Romantic Ramblings” – there’s nothing romantic about it. It’s more titillating in that thirteen-year-old boys ogling contraband copies of Playboy sort of way. Continue reading

The Book Hangover

It is two o’clock in the morning. You have work the next morning, and maybe kids that will be up in a few hours and need to get dressed and fed and sent off to school. You should have been asleep hours ago, but the “one more chapter” bug has hit and you have a book you can’t put down. Finally, around 4 am, the book is finished, you have a wad of used Kleenex on the nightstand, your eyes feel like sandpaper, but you have a sense of euphoria at the wonderful book that you have just read. Sounds great right? Yeah – all except for the hangover that you are sure to get the next morning.

The Book Hangover. Have you ever had it? What is it? It is more than just the exhaustion that you have the next day when you stayed up too late reading a good book. That is a part of it. But just like a regular hangover, the headache isn’t the whole package. There is more to the situation. Even two days later, when you are all caught up with sleep, you just can’t wind down and read another book. That is the kicker. Continue reading

Appreciating Authors

bouquet You probably have already heard about the Wall Street Journal breaking the story of the Department of Justice plans to sue Apple and Simon & Schuster Inc., Hachette Book Group; Penguin Group (USA); Macmillan and HarperCollins Publishers Inc for price fixing related to e-books. And you might have read their response that they only did it to keep the market competitive. And you might be rolling your eyes thinking “not another blog about e-book pricing”. And I agree with you. I am talked out on the subject. There is only so many way you can say that agency pricing is wrong. So for something new, I thought I would write an article with a positive slant. To be honest, I had planned on writing about all the things that publishers do right. But it was a very short list. Maybe it’s because when I look at things, it seems as if the publishers focus more on profits. We have seen that over and over again with gluts of similar types of books. And authors have relayed that they want to write something different but are told that doesn’t sell. However, I easily feel the love for authors. For over a year now, I wanted to have an author appreciation day on the blog.
Continue reading

The Appeal of the Mundane

that-old-black-magic I’m an enthusiastic lover of romance. I love the action and adventure, the sweeping sagas, the old school and new alike. But lately I’ve come to appreciate yet another facet of my favorite novels, the scenes of quiet domesticity. Sure, these aren’t the ones that typically grab your attention and make your heart pound. They usually aren’t even the ones you will remember after you close the book. But I believe they plan an important role in the development of the romance and give the reader a deeper understanding of the book’s characters.

A few weeks ago I was reading Alpha Instinct, a werewolf book by Katie Reus, for review. The few scenes I enjoyed in this book were the ones in which the main characters interacted with their families in a domestic setting. In one memorable scene, the heroine Ana is in the kitchen making polvorones, Mexican shortbread cookies (think Pecan Sandies with a licorice kick), with Vivian, the young jaguar-shifter for whom she has been caring. I found a couple of things appealing about the scene. For one, it highlighted Ana’s heritage, granting a little more depth to her character. It was also a nice break from the action and when Ana’s mate Connor entered the scene, it allowed the reader a glimpse into the main characters’ everyday lives. The scene could have been cut from the book entirely without affecting the story, but its inclusion gave the reader a sort of reference point for what married life would be like for them.
Continue reading

Keeping It Real

becauseI hadn’t realized until this week what a liar I was about romance books.  If anyone asked what kind of romances I like best, I would have said those that transport me away to somewhere I haven’t been in either time or place.

Then I read three books in a row that convinced me I was lying to myself.

  • Because of You by Jessica Scott looks at love in the setting of today’s military between a wounded sergeant and a nurse. In many ways it reminds me of Cheryl Reavis’ The Older Woman, another in my personal AAR Top 100 list, except with buddies for the nurse and soldier instead of a grandmotherly landlady as charming peripheral characters.  Like The Older Woman, Because of You explores war wounds and breast cancer, two of today’s hot spots, and like the other book isn’t an easy read. It reminded me all too vividly of visits I made to my cousin Jerry in a VA hospital after he returned from the Vietnam War as a paraplegic. Instead of taking me away from reality, it brought all the memories and feelings back to me.
  • Continue reading

The Quest for the Perfect Book

holygrail As many of you know, I compose a list of all the books that I am looking forward to reading. It is like a security blanket or comfort item knowing that there are some books out there that I want to read. For the next three months I only have six books on my list, which is not good. There is not much security in that unless I plan on doing a lot of re-reads.

Years ago, I read The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold and loved it. That book is definitely an A book for me. After reading it I couldn’t stop talking about it, and recommended it to just about everyone I knew. But I lost the book, and forgot about the story, until someone on Speaking of Audiobooks posted that the audio book was on sale. Off I went and rediscovered the love. After I finished, I wondered why can’t I find books like this anymore: books not so much with tortured heroes or heroines, but imperfect human being facing tasks that require heroic efforts with an underlying theme of good against evil, with an underscoring premise that human lives have purpose. Then I thought of my upcoming list, Blythe’s blog and then Maggie’s blog.
Continue reading

One Recipe, Two Very Different Dishes

acrossuniverse Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t read the Lord of the Rings books or seen the movies, this post contains spoilers regarding the ending.

We’ve been having quite the lively discussion on the Romance Potpourri Board about just how much the HEA constrains the writing of a novel, whether books are written to a recipe or formula, and what reasonable amount of reality and originality can be expected from genre fiction (romance in particular) given said restraints. The whole formula issue is an old one here at AAR, with some of us looking for the works that push that barrier, and others pointing out thatours are not the only novels written to a pattern.
Continue reading

Bed, Chair, Sofa, or Floor?

victorian-woman-reading-magnet-c11748947And no, I’m not talking about certain recreational activities.  I’m just wondering where you guys like to read.

See, I used to have this image of a “proper” reader: Someone who sits straight-backed in a chair, or lounges with dignity in an armchair, legs crossed, holding a book in two hands, serenely flipping the pages.

But I discovered early on that I’m not like that.  Me, I sprawl.  I fidget.  I cross my legs in a chair, then turn ninety degrees and hang my legs over the arms, then flop onto the floor and lean against my desk.  I do all sorts of random stuff.  And that’s only at my desk.  So I need space to move.

By and large, there are four reading options for me:


If I’m reading in bed, it’s at night.  And if it’s at night, that means a limited period of time.  Which kinda sucks if I’m in the middle of a really gripping passage, but hey – self control, right?  I also sometimes do work in bed, because I like having the space to spread out.  But when it comes to leisure reading, I find that no matter how I start off (leaning back, cross-legged, etc.), I always end up on my stomach with a pillow under my chin.

Continue reading

Deadeye Dick’s Last Shot, or All for the Love of Bessie Burton

virginian If you are not a fan of the 1960’s western television show, The Virginian , then this title means nothing to you. As a caregiver for an aging relative, I can almost repeat all the dialogue. One episode opens as a young woman and her mother are traveling out west to visit relatives. On the train, the young woman is reading a dime novel featuring the western hero, Deadeye Dick. When an older man saves her from falling off her horse after tumbleweeds spook him, just like Deadeye Dick saved Bessie Burton, she has her hero. Throughout the episode the mother understands that her daughter’s impressionable age is to blame rather than the dime novels and never forbids her the joy of reading them. While watching the show, I wondered how today’s mothers guide their daughters’ reading choices through the immense choices available.

During an internet search, I saw that Wikipedia touts Samuel Richardson’s popular 1740 novel Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded as one of the first romance novels. From Jane Austen to serial romances in women’s magazines, from Georgette Heyer to Mills and Boon and finally the explosion of the genre with Kathleen Woodiwiss’s The Flame and The Flower, young girls today have a myriad of choices available to them. And even if your daughter or niece is not interested in romance now, the chance of her wanting to read one in her adolescence is very high, especially with books like Twilight being made into movies. I eased into reading romance books while in my early teens. Like many readers here, my introduction to this genre started with Harlequin romance and Georgette Heyer. While I had an aunt who disapproved, my mother never censored my reading, and we had a long history of loving the same types of books.
Continue reading