Author Testimonials for AAR's Tenth Anniversary

January 1, 2008

In preparation for our tenth anniversary, we asked a number of well-known authors for their comments on AAR. Many have "worked" with us before - via interviews, contests, AAR Aid, etc. - or participate in our forums or are Facebook or MySpace "friends". Their comments are presented first in DIK order, and then alphabetically.

Additional testimonials online 1/8

Nora Roberts
Mary Jo Putney
Connie Brockway
Jennifer Crusie
Linda Howard
Lisa Kleypas
Anne Stuart
Loretta Chase
Karen Ranney
Meg Cabot
Rachel Gibson
Anne Gracie
Jo Beverley
Elizabeth Hoyt
Deborah Simmons
Diane Farr
Stef Ann Holm
Donna Simpson
Nalini Singh
Sherri Erwin
MaryJanice Davidson
Anna Campbell
Kristina Cook
Sylvia Day
Susan Grant
Jo Leigh
Lisa Marie Rice
Sandra Schwab
Keri Arthur
Jaid Black
Anna Campbell
Lori Devoti
Amanda Grange
Lucy Monroe
Elizabeth Rolls
E.C. Sheedy
Karen Templeton
Christine Wells
Karyn Witmer/Elizabeth Grayson

 

Nora Roberts

AAR serves as a wonderful resource for readers. It's a place readers, especially those with an affection for the Romance genre, can discuss books, delve into what they like, don't like--and why. Over and above the reviews of hundreds of Romances every year, the polls, the industry news, it's the opportunity to express opinions, hear others, talk, argue, debate and simply enjoy the virtual companionship of those who share the same interests that stand as AAR's greatest service. Followed, I think, by the often fascinating and diverse columns At The Back Fence.

Congratulations to Laurie--and thanks for ten years of work and dedication. Further thanks to the staff of AAR, and to all the readers who've taken the time to comment over the last decade.

 

Mary Jo Putney

Happy anniversary, AAR!

Ten years ago, the World Wide Web was unknown to most of us, URLs on the bottoms of print ads were an oddity—and All About Romance was founded by Laurie Gold as an online romance community.

Over the years, the site has grown until it’s one of the richest sources for romance information on the internet. There are tons of reviews, interviews, opinion pieces, surveys, and polls. Not to mention a Castle of the Week. At the Back Fence is great at raising questions and stimulating discussion about the genre, the stories, the heroes and the heroines.

Is AAR sometimes controversial? Of course! It’s a place to talk and share opinions, and we all have plenty of those. There’s controversy because we care.

As AAR enters its second decade, it’s still a technological leader, with forums, blogs, and a presence at networking sites like My Space and Facebook. And it’s still one of the best and largest romance communities on the internet. It’s a place to hang out with fellow romance readers.

Live long and prosper, AAR!

 

Connie Brockway

I remember the excitement I felt upon reading my first book’s review on All About Romance, ten years ago. It was A Dangerous Man was the third book I’d written. In those days, insightful, serious reviews of romance novels were as hard to come by. The “legit” press didn’t give us much space and this in spite of the fact that romance novels accounted for over half of all books sold in any given year. There were (still are) a few magazines devoted to the genre, but unless you had a subscription, finding them was difficult. Then All About Romance came along, riding in on the first wave of internet web sites and announcing that it was devoting itself to a unique idea: that all romance novels are not interchangeable and therefore deserving of earnest, comprehensive reviews. Oh yeah, and for free.

From there, it was a small step to organizing readers’ groups, setting up bulletin boards, doing polls and interviews. It’s small wonder that so many, many readers have embraced this website so wholeheartedly and as in any place where you have as huge and diverse a group as romance readers are, there are bound to be disagreement, celebration, interesting discussions and ultimately growth.

All About Romance has certainly grown since I bookmarked its page ten years ago. Without a doubt it will continue to grow, too, because from its inception AAR has been a place for readers to talk about the things they love best---romance novels. Happy Birthday, AAR!

 

Jennifer Crusie

 

AAR is a wonderful community where readers can get the real skinny on books, authors, and what's happening in the world of romance fiction.  This site's huge growth is a testament to how much readers love it.  

Happy Anniversary, AAR!

 

 

 

Linda Howard

What does AAR mean to me? First and foremost, entertainment. It was Lori Foster who first directed me to AAR, but don't ask me when. It was in this century, though <G>. The first time I went to the AAR site, I spent hours reading every post (it took hours because I was on dial-up, but that tells you how enthralled I was). About half of the discussions were about books I hadn't yet read, so I made a list of the titles that sounded interesting, for ordering later. I laughed at some of the pithy comments. I followed the arguments, snorting at some, agreeing with others. In short, I'm just like every other person who visits the site.

As I read the reviews and the discussions, I began to formulate the outlook that has made life much easier for me, namely that it's okay if people don't like a particular book -- even if that book is mine. I read rave reviews of books I personally didn't care for, but the reviews were well-thought-out, intelligent, and a lot of people agreed with them. It wasn't a big leap to reach the conclusion that sometimes a particular writer, or a particular book, isn't my cup of tea. That doesn't mean the writer is a bad writer or that the book was bad, just -- not my cup of tea. When I turn that around, then obviously as a writer I won't, can't, appeal to everyone. No big deal. I'm not her cup of tea. That isn't to say there aren't valid criticisms, just as there are truly bad books, but for the most part reading likes and dislikes are a matter of personal taste. Cool.

AAR has led me to explore writers I wouldn't otherwise have noticed, enjoy books I wouldn't otherwise have found. It has also been beneficial to my mental health. No joke. Stretches of time go by in which I don't get to visit the site, but in times of stress I go there and distract myself by reading threads I normally wouldn't click. We lost one of our beloved Golden Retrievers, Honey, to a very fast cancer a year ago, and the grief was almost beyond bearing. I spent a lot of hours at AAR then; I couldn't focus on a book, but I could concentrate on discussions and reviews, and forget for a little while. On the other hand, our younger Golden had hip replacement surgery in August -- and then shattered her femur just below the replaced joint -- and has required a lot of care and rehab, so for a lot of these past four months I haven't been able to spend a lot of time on the internet, but when I could I'd steal a few minutes to catch up on the new reviews, and order a few books.

My life is often madness, because my husband and I both have large extended families, all of them are nearby, and none of them are normal. I'm not kidding. I don't know what I'd do without books, without the sense of community I get from reading the book discussions on AAR and knowing that books are as important to many others as they are to me. Even when "book people" disagree on a book, they're connected by their love of the written word. They speak the same language. I feel a sense of ease when I visit AAR, because y'all speak my language. <g> AAR is like a pair of bedroom slippers to my mind.

I have to go now, because the llamas are being delivered. No, I'm not joking. Refer to the previous paragraph, and the phrase "none of them are normal" -- and believe it.

 

Lisa Kleypas

To me, the remarkable success of AAR is a demonstration of the fact that every romance reader knows: there is only one thing better than discovering a great romance novel. And that is sharing it.

The fence posts of AAR have become deeply anchored in the romance genre not because this is always the safest place to be—in the excitement of passionate debate, words can sometimes fly fast and furious. But really, is a tepid discussion ever as fun, or worthwhile, as an enthusiastic one? AAR is a place for passionate readers who feel free to air their opinions, to share their likes and dislikes, and best of all to help others discover a treasure that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. The fact that this is so often done with wit, style, humor and emotion, is evidence of the quality of this website and all who contribute to it.

Happy anniversary, AAR, and to you, Laurie! Congratulations on the success of your grand adventure, and thanks for letting us all have a place at the fence.

 

Anne Stuart

So I’ve had kind of a love/hate relationship with AAR. On the one hand, Laurie Gold is a smart, savvy woman with excellent instincts and usually the very good taste to like my books. The Desert Isle Keeper topic is a joy for all book lovers, and the reviews are honest and unflinching. Therein has been the problem over the years. Honesty is lovely, except when someone thinks my work is crap. At one point I was so disheartened I deleted AAR from my Bookmark page, rather than face someone’s unvarnished and, of course, totally mistaken review.

I relented, because I value even divergent opinions. That’s what AAR is about. Honest opinions despite weak-kneed authors (speaking only for myself), honest interviews that can get you into a hell of a lot of trouble (again, speaking only for myself). Over the years, when the romance field has been filled with tactful puff, it’s bracing to hear what someone really thinks.

And for that I salute AAR, no matter how painful it can sometimes be. It was the first source for real opinions in a genre that needs to examine itself, every now and then, just to keep things real.

 

Loretta Chase

Happy Tenth Anniversary to Laurie Gold and All About Romance!

Your decade represents quite an accomplishment. It's not easy to keep anything going for ten years: a career, a business, a marriage, a love affair...

AAR earned my respect early on--and that's not just because of all the nice things you've said about my books. What impressed me from the beginning was that AAR took romance seriously. It wasn't about the hype. It was about the stories and the writing. I was surprised at the care that went into the reviews, interviews, and columns. I was amazed at the depth of analysis. I was happily astonished to learn that someone was giving romance the attention more usually reserved for Great Literature.

That seriousness of purpose hasn't changed. Whether I agree or disagree with reviews or articles, I respect the intelligence, clarity, and thoroughness with which they're written. It is no small achievement to continue, week in and week out, to offer the romance-reading community articulate and in-depth reviews, interviews, blogs, and discussion forums.

And yes, there are arguments, but hardly any homicides, right? And isn't it great that people get so excited about books? Plus there are all the Favorites Polls--and the cool charts!

Ten years, and never a dull moment. Ten years, while other sites have come and gone. You were a pioneer when you began and you're still offering fresh ideas. You keep us reading and thinking about what we're reading.

Congratulations, AAR, and thank you for all the good work you've done. I'll look forward to wishing you a happy 20th!

 

Karen Ranney

I think I must provide my editor with a great deal of amusement. I have no difficulty producing a 100,000 word manuscript, but 500 words - a few paragraphs – is a daunting obstacle. You see, I want to ease into the story, plant my clues, begin to reveal the characters. In an article, I’m on my own. It’s me, and as I’ve often declared, the author is never as important as the book.

Ah, books. What wonders they are. I love books. I love the heft of them, the smell of them, the excitement that comes from opening a cover and reading the first words. Books have transported me, sometimes brought me to tears, and occasionally made me angry. (In one rather horrible example of rage, I actually took out a pair of scissors and cut the pages in half to prevent someone from ever reading that trash again.)

My opinion, you see. Opinions are like – well, you know how the adage goes, don’t you? Reviews are opinions, too, and AAR is filled with reviews and opinions.

AAR has never swayed from its original purpose, even though features have been added and dropped over the years. My idea of the purpose of AAR? To be a place on the Internet where candid discussion is encouraged, where there can be honest disagreement, but also respect.

Romance is a genre of emotion. Isn’t it natural to expect that both readers and writers will feel deeply about certain issues? For ten years, AAR has provided a forum for discussion, one that I find is remarkably even-handed.

Do I always agree with everything that’s posted there? Of course not. Am I supposed to? Of course not, and that’s said from the viewpoint of both a reader and a writer.

For example, I often don’t “get” what other people find enjoyable. Where I once worked they had an annual Sock Day. Everyone wore goofy socks that day, and then paraded around the office to show them off. Prizes were awarded for the best socks. I hated Sock Day. Loathed it. Finally, one year I persuaded the committee to do away with Sock Day. I have never heard so many employee complaints in my life. It turned out that I was in the minority. Most of the employees loved Sock Day. The lesson remains with me now: while some people like vanilla, others like chocolate.

Hats off to AAR for offering both, for keeping debate alive, for occasionally being a lodestone as well as a tinderbox, for having the courage to stand up and say what they believe in and offering a forum to those who would either agree or disagree along with them.

Here’s to ten years and ten years more!

 

Meg Cabot

Ten years ago, my very first book, a historical romance I’d sold under the pen name Patricia Cabot, was just being published. I knew nothing about publishing, or, to be honest, romance, except that I’d read a lot of it, or what I thought was a lot of it.

I was so new to the romance industry and to publishing that when my editor called to say my first romance novel had received a review with two stars from a magazine called Romantic Times, I said, “Yay! That’s great!” And when she later called to say the same book had received a one-star review from a magazine called Publishers Weekly, I said, “Oh, that’s too bad.”

That’s when my agent gently suggested I might want to educate myself about publishing and the romance world in general. Not knowing what else to do, I turned on my computer at work and entered the words “romance novels” into a search engine (remember AltaVista?). All About Romance was the first thing that popped up.

I was instantly hooked. Back in my own hometown—a college town—I hadn’t dared speak of my love for romance novels, lest I be looked down upon by literary snobs. And in New York City, many bookstores didn’t even have romance novel sections at all, and those that did relegated them to the back shelves, and people looked at you funny as you made your way back there.

But at AAR, it really was unabashedly, unashamedly all about romance…and every kind of romance you could imagine or want. In my naiveté, I’d had no idea there were so many different kinds of romance novels, let alone so many different kinds—and such enthusiastic!—readers. Because AAR wasn’t just a passive review site, but a site that encouraged—even demanded—that readers talk back, and was one of the first sites to offer message boards for them to just that.

It was amazing. At AAR, you could be free to be yourself, and embrace your love for whichever books and authors you adored, from Anderson to Woodiwiss. It was amazing, and something I’d never experienced before.

It only took me about a minute to find out two stars on an RT wasn’t a good thing. But one star on a PW review was a great thing. And the whole time, I kept wondering…who was this Laurie person, the one who’d started it all? I wondered what Laurie looked like. I pictured her looking like Xena, Warrior Princess (a not an unrealistic portrait, I felt, considering all the flame wars I saw her put out).

Eventually, Laurie herself actually contacted me for an interview about my second book. It was a little like being contacted by Gandhi. I acted cool about it, but the truth was, I felt far from it—this was Laurie! How did she do it? (I still don’t know, but I imagine her incredible and indefatigable team had a bit to do with it. I pictured each of her reviewers as looking like people from TV, too, especially Blythe whom I later met in real life, and was so shocked when I realized she didn’t look exactly like Xena’s sidekick Gabrielle that I was actually speechless. Later, when Laurie actually came to one of my book signings during my first national book tour, I was stunned to see that she didn’t actually go around wearing armor, either. The AAR staffers are REAL PEOPLE. It’s amazing, but true.

Ten years later, I’ve transformed from a historical romance writer into a chick-lit and YA writer, while AAR is still the leading source on the web for all things romance novel-related. It’s still where I head for my romance-novel news, and where I’d tell any fledgling romance reader—or novelist—to go if she had questions about the genre or industry…or if she just wanted a place to feel welcome….

…or to find something really great to read.

 

Rachel Gibson

 

I've always enjoyed reading the At The Back Fence articles and the author interviews at AAR. It's always interesting to read the views of people both in and outside the publishing industry. I think the most important function of AAR is that it provides a place for readers to chat about the books they love.

Here's to you AAR and another ten years. Cheers and raising a champagne flute in your honor.

 

Anne Gracie

Congratulations, AAR, on your tenth anniversary. It's an amazing achievement in this come-and-go cyber world.

Coincidentally, I'm also celebrating a 10th anniversary — ten years ago (December 1997) my high-tech friends around the corner were woken up in the middle of Friday night? Saturday morning by a fax addressed to me. They weren't too pleased. A very grumpy Doug rang me and said, "Anne, there's a fax for you. It woke us up."

"OMG," sez me. "Who is it from?"

"Some publisher, I don't know — It Woke Us Up! Come and get it in the morning — late!" And he hung up.

Needless to say I was camping on their doorstep next morning with hot fresh croissants and chocolate. LOL.

The fax was to say my first book, Gallant Waif had sold. I had to wait two years for it to come out in the UK and it was another year before I saw it on a shelf in Australia, where I live, so over the next few years I pretty much got used to writing books and sending them off into what seemed like a black hole, never to hear of them again.

In the meantime, I joined the world of email, Gallant Waif finalled for a RITA and I went to RWA, where I was nicely anonymous; nobody had read it because it hadn't come out in the US.

And then in 2001 my first two books came out in the US, and wow! AAR burst into my life like a bombshell.

Suddenly my books were not just out of the black hole — they were being examined under a microscope and discussed in detail. And people were writing to me to tell me what they thought — and to give me advice. Eek! Was I ready for this?

Not really. Not at all, in fact.

I don't think anything can prepare new writers for the experience of being discussed and reviewed. Whether the reviews are good, bad or indifferent, it's tough—trust me— because those stories come from such a private dream-space in your head.

But it's a fact of life, and the cyber world brings it to you, right to the very place you write your stories.

But once you get past the scary stuff it's just amazing — and very humbling — to discover that there are people out there who have read your books and want to talk about them—and they're not even related to me. <G>

Even more, for me as a reader, I've discovered so many wonderful writers that I'd never have found if it wasn't for AAR, Australia being a romance desert in those days. It started when people compared my writing to authors I'd never heard of. Carla who? So I ordered my first Carla Kelly and wow! Then I started to trawl the reviews and order more books. I read Mary Balogh, Elizabeth Lowell's medieval series, Susan Elizabeth Peters, Loretta Chase, Laura Kinsale and so many more.

It was so exciting for me to discover this whole new world of fabulous romance writers. AAR played a huge role in that process and in the same way, AAR introduced me to so many readers.

So thank you AAR, as a reader, a writer and member of the romance community. You changed my life. I hope we're both around when the next ten years rolls around.

Happy anniversary.

 

Jo Beverley

 

I like AAR...that's about it, but of course I can't stop there.<g>

I've been reading here almost from day one. I don't read every day, but I probably at least skim things every week, which is not true of any other romance fiction site or blog. I leap with relish into some discussions because I don't post a lot, mainly because it takes time I don't have, but I can't resist meaty discussions about the romance genre. I don't at all mind differing opinions, because it's rubbing against grit that makes ideas sharp.

All About Romance was the first website devoted to romance fiction, and it's still the best, especially as it has no particular ax to grind. It's not owned by a publisher, a writing organization, a publication, or one or more writers. It's shaped by the participating readers who express their opinions, debate hot issues, and share the joy. In that way, it contributes to the robust development of the genre. Thanks, Laurie.

 

Elizabeth Hoyt

I found All About Romance several years ago, before I was published, and was impressed by the sincerity of the book reviews. I don’t always agree with the reviews—in fact I often don’t!—but that makes them all the more fun to read. I’m not interested in a “review” that simply says how wonderful the book is. I want to know what the reviewer truly thinks because that creates dialogue.

Which brings me to the second wonderful thing about AAR—the boards. Oh, how I wish there had been something like the AAR boards around twelve years ago when I was reading romance all by myself! I didn’t have friends or family who also read romance. I would’ve loved to have a board to discuss discovering new-to-me author, Amanda Quick. Maybe then it wouldn’t have taken me years to figure out she also wrote as Jayne Anne Krentz. ;-)

Happy tenth anniversary, All About Romance—may there be many more!

 

Deborah Simmons

It's been more than 10 years since Laurie Gold first e-mailed me about my books. From the time of that first contact, I've seen her go from doing interviews and reviews for various outlets to establishing and managing the biggest and best romance site on the internet.

All About Romance isn't just a review site; there are plenty of those. It has grown to include contests, discussion lists, boards, blogs, author lists, book lists, fan favorites of every possible description, charitable aid projects, and unprecedented reader participation. And what started out as Laurie's musings on the written word has turned into a column that has its finger on the pulse of the industry, with 'news and views' from authors, reviewers, readers, and outside experts on all sorts of topics.

As AAR's profile has risen, it has been featured in such mainstream media as Entertainment Weekly, and Laurie has become a spokesperson for romance. Not only is she a tireless promoter of the genre, she also gives readers a heads up on Buried Treasures - authors who don't get a lot of promotion. I know because I have benefited from her generosity.

But, first and foremost, All About Romance is all about readers. It's a gathering place, a welcoming 'back fence' free of the snobbery that we sometimes encounter elsewhere. Thank you, Laurie, for your support over the course of my career, and thank you for giving us a site where we can share what we all love: reading romance.

 

Diane Farr

I’ll never forget the day an editor looked twice at a proposal of mine … because my latest book had been named a DIK by “the cranky ladies” at AAR.

In a world where romance reviews were universally gushy and glowing, regardless of the book’s quality, AAR’s appearance on the scene was – to put it mildly – a breath of fresh air. Finally, there was a place where readers could get REAL reviews of romance novels: Honest, well-written, intelligent reviews that involved actual critical thinking. The reviews at AAR are so well-done, in fact, that you can often tell from the content of the review that you would disagree with the reviewer! I have read “bad” reviews at AAR that were so clearly-written, with the reviewer’s dislike so perfectly expressed, that I could tell that the very things she hated about the book, I would love. Conversely, I have read “good” reviews that tipped me off to an element in the book that would ruin the reading experience for me. In other words, there are excellent reasons why AAR is the most trusted romance review site on Planet Earth. Trusted even by editors who wish you would write those glowing, gushy – and essentially meaningless – reviews for all their authors!

Congratulations, “cranky ladies,” and keep up the good work. We are ALL counting on you!

 

Stef Ann Holm

Recently, I had to go through some material for a new website design and my designer wanted past book quotes from me. I got out old reviews and made copies for him. Aside from one print magazine and AAR, most of the forums that reviewed my work in the past have gone by the wayside. Review magazines and sites come and go overnight, and it takes a loyal audience and dedicated editor to keep things going. AAR has these qualities.

I remember when the Internet became the "fad" to get on and connecting in three minutes on a dial-up was awesome. I don't recall how I stumbled onto the AAR site, but I really enjoyed the honest reviews and the different message boards. The site quickly became a book-marked page that I checked on daily. I still do. I count on their reviews to be bring my attention to books I may have looked over. I have disagreed with some reviews, but I have agreed with many. More so than not.

The various message boards have been an outlet for me to post questions, promote upcoming books, and visit with fellow romance lovers. I'm amazed by the way the site runs so smoothly and is updated regularly. It seems a daunting task to me, and I appreciate the hard work Laurie has put into the site. It's definitely going to be around for another ten years. Thanks, Laurie! Nicely done!!!!

 

Donna Simpson

In 1999 Zebra published my traditional Regency, Lord St. Claire’s Angel. I was a little crushed that my book received only two stars from Romantic Times – how harsh was that… two stars from RT?? – but then on the internet I stumbled across a review of my book that began… “I almost didn't buy this book because RT gave it only two stars. I'm glad I decided to listen to word of mouth instead and buy this book. Psst, Laurie, is it too late to change my vote for best Regency of 1999?” That was the opening of Anne Marble’s review of Lord St. Claire’s Angel, a DIK review. I was in heaven; they liked me, they really liked me!

Even though I was extremely happy about it, I had no clue what a coveted honor a DIK designation was! But I do now, and treasure the ones I’ve received from All About Romance, mingled as they are with not-so-stellar reviews.

Congratulations to Laurie and her band of dedicated, intelligent and insightful editors, writers and reviewers on reaching the ten year mark in the fickle, fast-paced online world. Though some writers are only looking for a pat on the back when reading reviews, many of us appreciate intelligent criticism that takes the genre seriously – though never the people involved, luckily.

For those of us who feel that way, All About Romance is our online home. Home, after all, is where people love you, faults and all. Home is where you can trust that even when the folks there are critical, they still love and welcome you with open arms. Home is where you can have a spat, then kiss and make up, and trust that all will be forgiven.

Home, for me, online, is All About Romance.

 

Nalini Singh

The thing that first drew me to AAR was the reviews section. The site's rich archive means it's an excellent bet in terms of finding reviews for both new and older titles. While I don't always agree with those reviews, what I appreciate is that the reviewers are all people who are passionate about reading – and it's always interesting to read another passionate reader's take on a book. My favorite reviews are the ones where the reviewer's response to the story, whether good or bad, just shines through.

For the past few years, I've also been avidly following the annual reader poll and periodic Top 100 Romances poll (and I'm not just saying that because Slave to Sensation was voted into the [Top 100] list this year, though that did put a great big smile on my face <g> ). What I like about the polls is the way they get everyone involved, whether they want to vote or not. Both during and after the Top 100 polling this year, every third blogger I went to seemed to be discussing the poll and/or their lists.

I think that's the real gift of the polls – they get people talking about their favorite books, and the results sure inspire passionate debate afterward. For that alone, I think the polls are brilliant events. My thanks to the team at AAR for all their work in what has to be a monumental task.

In the end, it's simple: Disagreements, arguments and even the odd explosion aside, AAR folk have one thing in common—they care about books, romance books in particular. And that's what keeps me coming back.

 

Sherri Erwin

Most romance writers start out as romance readers, and I am no exception. At the tender age of twelve, I started sneaking my mother’s historical romances off her bedroom bookshelf. Johanna Lindsey, Rosemary Rogers, and Sergeanne Golon were names that meant every bit as much to me as Charlotte Bronte, Louisa May Alcott, and Jane Austen. Okay, not quite as hallowed as Austen, but legends nonetheless.

When I began writing romance just over ten years ago, I found information, encouragement, and support in the numerous romance groups and review sites just beginning to spring up all over the internet. All About Romance became a favorite to love and hate. I loved them when they shared my opinion on books and hated them when they didn’t. More importantly, I began to learn what worked for other readers and what didn’t, a lesson that apparently failed to sink in right away.

After I published my first historical romance, The Scoundrel’s Vow (Dell, August 1999 - as Sherri Browning), Laurie Gold reviewed it as a C- read (ouch, but it could have been worse) and went on to name heroine Calandra Locke “Most Annoying Hero or Heroine” in her year-end News and Views of 1999. I could have been devastated, but I took a certain amount of pride in creating a character that notably annoying. It was a strong reaction, after all, when so many romances didn’t rate an extra mention. I love evoking strong reactions. In ten years, that much hasn’t changed. The unconventional ending of my paranormal debut, To Hell with Love (Zebra, September 2007 - as Sherri Erwin), has stirred up debates across the internet and beyond.

The good news? My love-hate relationship with AAR has turned to one of pure love, thanks to reviewer Heather Brooks bestowing Desert Isle Keeper Status on To Hell with Love. To elicit high praise from someone who isn’t a blood relation, best friend, agent, or editor is an amazing feeling indeed. The reviewers of AAR probably know that my love is fickle, lasting only until the next not-so-glowing review. But love or hate, I’m still reading, checking in to AAR every morning before I start to write to see what they’ve said about my favorite new romance releases. Congratulations, AAR, on ten years, and best wishes for many more.

 

MaryJanice Davidson

Ah, AAR…my guilty pleasure. I became aware of AAR when I was a reader. Once I became a published writer, AAR went from a curiosity I checked every week or so to a monster with a choke-hold over me.

Had they reviewed my book?

Had they given it an (ulp) F?

Ha ha! They gave that book an F! (Hey, wait. I kinda liked that book. None of us are safe!)

AAR has been bookmarked on my computer for years because I just cannot stay away, whether it’s reviews, the Worst Cover Contest, the Purple Prose contest (the one when Eve and Roarke went at it without somehow spraining anything was my favorite; maybe it was Traction in Death?)…I’ve been a prisoner of AAR for years and years. Now that I’m in their firing sites, it just makes them more irresistible. See, AAR isn’t interested in making friends, or sucking up. It’s not a fangirl site. It’s a site for book lovers who will read a book and tell the world exactly what they thought. (Think about that a minute.) You’re not safe at AAR, no matter if you’re La Nora, the new kid on the block, or the vampire weirdo (that’d be, uh, me). I’m always thrilled to find my stuff reviewed at this site, and thrilled I’ve never gotten worse than a C. I imagine there’s an F waiting for me, but I’ll try to be ready for it on that day. For now, I’ll just check the site every day and snigger over some of the, ah, blunter reviews.

--MaryJanice Davidson, New York Times Best Selling Author
Average AAR grade: B

 

Susan Grant

I discovered AAR and began my relationship with this website in the best possible way: just before my debut book came out, Laurie mentioned on the site that she'd read Once a Pirate for review and loved it. Author Adele Ashworth (she and I were first getting published back in 1999-2000) wrote to tell me the exciting news, giving me the link to AAR, which I'd never heard of. That was back in 1999, and I've been coming back all the years since.

The wealth of information at AAR is amazing, and the reorganization of the databases Laurie has done over time has made it so easy to find anything I might be looking for. More than just data, I come here to interact with other authors and readers on the message boards, read reviews, participate in special projects, and I've even written an At the Back Fence column! AAR has been such an integral part of my writing career so far, and I truly believe has boosted my career. In fact, I am sure far fewer people would have learned about my early books if not for the word of mouth generated by exposure on AAR when Laurie and others mentioned them. She also worked with me closely when the news broke about my book Contact being kept off the shelves at Wal-Mart due to some post-9-11-romance-readers-frighten-too-easily hysteria. That seems so long ago now, but when it was happening, it was horrible. Having AAR reporting on it all gave me a place to come to give and take in information the situation unfolded.

Cheesy as it may sound, visiting AAR was, and still is, like coming home. I honest can't imagine the online romance community without AAR's presence.

 

Jo Leigh

I have no idea how long I've been checking in at AAR on a daily basis. Years, certainly. I remember the old format. I remember all kinds of kerfuffles and brouhahas. But mostly when I think of AAR, I think of the reviews and how much I appreciate them.

One in particular stands out for me. It was a review of one of my books. It got a C+, I believe. The reviewer pointed out something that the moment I read it, I realized was not just an issue in that particular book, but in a great many of my books. It rang so true, so clear that I was astonished that I hadn't noticed it myself. At the very least I would have expected an editor or critique partner to have caught on, but no. The review changed the way I approached my books, much for the better.

It's always nice to get accolades, but it's far more important to have honest, thoughtful, knowledgeable reviews in a world where romance novels are often dismissed out of hand. I will continue to visit AAR on a daily basis for the reviews, the commentary, and the community. I applaud Laurie and the entire staff for doing such a masterful job.

 

Lisa Marie Rice

I live in an enchanted kingdom, far far away. It is true that this kingdom boasts a sunny clime, glorious art and divine food and wine. However, hardly anybody in this kingdom reads English novels. And even worse, hardly anyone reads romance. For someone like myself, who passionately loves romance, this is a huge handicap. Enormous. Enough to make you rethink the importance of tiramisù, Michelangelo and Barolo in the Great Scheme of Things.

Luckily, there is All About Romance. I’ll never forget when I first discovered it—a place where everyone loves romance. Where everyone reads voraciously, passionately identifies with the characters, suffers with them, falls in love with them. That moment when I bonded with AAR remains a personal milestone. For the romance lover, AAR has everything. Heat and passion and wit and discernment. Knowledge of the genre coupled with a knowledge of where romance fits into publishing and into the wider world. Whether you find yourself smiling in recognition at some of the reviews or frowning in disagreement, there’s no doubt the reviews are smart and well-reasoned and give you a clear feel for the book.

And what to say about the forums? Follow the threads and be plunged into a delightful ongoing conversation with people who would be close friends if only they lived next door. But it’s as if they did, as if, indeed, you were talking over the back fence about your favourite books and favourite authors.

All About Romance is a reader and a writer’s best friend.

 

Sandra Schwab

As one of the oldest online romance websites and communities, AAR enjoys considerable prestige, and even more importantly, readers trust AAR to provide tough, but honest reviews.

As a reader, I like the AAR community -- it's a great place for discussion and for finding new books and authors! I particularly enjoy the At the Back Fence column, which gives thought-provoking views on all aspects of romance and reading.

As a writer, I appreciate how much time and effort goes into AAR reviews, which are often longer than those found on many other wites. Therefore, even if the review is less than glowing, readers will still be able to determine whether the book in question contains elements they might be interested in. If it is a glowing review, on the other hand, it carries much weight. I am very proud indeed to have had a quotation from AAR on the cover of Castle of the Wolf!

 

Keri Arthur

Congrats, AAR, on becoming ten years old! That’s an awesome achievement in any world, let alone the cyber one.

I discovered AAR some five years ago--yes, I was a little slow catching up with the best places to be on the net. Back then, paranormal books were basically unheard of here in Australia, and it was difficult to find any information about them via regular means. Can you imagine my delight when I found a site that not only reviewed paranormals, but they also reviewed a whole heap of other books and genres I’d never heard of before? It was like finding a chocolate-filled heaven.

I think what I liked most about AAR was the honesty of the reviews. I might not always agree with them, but I appreciated the fact that these opinions were here, offering me good points, bad points, and even indifference. All of which helped me make up my mind many a time as to whether I should buy a book or not.

So thanks AAR for providing endless hours of reading enjoyment through your reviews, ATBF and the forums. May you be around for many more years to come!

Happy anniversary.

Jaid Black

Winning the 2000 PPP contest at AAR was what first made me realize that my writing could possibly have an audience out there. No author (or their humor) is for every reader, but it was because of AAR that I knew a significant amount of my future work would delve into comedic situations. Even the darkest of stories that I pen is always tinged with funny, often times campy, moments.

Since it's inception, AAR has been dedicated to providing readers with honest reviews. We authors might not always like what Laurie's reviewers have to say (and Lord knows I've taken some beatings here!), but the dedication and love of what they do is evident.

Happy 10th Birthday to AAR!! And congratulations, Laurie, on a job well done!

 

Anna Campbell

Congratulations to All About Romance on reaching its ten year anniversary!

I first discovered a lot of my favorite writers through reading AAR when I started to use the Internet back in the late ‘90s (I’m always slow to embrace new technology!). AAR introduced me to wonderful classic romances by people like Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jennifer Crusie and Linda Howard. Those books are still on my keeper shelves and I’ve read and re-read them since and they never fail to make me smile.

There have been so many changes in romance since then. The number of genres and sub-subgenres now is absolutely astounding. Going to my local romance specialist is like going to the world’s greatest buffet. I can’t help smiling to remember when I first started reading romance as a pre-teenager. All that was available in Australia was Harlequin Presents (although they were just Mills & Boons then) and Barbara Cartland. Then of course, Kathleen Woodiwiss revolutionized the romance market with her historical romances so we had a stack of delicious historicals to buy. Compared to those dim, distant days, the current options are mind-boggling.

It makes you wonder where this wonderful genre we all love so much will go next! And I’m sure wherever that is, AAR will be there.

Happy birthday, AAR!

 

Kristina Cook

As an author and an avid reader, All About Romance is the first place I go to for up-to-date reviews, informative articles, and all things romance! From the monthly At the Back Fence feature to the reader polls and interviews, there's always something new and interesting to read at AAR. As an author, I find the advertising opportunities at AAR terrific, providing great visibility at an affordable price.

Probably my favorite part of AAR, though, is the forums--the discussion there is always lively, relevant, and well informed. Whenever I finish reading a romance, I like to go to the forums and see what other readers are saying about the same book. The debate often gets intense, a sure sign of romance's 'power' to inspire strong feelings in readers' minds. I have great respect for the AAR community--as Carly Simon says, “Nobody does it better…”

Congratulations to AAR on ten fabulous years, and best wishes for many more!

 

Sylvia Day

I first discovered All About Romance about four years ago. I liked the review format straightaway. Instead of a few brief sentences of the reviewer’s thoughts, the AAR reviews were lengthy pieces that went into great detail. As an author, I’ve had AAR reviews ranging from a Desert Isle Keeper to a D, and I’ve always appreciated knowing the precise reasons why a particular grade was awarded.

As I continue to visit AAR, I’ve been amazed at all the features the community offers that I’m just now discovering. Have you looked at the menu lately? There is so much to see and lots of well categorized information on just about anything you can think of regarding romance novels.

I’m always thrilled to find other readers who love romances as much as I do. Regardless of the controversy that accompanies some AAR discussions, I’ve never doubted that the visitors are genre enthusiasts. As both a reader and a writer, I think that’s a wonderful thing.

Happy Anniversary, All About Romance! I wish you many, many more!

 

Lori Devoti

Practically every day as I’m pretending to write writing, I find my hand drifting toward my mouse and clicking on my browser. Almost magically (okay it’s auto fill) AAR’s address appears in the address bar. And there I am addictively searching to see if any new reviews have been posted. It’s sad; truly it is.

AAR has a lot to offer besides reviews--polls and message boards being two of my favorites. The polls appeal to my reader side and the message boards can just be darn informative. They are a great place to go if you are looking for advice on a new author to try, or which book to read next. But the big pull for me has to be the reviews.

Why read AAR’s reviews? They have a reputation for being tough, which I believe is deserved, but for the most part they’re honest too, and I appreciate that. I even appreciate it when my own book is being reviewed. And as a reader, I definitely want to hear real opinions—not dressed up to make an author feel good, or funnied up to pull in more readers for the review site. AAR gives us honest opinions—even if what they have to say doesn’t always look good on a bookmark.

 

Amanda Grange

I discovered AAR about four or five years ago when I was browsing the web and I’d never seen a site like it. Once I’d got over my bemusement at its sheer size and scope I began to explore, feeling like Lucy when she wandered through the back of the wardrobe and found herself in Narnia.

I discovered a lot of new authors from reading the reviews and I enjoyed reading the thought-provoking articles. And then I discovered the PPP competition. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much. The first PPP I read was Cheryl Sneed’s To Refuse A Reprobate, closely followed by Blythe Barnhill’s Epilogue, and I was hooked. The PPPs became my motivator when a book was going badly because I’d tell myself, ‘Finish this chapter and then you can read another PPP’. It also became my treat because I’d think, ‘When I finish the book I’ll have another PPP’.

I loved it so much that in 2003 I entered it myself. I’d just started writing Darcy’s Diary (the hardback version of Mr Darcy’s Diary) and I was obsessed with Jane Austen. I was also amazed at the way in which American Regencies had diverged from their English traditional counterparts. The two ideas combined in my imagination and I sent a skit about Jane Austen trying to sell a novel to a US publisher. I was astounded, but very pleased, when I won. I wasn’t going to enter the following year until Laurie mentioned the idea of a chick lit parody, and the idea of Miss Bridget Jane’s Diary popped into my head.

I never cease to be amazed by the fact that one site can offer so much, with serious and thought-provoking articles and reviews on the one hand and laugh-out-loud pages on the other. And as if this wasn’t enough, there are pages on history, polls, interviews and of course the chat boards. But all of this doesn’t happen on its own. I know from experience that even sharing a blog takes time and effort, and even thinking of running a site as big as AAR is exhausting. And yet Laurie and the staff do it year in, year out, so that the rest of us can have somewhere to celebrate romance.

With such freshness and variety, not to mention hard work on the part of everyone running the site, it’s no wonder it’s lasted for 10 years.

Excuse me whilst I take a glass of champagne from the tray of a passing footman – ah, an excellent vintage. Here’s to the next 10 years.

Amanda Grange won the Purple Prose Parody Contest in 2003 and 2004

 

Lucy Monroe

Ten years of loving romance? Now that's something to celebrate. I started reading romance when I was 13 and I've loved it for almost three decades. I write in order to share that love with others. And isn't that what All About Romance is "all about"? Sharing one's love of the genre with like minds. What a gift.

As an author, I've been so very blessed by some of the reactions to my stories shared on AAR. Every single reader who expresses appreciation for the books that come directly from my heart is a gift to me. AAR's format that allows those readers to share their experiences and impressions with one another is an amazing and wonderful thing.

Long live all our love of romance!

 

Elizabeth Rolls

If you must have it, writing can get a little lonely at times. Don’t get me wrong – I do like having the house and five acres to myself each day unless you include the three dogs, cat, four alpacas, two sheep and the partridge in the pear tree. But just occasionally I miss “going to work”. Not much and not often, but it does happen. Most of the things I miss about teaching music I can get elsewhere. I volunteer to take the choir at my sons’ school and stuff like that. I still sing and I still bash away at the piano. Luckily the closest house is over one hundred yards away and we have solid brick walls.

What I really miss though is getting into the staffroom at break and having a coffee and a good gossip about work. The coffee bit is easy. But the chat and discussion is a little harder. Of course I belong to various author loops and go to conferences, but sometimes it is great to just drop in at AAR and spend some time browsing the threads as a reader. I don’t read them all. There just isn’t time. I check out the Potpourri and Reader to Reader message boards and the ATBF board if the column grabbed my attention.

You see I just love talking about books, and it’s enormous fun to come together with a group of like-minded people. I love the wide range of books discussed, from the classics to current, or in my case not-so-current YA. I love that although there are frequent disagreements of opinion, mostly people are able to accept that not everyone likes the same books. My favourite disclaimer: one reader’s keeper is another reader’s wallbanger. I love that the members here are interested in the whole industry and finding out how things work in publishing. And I really love that unless I choose to post I can remain invisible and not find myself being volunteered to organise the school ski trip. Even if I do post I’m not going to find myself sliding down a mountainside backwards on my butt with twenty adolescent girls taking photos.

Of course there are things that annoy me at times, like people dissing books they haven’t read. Or the occasional reader assuming that because they didn’t like a particular book no one else should either. But there were things in the staffroom that used to annoy me too, and I learnt to keep my mouth shut or to be tactful if my jaw insisted on flapping.

So AAR is break time for me. I might post or more likely I might not. There isn’t always time. Sometimes I used to charge through the staffroom clutching a cup of coffee on my way to a rehearsal. But I like to listen in. I’ve picked up some terrific recommendations from here, mainly from discussion threads. Reviews are useful, but it’s only one person’s thoughts and as we all know two different readers can take the same book and write very different reviews. I get a better idea of whether or not I want to read something from a discussion because it brings out so many different facets of a book.

And the more I think and talk about books and writing, the better it is for my own writing. Creativity of any sort doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Arguing and discussing issues sharpens your thinking and takes you in new directions. I found that in the staffroom too. Different people had different ways of teaching things. Sometimes I’d find that something the history teacher was doing would tie in with my music history class. The English teacher was slightly startled to find me reading Romantic poetry to my senior music class.

I suppose you could look on it as a sort of cross pollination, and that’s what I find at AAR. I don’t always have to agree and neither does anyone else. Just as long as we can all be civilised about it. And when we can’t then at least we can pick up the bits and be civilised later.

I think it says something for AAR that it’s been around for so long and that it has gone through so many changes without losing its essential character- people say what they honestly think. That’s a valuable commodity in anyone’s currency.

 

E. C. Sheedy

All About Romance. Ten years and counting. Wow! You have my utmost respect for surviving and prospering in the wild and wonderful world of the internet. Not that I’m surprised . . .

I mean, really, what reader—or writer—can resist boards that have topics like:

Romances are better than ever!
Recommendations for a snobby friend.
Should love always be triumphant?
Virgin heroes
Reading style—skipping back and forth

Or my personal guilty pleasure, Covers that make you do a double-take!

This is fun stuff! Entertaining stuff! And if the world of romance writing and reading is anything, it’s entertaining; be it populated by werewolves, vampires, aristocrats, alpha whos, or the Grinch who stole Christmas.

I’ve been loitering about the AAR site for a few years now—I even work up the nerve to post now and again when a blue moon rises—and I enjoy your site immensely. During my visits I’ve been challenged by intelligent banter, instructed by well-founded opinions, and left slack-jawed by the occasional inanity—and yes, I’ve even been reviewed, a good and a not so good.

But I’ve never been bored, which leaves me hoping AAR will be around for another ten years, and another . . .

Congratulations, All About Romance!

 

Karen Templeton

I was actually startled to realize I’ve been regularly popping into AAR – and participating in many of the MB discussions – for nearly the entire ten years the site’s been up and running. Considering the dearth of romance websites that have been in my Favorites folder for that long – or that stay for longer than a few months – that says a lot.

Between back-to-back deadline crunches and the challenges of steering five children into adulthood (and beyond!), I’m very particular about how I spend my online time. So when I’m in the mood for intelligent, reasoned and insightful conversation about the romance genre, I come to AAR, where even the most in-depth discussions rarely overheat, and where I can feel, as a romance author, that our work as a whole is respected, even when particular aspects are questioned or even criticized. As a reader, I’ve discovered authors I might not have heard of otherwise through fellow AARites’ conversations about books old and new. As an author, I find reader commentary – especially about general themes and storylines – to be immensely helpful when developing my own work (yes, I listen!).

But most of all, I keep returning to AAR because it’s fun...a place where people who enjoy reading and writing romance can exchange ideas and opinions, or even disagree with each other, in an atmosphere of mutual respect. There truly is no place like it in cyberspace.

 

Christine Wells

Oh, my ears and whiskers, is it ten years? Congratulations, All About Romance! To become such an institution in the ephemeral cyber-world is a marvelous achievement.

One thing I love about reading and writing romance is the wonderful sense of community it’s brought me. I adore living in Australia but when I first started haunting the AAR site, I’d been cut off from a lot of good stuff—the infinite variety of romance you can find in U.S. bookstores, the ability to buy new releases the week they came out, the luxury of discussing favorite authors and books with other, like-minded (or even contrary-minded) souls.

When I discovered All About Romance, it was a revelation. Here were others who loved romance as much as I did arguing about books and talking about characters as if they were old friends. There were author interviews and columns that were thought-provoking and scholarly, sparking fascinating discussions. And I picked up enough great recommendations to fill a desert island with my TBR pile.

So cheers to you, All About Romance! And here’s to many more years of good times.

 

Karyn Witmer/
Elizabeth Grayson

It's hard to believe that this is the tenth anniversary for All About Romance. Not just because that time has flown, but because it seems to me as if AAR has always been there - the very backbone of the romance community on line. I can only imagine what inspired Laurie to begin her site, but I think it had to be the same compulsion all we readers/writers feel. That once we've finished reading a book, we want to be able to discuss it with other bright, insightful, like-minded (or maybe not so like-minded) people. We want to talk about what we read with other women (and some men) who care as passionately about love stories as we do. Laurie and her marvelous staff have given us a place to do that.

As if that's not enough, they've given us a terrific, honest review connection. They've provided excellent and ongoing op ed pieces on the genre, the characters portrayed, trends and what's behind them, and the readers themselves. The various bulletin boards - although I rarely post - are a constant source of information and recommendations for future reads. I love the sections where writers post essays on writing and also the interviews the AAR staff has done with some of my own must-read authors. And on top of everything else, AAR has given us castles to dream on.

In the last ten years Laurie, her staff, and All About Romance has excelled, going way beyond what anyone who visited the site in those early days envisioned or dreamed it could be. Congratulations to AAR on not just reaching the ten year mark, but becoming a such a vital and enduring presence on the web, in the minds and on the bookmark lists of romance readers everywhere.

Happy tenth anniversary, AAR, and many more!

It's Our Tenth Anniversary Online!

10 Anniversary Sweekstakes | Epilogue Parodies | Reader Testimonials

Post to our 10th Anniversary Celebration Forum Archives

 




Use Freefind to locate other material at the site
 

Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved