Is that a sword in your pocket?

August 22nd, 2014

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. Read the rest of this entry »

TBR Challenge – Heating Up the Summer

August 20th, 2014

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Critique Partners, Continents Apart

August 18th, 2014

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Fairytales in Romance

August 15th, 2014

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Special Titles Update!

August 13th, 2014

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 Read the rest of this entry »

Our First Take on Outlander: The Series

August 11th, 2014

outlander_starzStarz’s adaptation of Outlander, with Caitriona Balfe as Claire and Sam Heughan as Jamie, premiered last week with a free online episode available here. Outlander is a legend in the romance world and here at AAR, where it’s placed in the top five romances in every annual poll except 2004 (it “crashed” to seventh). I’m a fan of the books but not a die-hard, so I’m not troubled by minor plot deviations or additions as long as they’re in the spirit of Gabaldon’s book. I’m looking for something that captures the detailed, warts-and-all Highland setting, Claire’s confidence and competence, Jamie’s honesty and enthusiasm, and their marvelous, inevitable attraction. On the basis of the first episode, I’m optimistic that this series is going to deliver. Read the rest of this entry »

AAR’s Maggie Interviews Mary Kubica, Author of The Good Girl

August 8th, 2014

image“I’ve been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don’t know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she’s scared. But I will.” Read the rest of this entry »

Possessive, check. Jealous, check. Volatile, check.

August 6th, 2014

Mr. BigIt’s no mystery that the Alpha-Male character type has dominated romantic fiction. Nearly any romance you pick up will feature one of these tough, rugged, manly men out to woo their lady of choice with their muscular body and chiseled looks. I don’t mind indulging in this type of fantasy at all when reading romance, although I do enjoy the sweet, Beta-Male as well. However, lately, I’ve noticed that the trend has shifted away from the standard Alpha, which is normally a beefcake with a heart of gold, to what I like to call the Alpha-Douche. This guy is possessive, volatile, jealous, and borders on stalking the lead female. I have to wonder, why is it that this type of man has gotten so popular recently? Read the rest of this entry »

Speaking of Audiobooks: Notable August Releases, MOBY, and STARZ Outlander

August 4th, 2014

Heroes Are My WeaknessAugust is always a strong month for romance audiobook releases and this year is especially strong evidence of such. Here are just a few titles worthy of your attention in August.

Heroes Are My Weakness – Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Narrated by Erin Bennett

A lover of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ books for at least a dozen years now, I always eagerly anticipate each of her new releases. I’m unfamiliar with Erin Bennett but she’s not new to narrating. At Audible, I found close to Read the rest of this entry »

Romance Writers Rock my Favorite Bookstore

July 31st, 2014

When I was 18 and arrived in North Carolina to go to school, I was thrilled to discover The Regulator Bookshop. Its shelves held fiction so tempting that for the next 25 years, throughout college, graduate school, and grown-up life, I bought as many books as I could afford. To this day, when someone says “indie bookstore,” I think of The Regulator and smile. So it was a joy to see the place I’ve so loved host four fabulous romance writers for an evening of romance and rose. Authors Virginia Kantra, Jennifer Lohmann, Katharine Ashe, and Jessica Scott talked to a standing room crowd about their work. Read the rest of this entry »