Meet Managing Editor/Senior Reviewer Blythe Barnhill
About Me Personal Reading Tastes

Like most of AAR reviewers, I was always the kid with a book in my hand. Every summer I would read up a storm while my mom would beg me to "put down that book and go outside." Now that I'm a parent, I never tell my children that. I also let them read until eleven if they want to; after all, I can't be a hypocrite!

I've always preferred historical fiction, and my favorite books as a teenager were classics like Pride and Prejudice, Gone with the Wind, and The Far Pavilions. I read a few romances in high school, but I'd been convinced by others that romances were for people who weren't smart, so avoided them for years, even though I knew I liked them. When I was pregnant with my second child, I was finally out of school and had some time on my hands, and suddenly I had the revelation that the only "dumb" readers are ones who don't read what they like. I started in with Coulter, Quick, Lindsey, and McNaught, and I've never looked back.

I've been reviewing and editing for AAR since 1998, and I absolutely love my job. My favorite authors have shifted a bit since I first started, and I read many more contemporary romances than I used to. Current favorites include Suzanne Brockmann, Diana Gabaldon, Julia Quinn, Carla Kelly, Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, Mary Balogh, and Mary Jo Putney. I read mostly romance now, but I take a break every month and read something more literary for my book club, and I am known to drop everything whenever Elizabeth George has a new book out.

When I'm not reading, reviewing, or "managing," I am usually busy with my four children (ages 3-11), chauffeuring to school, soccer, and other activities. In my spare time I volunteer in their classrooms and am active in the PTCO and school accountability committees (and yes, I'm opinionated there too). My colleagues know that I get about 75% of my work done after 11:00 pm - when everyone else is asleep.

What I'm a sucker for in a book: First-person point of view, Regency house parties, heroines married or engaged to "the wrong man," Colonial America/Revolutionary War settings, friends who fall in love, good "guy speak," spy heroes, bluestocking heroines, Regency governesses, and poor relations.

What I don't particularly care for in a book: Mistress plots, cross-class romances in historicals, bizarre will stipulations, baby/pregnancy plots, anachronistic language, and heroines in historicals who jump into bed without considering the reproductive consequences.

What drives me absolutely nuts in a book: Illogical plots, one-sentence paragraphs, obvious/simplistic writing that spells out every detail for you, Big Misunderstandings that could be solved with a five minute conversation, wounded heroes/heroines that spend the entire book wallowing in self-pity, gross historical errors, and werewolf or vampire romances.

Favorite Romance Novels

Absolute Favorite

Shattered Rainbows by Mary Jo Putney

Favorite Classic

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Favorite Short Stories

Just Curious (Simple Gifts) by Jude Deveraux
The Christmas Ornament (A Regency Christmas) by Carla Kelly

Romance Authors Favorite Characters

All-Time Favorite Romance Authors

Diana Gabaldon
Suzanne Brockmann
Mary Jo Putney (older books)

Best Discovery/Buried Treasure Author

Dana Ransom/Rosalyn West

My Biggest Glom

Mary Balogh
Carla Kelly

Author I Have Given Up On

Jude Deveraux

Authors Others Love That I Don't

Linda Howard
Elizabeth Lowell
Robin Schone

Favorite Hero

Jamie Fraser, Outlander
Rogan Sweeney, Born in Fire

Favorite Heroine

Catherine Melbourne, Shattered Rainbows

Most Tortured Hero

Michael Kenyon, Shattered Rainbows
Samuel Gerard, The Shadow and the Star

Strongest Heroine

Eve Dallas, In Death Series by J.D. Robb

Favorite Couple

Catherine Melbourne and Michael Kenyon, Shattered Rainbows
Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall, Outlander

Best Villain

Tyler Fairfax, from Rosalyn West's Men of Pride County Series

Favorites by Plot Type Favorites by Mood


Over the Edge by Suzanne Brockmann
Carnal Innocence by Nora Roberts

Cabin or Road:

Temptation's Trail by Dana Ransom
The Wedding Journey by Carla Kelly


Nobody's Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips


Over the Edge by Suzanne Brockmann
Truly, Madly Yours by Rachel Gibson

Comfort Read Author(s):

Paradise by Judith McNaught

Most-Hanky Reads:

Always to Remember by Lorraine Heath
Shattered Rainbows by Mary Jo Putney

Guilty Pleasure:

Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught

Favorites by Sub-Genre


Wicked by Jill Barnett

Traditional Regency:

The Notorious Rake by Mary Balogh

European Historical:

Shattered Rainbows by Mary Jo Putney
Rendezvous by Amanda Quick

American Historical:

Temptation's Trail by Dana Ransom
The Beloved One by Danelle Harmon



Paradise by Judith McNaught
Born in Fire by Nora Roberts
Over the Edge by Suzanne Brockmann

Alternate Reality:

The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon


Get Lucky by Suzanne Brockmann

Least Favorites

Most Disappointing Book

The Burning Point by Mary Jo Putney

Worst Book

The Last Male Virgin by Katherine Deauxville
The Great Baby Caper by Eugenia Riley

Most Annoying Lead Character

Michel des Anges, The Lover
Dr. Peter Havistock, The Last Male Virgin

Purple Prose-iest Book

The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

Non-Romance Favorites

Favorite Author

Barbara Kingsolver
Elizabeth George

Favorite Book

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Possession by A.S. Byatt
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

Favorite Classic Novel

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Favorite Mystery

The Lynley Mysteries by Elizabeth George

Favorite SF/Fantasy

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Favorite Women's Fiction

The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas

Favorite YA Book

Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery
Amanda by Candace F. Ransom

Favorite Set of Connected Books

The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon
The In Death Series by J.D. Robb
The Anne Series by L.M. Montgomery

Book Most Often Reread

Paradise by Judith McNaught (a romance)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery

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