All About Romance
Reviews Parody Contest

Check out the Reviews Parody Contest for 2000!

December 25, 1999:
Merry Christmas, everyone, and a joyous holiday season to all! Today we announce the winner in our first ever Reviews Parody Contest! First we'd like to thank all those brave and talented readers who participated in the contest. Every entry was incredibly creative and laugh-out-loudable! Next I'd like to thank all of AAR's Reviewers who participated in the contest knowing they were not eligible to win. Finally, we'd all like to thank you, the reader, in advance, for reading these parodies.

We would love to turn this into an annual contest, in much the same way as our Purple Prose Parody Contest has become an annual contest. We realize there was a difference between the two contests in that AAR's Editors selected the winner for the Reviews Parody Contest while readers have always voted for the winner in the PPP Contest. The reason for this difference this year (and hopefully, this year only), was because of time constraints. We wanted to announce the winner on Christmas Day, but since we didn't begin the contest until November 20th and wanted to allow as many intrepid readers to enter as was possible, we only allotted two days for voting.

If you enjoyed this contest, please let us know about it by posting to the Reviews Message Board under the thread "Reviews Parody Contest." If enough of you post that you enjoyed the contest, we'll run it again next year. If not, we'll assume it wasn't as fun for you as it was for us. Also, we'd love to hear from you about the winner we selected. . .and so, without futher ado, the winning entry is:

Proud Pillars Thrusting by Anne E. Mouse

"Anne," congratulations on winning! You will be mailed an autographed copy of Ronda Thompson's Isn't it Romantic? (a Desert Isle Keeper) after the first of the year.

We hope "Anne" will feel comfortable enough to "out" herself on the Reviews Message Board so that you all will be able to congratulate her more directly. "Anne," we'd love to hear from you about how it feels to have won!

Why did "Anne" win? Hmmm, it's hard to say, although the clincher for AAR Editor Marianne Stillings was the "wet spot" reference. For me it was likely the "clarity and the verisimilitude of this author’s prose" - I would have loved to have used that phrase myself in a book I awarded DIK Status!

This contest was the brainchild of AAR Reviewer Robin Nixon Uncapher. During the summer, AAR Reviewer Anne Marble jokingly created a title for an Indian romance - Naked Under the Loincloth. Although there exists no book for that title, Robin couldn't resist writing the review. She had so much fun doing it that it occurred to her that others might enjoy doing the same thing. Then Robin wondered what it would be like if romance authors had the chance to poke a bit of fun at us reviewers. The idea was irresistible. She wondered whether readers of AAR Reviews ever had the urge to:

  • Make up a book just for the chance to review it?
  • Write a satirical review of the review you are reading?
  • Apply the reviewer's "romance style rules" to a masterpiece? (Write a "romance review" of Ulysses, for example.)

Robin had - so she came to me with the idea of a contest. She thought review parodies might:

  • Be a gushing review of a book you hated
  • Be a critical review of a book you loved
  • Be a review parodying AAR or any other publication (print or otherwise) - just make sure you reference in your email which publication you are parodying
  • Poke fun at an actual review we have online at AAR, for instance, if you loved a book that we hated, or vice versa
  • Parody any of AAR's reviews or any other AAR feature

Below you will find the reader-submitted review parodies - no authors sent in parodies this year, but we hope if there is a next year for this contest that some authors will participate! These reader-submitted parodies are on the first two pages of this feature. Following these parodies you will find the "sample" reviews as submitted by AAR's Reviewers, who were not eligible to win, but had a ball writing the parodies regardless. You'll notice that our "sample" reviews are positive ones unless we were poking fun at ourselves by trashing a book we consider a classic. BTW, we added two new "sample" reviews just today - be sure to check them out!

Proud Pillars Thrusting

By Erin T. Cahh, 1999, Indian Romance


It is rare to read a first effort of the magnitude of Proud Pillars Thrusting. I am, frankly, pleasantly surprised to discover this book in hardcover. The publishers have evidently realized the value of the perfection of prose and characterization. The dust jacket is of a Renaissance painting, one that depicts the richness of Venice and hints at the tale inside the covers.

Where do I begin?

The author has taken the unusual and innovative tack of having no underlying plot. But that doesn’t detract from the characters’ interaction. On the contrary, the avoidance of sub-plot and ancillary characters cleans the canvas of this remarkable work of art, leaving us to feel as the characters feel, experience the depth of their emotion as they learn about themselves and each other.

“John, oh, John!” she screamed, arching her hips.

“Marsha, oh, Marsha!” he grunted, thrusting deeply into her.

Such is the clarity and the verisimilitude of this author’s prose. I found myself more than once wondering how a woman, clearly so young from her author photo, was able to tap into the emotions of people twice her age. But that was only one clue to her literary brilliance.

Her ability to communicate the anguish and the tragedy of syphilis had me weeping in compassion more than once. If I had had gonads, they would have swollen in sympathy.

The poetic purity of the author’s writing shines through each and every page. Especially in the final scene, where the hero lovingly and tenderly uses the heroine’s navel as a repository for his seed because she is too sore to take him once again. How much more uplifting and cerebral can writing be?

I simply cannot say enough about this book. It is, plainly put, a sweeping panorama of passion. One scene after another of turgid flesh and engorged nipples and fluids of all description had me turning page after page. I was captivated by the heroine’s tears, ached in compassion for her obvious (dare I say it?) saddle sores. But the last scene, where they fall asleep entwined in each other’s arms in the middle of the wet spot has me wiping yet another tear from my eye.

-- Anne E. Mouse

Anne E. Mouse is the pseudonym of a reader who would like to remain anonymous.

Love's Tormenting Torment

By Francine Columbus, 1999, Western Romance

Grade:A+
Sensuality:Hot


If you're anything like me, you love a deliciously dark, dreary and tormented hero. The hero of Francie Columbus's Love's Tormenting Torment is all that, and more. Jake Starling is a man on the run from the past that he just can't forget. Early in the book (I am not giving away any spoilers here), we find out that Jake is haunted by the memory of his pet cow, Mirabelle, killed for meat on his mother's farm when Jake was 16. Unable to save Mirabelle, Jake has been fleeing from his guilt ever since, vowing to live a meatless lifestyle, and to never love a faithless woman ever again. He is also a man with a mission: to save other cows from the same fate that befell his own beloved pet.

Caroline Fairchild is the beautiful, only daughter of a Texas cattle baron, and meets Jake as he tries to free some of her father's cattle from certain death. Intrigued by this brooding stranger who treats her with contempt merely because she is female, she keeps his secret. She sets herself to accomplish a difficult task - to teach Jake how to love her - and meat - again. Complicating the situation is the Fairchilds' evil foreman, Carl Peters, who kidnaps Caroline in an attempt to make her love him.

Ms. Columbus's lyrical writing style and evident research make the 19th-century American West come alive with details of the cattle business and the difficulty in getting vegetarian meals in the Old West. The love scenes are incredibly hot, especially once Jake realizes that being a loner is not nearly as much fun as having sex.

I highly recommend this novel, and am looking forward to this author's next foray into the writing world, whether her next book is a romance, or a vegetarian cookbook.

-- Karen Stefanik

Dangerous Curves

By Sandy Beach, 1999, Romantic Suspense

Grade:A
Sensuality:Boiling


When beloved category author Sandy Beach announced her plans to write a romantic suspense for her hardcover debut, I too was skeptical. Would the old Beach magic still be there? Well, I am pleased to announce that Dangerous Curves is Beach’s most original and gripping work to date.

Melody Dummkopf, the child of penniless German immigrants, has escaped her childhood poverty through her brains and stunning Teutonic good looks. By working as the Golden Shower Beer Girl, she has put herself through Harvard Law School. As the book begins, she rejects several prestigious job offers to return to her blue-collar hometown of Curves, New Jersey, as the newly hired public defender. Despite her ocean-blue eyes and ample... dimples, the twenty-four year old Melody has never attracted any man except for her creepy stepcousin Block Head. The loathsome Block pursues Melody even as he belittles her intelligence and breast size. “They’re real, I swear!” the feisty Melody screams out the back window of her pickup truck as she runs off the road.

Brick Manly has led a life of adventure and intrigue as a CIA double agent. Years of martinis, sportscars, beautiful scantily-clad women, and nifty poison-gas pens have made him long for the simple pleasures of small-town America. At age thirty-nine, he has retired from the CIA and become the sheriff of Curves. But Brick knows he’ll have no peace when he investigates the one-vehicle wreck off Main Street. When Brick sees Melody, sparks fly, despite their obvious conflict of interest as she defends the lowlifes he arrests.

But all is not well in Curves. A mysterious stalker is sending Melody dead fish in the mail. Brick and Melody’s confrontation over her safety touchingly reveals his protectiveness and her independence:

“Come home with me, Melody. You can’t take care of yourself,” Brick shouted huskily.

“Sure I can!" Melody squealed. She turned on her heel. Brick saw the slimy dead flounder, but it was too late to stop her fall. . .

Brick shows his sensitive side by taking Melody home to nurse her back to health. Fearing a concussion, he keeps her awake through five rounds of eye-popping sex. I wept with envy.

I don’t want to spoil any surprises. Suffice it to say that the mystery of the evil stalker kept me guessing for a whole five suspenseful minutes. The court scenes are better than an episode of Ally McBeal. The book also shows Beach’s intimate knowledge of New Jersey through the loudmouthed, nosy inhabitants of Curves. I have never seen such thorough research in a romance novel. The love story is filled with tender shouting, and best of all, the sex is really, really steamy. I’ll never look at water balloons the same way again.

Run, don’t walk, to your bookstore and pick up Dangerous Curves. The price tag may seem steep, but this utterly unpredictable and sexy story is worth every penny.

-- Kelly Parker

The Son Also Rises

By Ernestina Hemingway, 1999, European Historical Romance (1920's)

Grade:A
Sensuality:Charred


This one is for those of us who absolutely adored those wonderful books by that dead white male author Ernest Hemingway that they made us read in English class-the short sentences, the aging men, the eternally young women. Now we have the thrill of witnessing a literary dynasty in the making. The author's illegitimate great-granddaughter (or maybe it's his great-great-granddaughter) is a fiery star on the creative horizon. What a debut!

Ms. Hemingway tells the uplifting story of a doomed love triangle. The heroine Blair is a stunningly beautiful spoiled rich girl whose brunette curls and ivory skin drive men mad with lust. The hero Jace is a classic tormented hero; injured in the war, he longs to be her lover but fears he can never satisfy her. The third member of the triangle is Fernando, a matador; his skin-tight pants which lovingly outline his impressive male equipment and his whip-like physique incite women to throw themselves in front of the bull to protect him. Tragically, an ill-placed goring has left him. . . well, not the man he once was.

The three meet in a smoky Spanish café near the coast. The author vividly describes their first meeting.

The air was hazy and they drank too much.

A reader can envision every dust mote, smell the sweat, taste the cheap wine.

In the hands of a less skillful writer, this could be a depressing tale. It is plain that the heroine is hot to trot, and the two men vying for her body parts don't seem likely to be scratching her itch anytime soon. Ms. Hemingway, however, turns her tale into a laugh-out-loud, frolicking romp with one graphically detailed sex scene after another - fortunately the village pharmacist has a seeming endless supply of Viagra, and both men have insurance with low co-pays. The earth moves. The beds move. The tables move. The chandeliers. . . . Well, you get the picture.

It's apparent to the reader early in the book that the hero is going to get the heroine and the matador is going to get the pharmacist's daughter, but the plot twists and the earthy - call it "get-down-and-dirty" - writing make this book impossible to put down. Unless, of course, you've absolutely got to try out the positions on pages 76 and 183. (They can be done. Trust me.)

I recommend running to your nearest bookstore immediately to get your own personal copy of The Son Also Rises (and that's not all that's rising!) before they're sold out. This one is not going on my keeper shelf but on my bedside table so that I can be sure to save it if the house burns down. And to have it handy to try out pages 76 and 183 again!

-- Annie Maus
Annie Maus is the pseudonym of a reviewer at another on-line romance review site who would like to remain anonymous.

The Cowboy, the Amnesiac Virgin, & the Secret Baby

By Chastity Chandler, January 2000, Contemporary Romance

Grade:A++
Sensuality:Scorching! Pages and pages of lovemaking without surcease...


Are you like me and simply adore romances teeming with cute babies, lusty virgins and studly cowboys? Don't you just love a handsome, swashbuckling, bandy-legged rancher whose gait always makes you think of riding a strong horse? Can you resist the sweet and piercing wails of a newborn child? And what about an innocent, round-eyed virgin who is on the threshold of womanhood and about to experience the ultimate ecstasy? If all these ingredients warm the cockles of your heart, then this is the book for you. Plus the plot incorporates some of my all-time favorite motifs: the Big Misunderstanding, the Big Secret, the amnesia plot and the thoroughly tortured hero. Ms Chandler manages to combine all of them in one single book, a major feat for a newcoming author if you ask me! Her innovations in the romance genre are groundbreaking and should be a model for any writer.

Virginia, a young, blond and beautiful sales representative travels through miles and miles of dusty prairie to sell a new kind of fertilizer to Jack Lonesome, a recluse who has never left his cattle-ranch since his wife left him for his best friend. When Virginia arrives, a mad cow breaks loose and tramples her down. When she awakes in the arms of the glowering Jack, she cannot even remember her name! They immediately fall in love and consummate their love quickly and frequently. Jack of course is convinced that he is only in lust with her, since all women are sluts anyway, but he cannot keep his hands of Virginia. Soon she discovers that she is pregnant. Jack delivers the baby himself, since on his ranch, there is no doctor around for 100 miles! I read this whole scene through a mist of tears, and so will you. One day later, Virginia's memory returns. She realizes that she cannot stay any longer, because, well, there is that big secret... but I won't give you any more spoilers!

The best thing about the book are the love scenes. They set the pages afire, so make sure to have a glass of icewater handy which you might conveniently pour over your heated head (and the rest of your body), ice-cubes and all. Jack is simply the most potent, exciting and inventive lover I have ever read about. Linda Howard's heroes are wimps in comparison! He makes love ten times a night, continues during daytime, and is still full of stamina the next night. He is insatiable, and our innocent virgin is practically comatose after three days. Wouldn't we all want to have such a wonderful lover for our first time? Needless to say that he brings her to fulfillment instantly. During her very first sexual experience, she flows from one climax to the next, and it hurts only for the first few seconds...

Kudos to Ms Chandler for bringing us such a satisfying read. I did not want the book to end, and immediately started rereading it. So far I have read it five times. I will definitely check out the next offering of this promising newcomer: The Pregnant Bride, the Runaway Baby & the Vampire Rancher. Randy Rave

-- Randy Rave aka Vivien Fritsche

Read the rest of the fabulous reader-submitted reviews
Read some of the terrific "sample" reviews AAR Reviewers sent in
Read more of our wonderful "sample" reviews
Check out the Reviews Parody Contest for 2000!

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