Books With Buzz: Sarah Mayberry Interview and Giveaway

When readers list their favorite writers of category romance, Sarah Mayberry consistently makes the lists. Her characters feel very real, and her ear for dialogue makes their stories a delight to read. In addition, she tends to be a versatile author, writing stories with heat that fits in well with the Blaze line while also exploring family situations and deep emotion within the Superromance line.

In her latest release, The Other Side of Us(due out this Wednesday!), Mayberry takes readers to a beach community in Australia where the hero and heroine have retreated from their usual lives. For one, the discovery of an affair has led to the end of a marriage, while the other is still on the long road to recovery following a devastating car accident. The new neighbors are prickly with each other at first and there’s certainly a lot of believable baggage between them, but watching them create a relationship is a delight. Mackenzie and Oliver are both mature, intelligent characters and both the emotion and heat in this book made it good reading.

And we have three(3) copies to give away! If you’d like to win a copy of The Other Side of Us, just comment below by 11:59 p.m. on January 3, 2012. This contest is open to both US and international readers. […]

By | December 31st, 2012|Categories: Books with Buzz, Lynn AAR|Tags: , , |47 Comments

Separating the Narrator from a Series

I became addicted to audiobooks about seven years ago and haven’t looked back. Before I had a membership at audible (thank you Lea, for the recommendation) I listened to audiobooks on CDs. Because CDs were quite costly, I primarily stuck with audiobooks by my favorite authors such as Jayne Ann Krentz, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nora Roberts, and Linda Howard. I was unwilling to take a chance on newer authors. However, sometimes even with those favorites, the audio version was a risk in the hands of a less-than-desirable narrator.

Thanks to my audible membership I’m able to sample books before I download them, to make certain that I actually like the narrator. And thanks to Lea’s wonderful Speaking of Audiobooks columns, I’m now alerted to new-to-me narrators. As Lea wrote in her very first Speaking of Audiobooks column back in June of 2009, it’s all about the narrator. Over the last seven years I’ve discovered such wonderful narrators as Tanya Eby, Kate Reading, Xe Sands, Justine, Eyre, Susan Ericksen, and Anna Fields. […]

By | December 28th, 2012|Categories: LinnieGayl AAR|Tags: , , , , |25 Comments

Cheating Hearts

There are few deal-breakers as universal as infidelity. Most readers avoid any mention of it like the plague, and very few authors can – or even try to– pull off a believable HEA when one of the protagonists cheats on the other. But what if the hero and heroine cheat together?

I recently read Just One of the Guys by Kristan Higgins, in which the hero and heroine sleep together despite the fact that they are both seeing other people. Obviously they both eventually break up with those other people and they end up together (it is a romance novel, after all) but not before they each return to their significant others and try to work things out. […]

By | December 26th, 2012|Categories: Romance reading|Tags: , , , , , |14 Comments

Christmas Tree Ornaments

006My mother collects Christmas tree ornaments. She puts about five ornaments on each single twig of the tree (I kid you not), and the overall effect is slightly overwhelming but very beautiful and festive. Over the years, I have been given a few ornaments for Christmas, so that my own tree looks quite nice, too. I don’t receive the very best ornaments, but sometimes she finds more than one of a sort at some flea market or Christmas fair, and then she passes it to me. Or I have liked one so very much that she found it in her heart to part with it. (She is a true collector, and doesn’t part with her treasures easily.) Here are some of my ornaments that I really like: […]

By | December 26th, 2012|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Rike Horstmann|Tags: , , |4 Comments

Lynn's Christmas Sugar Cookies

IMG_0935 (1280x853) Christmas just isn’t the same for me without sugar cookies cut into all kinds of festive shapes. My mother has a huge old cookbook she got as a graduation gift, and she just keeps stuffing recipes written on cards and random slips of paper into it. This cookie recipe is one copied by my great-grandmother onto a faded sheet of stationery and as children we always lit up when we saw the familiar sheet of paper emerge from the big yellow cookbook. Over the years, the recipe has been updated by various family members (no more lard!!), but we still love to make and decorate these cookies. Something about them just says Christmas! […]

By | December 24th, 2012|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Cooking, Lynn Spencer|Tags: , , |5 Comments

Cindy's Maid Marians (aka Maid of Honors, aka Whatever You Want to Call Them)

barThese are, by far, one of my favorite treats. In all the years I’ve known about these squares, no one has really revealed a name they would be known as and forget about getting the recipe from those who make it – they just smile and give me a small tin. I was introduced to these wonderful creations when I was 11 and my mother made a batch. I had never had anything like them and I remember begging my mother to make them again but alas, she told me the ingredients were too expensive to make them again.

It was 10 long years before I found them again, and color me shocked that it was my Mom’s best friend who was making them. I all but cried! She told me they are called Maid of Honors and every few years a small tin shows up at Christmas and I am delighted all over again. Sadly, every few years is a long time for my memory so I would ask her if she was going to bake any Maid Marians and there would be much laughter. My mother decided a few years ago that she was jealous of this tin that would show up every once in a while and insisted she get a taste of these special bars. To this day, she says she never made them but she was also overly delighted by these scrumptious squares, and now I’m pretty sure that any tin that has been making its way to me has been waylaid by my mother. […]

By | December 22nd, 2012|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Cooking|Tags: , , , |9 Comments

Lea's Cashew Nut Cookies

Cashew-CookiesYears ago when my son was a toddler, I was fortunate to be a stay-at-home mom. My visits with other moms as our children enjoyed a play date were special occasions for the children as well as a time of building friendships of my own. It was also early marriage for most of us and we constantly shared recipes with one another making our little recipe boxes grow to bursting. These were the recipes our children would remember as a part of their every day life growing up. Cashew Nut Cookies is one of those recipes I traded for during those years and it became a Christmas tradition at our home. It’s a slightly sweet cookie with an icing that adds just a little more sweetness. Its lack of intense sweetness is probably the primary reason we have enjoyed it for years during the holidays. […]

By | December 21st, 2012|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Cooking|Tags: , |4 Comments

Speaking of Audiobooks: Romance Audio Bests for 2012

It’s once again time to take a look at the previous twelve months of listening and choose my Top Ten romance audios for the year. Over the past two weeks, I’ve relistened to portions of each of these choices, bringing vividly to life the reasons for their inclusion on this list. I recall my excitement and pleasure as I listened to each of these outstanding releases.

I find I’m no longer a purist when it comes to my romance listening. Oh, I still require a thread of romance or the potential (in a continuing series) for such but my favorites no longer have to feature the romance first and foremost. And this year’s Top Ten is evidence of such with books bordering on women’s fiction, paranormal with future romance potential, or fantasy with overtones of romance. […]

By | December 21st, 2012|Categories: audio books, Lea Hensley|Tags: , , , |9 Comments

A Sweet Holiday: Blythe's Angelettis

photoI love to make cookies, and am a big fan of Christmas traditions, so December is a month-long cookie spree for me. There are cookies that I make without fail every year (Russian teacakes, sugar cookies, LinnieGayl’s peanut blossoms, and thumbprint cookies), and some we make every few years. I also like to try a new Christmas recipe every year (usually from the December Good Housekeeping). This year’s new cookie, Christmas macaroons, was a huge, fat failure that we will not be trying again..ever! Angeletti is one of our successes. They look festive (and almost deceptively fancy – they really are easy to make). They are also delicious – they almost taste like tiny donuts. […]

By | December 19th, 2012|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Cooking|Tags: , |2 Comments

TBR Challenge 2012: Holiday Fun!

Wow – we’ve reached the end of TBR Challenge 2012! This month’s theme was holiday romance, so I had no trouble finding a book in my TBR pile to fit it. In the end, I decided I was in the mood for something contemporary, so I went with Harlequin Superromance’s 2010 anthology, That Christmas Feeling. I read the whole book, but it was definitely a mixed bag. Overall, I’d put it in the B-/C+ range.

The first story, A Dundee Christmas by Brenda Novak, was the most unique but also the most problematic. As it opened, I could tell this wasn’t going to be a run-of-the-mill Christmas story and I found myself looking forward to what might unfold. The heroine, Cierra Romero, is a young woman who came to the States from Guatemala on a visa to marry a much older man. […]