So you like romance novels. Have you considered video games?

I see your eyebrow cocked at me, I do. But hear me out?

Once upon a time (namely five years ago) I was a video game skeptic. I did not play them, was intimidated by them, and had no interest in playing them. Then I met this boy who was adorable and lovely and wonderful and I was falling in love with him and he made a request: could I try to play? You see, he had spent much of his professional life working on testing video games and they were a love of his. He wanted me to experience this thing he loved that he was sure I would love and since I kept dragging him to musicals, I really couldn’t deny him.

And reader, the boy was right. I do love them. Not all of them (I can’t be doing with the ones where you have to play with others, like Destiny), but the ones I love, I love hard and usually […]

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:00+00:00 May 8th, 2017|Categories: Kristen D, Romance|9 Comments

Don’t Call Me Honey

Suzanne Brockmann’s Prince Joe was published in 1996, not exactly what we think of as the Dark Ages of feminism. But when I pulled it off my keeper shelf for a reread the other day, I noticed something that drove me absolutely bonkers: nicknaming.

The hero, Joe Catalanotto, is a Navy SEAL who grew up poor in New Jersey but happens to be a dead ringer for the prince of Ustanzia. When a wanted terrorist group tries to assassinate the prince, Joe steps in to impersonate him as bait. Veronica St. John’s job is to teach Joe how to pass as the prince. With just 48 hours until the tour resumes, and with admirals and senators involved and the economy of the prince’s country and the fate of one of America’s Most Wanted on the line, it’s a high stakes impersonation.

And Joe gives Veronica the least […]

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:00+00:00 May 5th, 2017|Categories: Caroline AAR, Characters, Movies|35 Comments

All About the Money: A Guest Post by Santino Hassell

I have a complicated relationship with wealth. Instead of being intrigued by characters who are cool or sexy or likeable because of their money, power, and social status, I love characters who are awesome in spite of it.

For books with wealthy characters or celebrities, my catnip is when they are utterly flawed. Give me a billionaire with a tragic past who has some hang-ups but isn’t a total coldhearted jerk, and you have me. I don’t want to read about what money can do for people. I want to read about what it’s done to people.

That’s the route I tried to go when writing about Ashton Townsend in Concourse, the next standalone novel in the Five Boroughs series. Ashton is the queer son of the wealthy family who runs Townsend Telecom—the AT&T of the Five Boroughs Universe. His stunning androgyny put him on the runway for as long as he […]

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:00+00:00 May 2nd, 2017|Categories: Authors, Guest Posts|Tags: , , |4 Comments

The Neverland of Vermont: A Guest Post by Sonja Yoerg

When I tell people I grew up in Vermont, they often smile dreamily, as if I had claimed Neverland as my home state. In a sense, they are right. My childhood in the small town of Stowe was idyllic in many ways, the summers in particular. My siblings and I spent the long, green hours ranging through the fields, doing cannonballs in the swimming hole and fishing for trout. We sold blackberries by the side of the road and, as the sun finally sank behind the hills, we chased each other in endless, breathless games of tag, racing across grass glittering with fireflies.

But Vermont, in all its serene beauty, has another side. As a young girl, I noticed that Vermonters with French Canadian names (DeCelle, Laferriere, LeMieux, Bouchard) were all Catholic and generally less well-off than the Protestants in our town. My parents were German immigrants and, although Catholic, fell somewhere […]

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:00+00:00 April 30th, 2017|Categories: Authors, Guest Posts|9 Comments

Midweek Minis

In our latest batch of mini reviews, Em, Lisa, Maggie, Maria Rose and Sara share their thoughts on some of their most recent reads:


Em:

Back Piece  by L. A. Witt

This is the story of two men who fall in love despite vastly different backgrounds and life experiences.  Unfortunately, because Ms. Witt has saddled them each with such heavy backstories, it’s mostly sex and angst and very little plot.  Once our principals meet, it’s a bit of a never ending (and unsatisfying) cycle of lust and sex, angst, apologies, lust and sex, angst… you know what I mean.  I liked this couple but the story drags, and the drama gets old – fast.

Colin Spencer is at the gym readying to workout with his trainer when he spots a group of men enter the gym.  One in particular catches his eye, and when he looks […]

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:00+00:00 April 26th, 2017|Categories: EmAAR, Lisa F, Maggie AAR, Maria Rose, Mini reviews, Romance reading, Sara AAR|3 Comments

April TBR Challenge


Under the Lights by Shannon Stacey

Do you like small town romances set in towns that feel like they actually could exist?  If so, you should try reading Shannon Stacey if you haven’t discovered her already. For this month’s multiblog TBR Challenge, I decided to read her 2015 novel, Under the Lights, first in the Boys of Fall series.

When I talk about small towns that feel real, the setup of this book hints at it.  Stewart Mills is not an idyllic little town with financially secure residents shopping in cute, trendy businesses who seemingly do not need to worry about money or deal with commuting to larger cities. In fact, we learn right away that this small New England town has fallen on hard times and may need to cut one of its social staples, the high school football team, if enough money cannot be raised.

Local police officer Kelly McDonnell, the […]

Blame your family! A guest post and a giveaway by Caroline Warfield

Family—can’t live with them, can’t kill them. It seems to me that family is the cradle of our profoundest emotions: love, tenderness, jealousy, anger, envy, and, yes, hate. No one can make us feel as cherished as family. No one can hurt us as badly as family.

Because of that, writers mine family for motivation and internal conflict continually. What is the source of your alpha hero’s angst? Dig into his childhood. Blame his father…or his brother. Why does your heroine believe she is unlovable or incapable? Check out her family of origin. What makes the villain tick? I’m willing to bet it is family or the lack thereof. Heroes and heroines each come from a different family culture. In the end whether it is happily-ever-after or happy-for-now, they are creating a new one. We cheer them on and hope for the best possible future.

After five published novels, […]

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:00+00:00 April 14th, 2017|Categories: Authors, giveaways, Guest Posts|17 Comments

Midweek Minis

Here’s another in our occasional series of mini-reviews.  This time round, Kristen, Lisa and Maria Rose share their thoughts – good and bad – on some of their recent reads.


Kristen:

Playing By Her Rules by Amy Andrews

Y’all, I love me some Amy Andrews books. I especially love her books that involve rugby. This one, the first in her Sydney Smoke series, is about Matilda and Tanner. Once high school sweethearts, the two suffered a traumatic break up when it was time for Matilda to head off to college. Now both back in Australia, Matilda’s been assigned to do a profile on Tanner for her magazine. She’d basically rather perform her own appendectomy with a rusty swiss army knife, but duty calls.

Tanner is a rising star on the Smoke and is a bit of a lad about town. The order to participate in the feature comes from the club’s ownership, and […]

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:00+00:00 April 12th, 2017|Categories: Kristen D, Lisa F, Maria Rose, Mini reviews, Romance reading|Tags: , |5 Comments

Rereading Elizabeth Essex’s Dartmouth Brides

In 2011, I read the first of Elizabeth Essex’s Dartmouth Brides books, The Pursuit of Pleasure. This is Ms. Essex’s debut novel and, especially for a first book, quite good. In my B review I wrote:

I liked James and Lizzie but had a hard time understanding why they made the choices they did. James, in the name of his work, allows Lizzie to suffer tremendously while claiming to love her. Lizzie, bedazzled by sex with James and still hell-bent on being independent, behaves in ways that are at times unsympathetic and flat-out self-destructive. And for all the thinking they do about each other — and Ms. Essex spends a good deal of time relating her characters’ thoughts — neither really sees the other very clearly until, perhaps, the end of the novel. This lack of unambiguous relationship development combined with too little information about their pasts left me feeling unsatisfied. I wanted more […]

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:00+00:00 April 8th, 2017|Categories: Dabney AAR, Re-reading|Tags: , , |1 Comment

A DIKlassic Bookclub: Thumbs up or thumbs down?

As part of our site reboot, we’ve been publishing DIKLassic reviews. These are books that, in the past (at least five years), were DIKs–this means they got an A-, an A, or an A+. I typically pick books that are on sale–I shoot for 3.99 or less for an ebook.

These reviews have been popular and AAR readers often comment on them that they loved being reminded of books they’d forgotten about.

I thought it might be fun to start a bimonthly (every two months) DIKlassic bookclub. We’d suggest a book and then, two months later, chat about it in the comments.

What do you think? And, if you think it’s a good idea, what would you like to read?

 

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:00+00:00 April 6th, 2017|Categories: Dabney AAR, DIK, DIKlassic|35 Comments