The Best of 2016: Haley’s List

2016 felt like a year in which I didn’t do a lot of reading. I hit my Goodreads goal of 80 books, and passed it by some, but that pales in comparison to the 150 books I read in 2013, for example. I was also a total slacker in the reviewing game, so you may not have seen my name around a lot. As it turns out, working full time and trying to finish my second Master’s Degree ate up all of the time that I used to spend on leisure and review reading. However, I like to think that having to be choosier with my reading time meant that I made stronger choices in 2016, although I think it limited my variety. […]

By | January 7th, 2017|Categories: Best of 2016, Best of List, Haley AAR|5 Comments

An interview with Cara McKenna

ddHaley: Firstly, thank you again for taking the time out to do an interview. I read Downtown Devil and I wanted to let you know I loved it. I’ve read quite a few ménage books over the years and I think this is the first time I have seen one where there is passion between the two men, rather than it being two men essentially competing for the woman. What made you decide to have that intimacy between Mica and Vaughn?

Cara: Purely because I wanted to write full-on, no-holds-barred male/male sex again, in the context of a m/m/f ménage. It’s been a while. You get a little taste of m/m in Crosstown Crush, but you’re right, in that one there’s a definite streak of competition tempering the men’s contact…and an essential one, in that story, as competition feeds directly into the kink. But in the new book I wanted two men with history that predates the arrival of the heroine, and a genuine attraction all their own, albeit a fraught and complex one. I mean, Vaughn’s essentially straight, or at least self-identifies as straight. I loved exploring and exploiting the tension that’s built in when one lover is resistant and conflicted and the other’s completely shameless. I like the conflict and discomfort that come out of that imbalance, and I hope it makes for some charged sex scenes. I’m always drawn to uglier emotions, like distrust and even resentment, whatever that says about me. I like that Vaughn trusts Mica with his life, literally (when they’re climbing together), but not in any other capacity. […]

By | June 29th, 2016|Categories: Authors, Haley AAR, Interviews|Tags: , , |10 Comments

Alex Markov: Dreamboat or Douchebag?

In another of our occasional series in which we discuss the merits – or lack thereof – of fictional heroes and heroines, AAR staffers turn their attention to Alex Markov of Kiss an Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

The book taps into the classic “arranged marriage” trope. The two protagonists, Daisy and Alex, are blackmailed into marriage by a third party: Daisy’s dad. Daisy agrees in order to avert legal trouble and avoid prison. For Alex Markov, this was his year for paying off big debts, first with his deathbed promise to Owen Quest to take the circus out for its last season under the Quest name, and then by agreeing to marry Max’s daughter. In all these years Max had never asked one thing of him as repayment for having saved Alex’s life, but when he’d finally gotten around to it, he’d asked for a doozy. […]

A sneak peak at Katee Robert's The Wedding Pact

Our reviewer Haley enjoyed the first book in Katee Robert’s O’Malleys series, The Marriage Contract (her review is here). The second one, The Wedding Pact, comes out next week.  Ms. Robert’s kind publicist gave us this sneak peak excerpt.

Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

 

Carrigan O’Malley has always known her arranged marriage would be more about power and prestige than passion. But after one taste of the hard-bodied, whiskey-voiced James Halloran, she’s ruined for anyone else. Too bad James and his family are enemy number 1. 

Hallorans vs. O’Malleys-that’s how it’s always been. James should be thinking more about how to expand his family’s empire instead of how silky Carrigan’s skin is against his and how he can next get her into his bed. Those are dangerous thoughts. But not nearly as dangerous as he’ll be if he can’t get what he wants: Carrigan by his side for the rest of their lives.

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By | April 21st, 2016|Categories: Haley AAR|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Love Poems We Love

In honor of April being National Poetry Month, I asked some of the AAR staffers to share their favorite romantic poetry. As it turns out, our staff shares a love of poems, both classic and contemporary. There were so many excellent suggestions that I can’t include them all, so there are links to even more. If you would like to celebrate National Poetry Month with a bit of romance, here are some of their picks.


 

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By | April 11th, 2016|Categories: Haley AAR|Tags: , |4 Comments

Very Short Love Stories: #5WordRomanceNovel

Earlier this week, the Twitter hashtag #5WordRomanceNovel was trending. People took to the social media platform to try their hand at micro storytelling. The results were both sweet, funny, dirty, or downright self-promotion as many companies used the trend to push their brand. Such an abbreviated formatted let me see how different Twitter users viewed romance. There were famous quotes from literature, plenty of talk about men doing housework, and an overwhelming love of pizza. I collected just a handful of tweets from this trend that I enjoyed.

Let’s get the pizza love out of the way first.

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By | April 8th, 2016|Categories: Contests, Haley AAR|Tags: , |3 Comments

From Books to Burton

Two books are making their way from page to screen via Tim Burton productions in the coming months. On May 27 Alice Through the Looking Glass brings viewers a sequel to the 2010 Alice in Wonderland and what appears to be a very loose, really barely related, version of Lewis Carroll’s classic Through the Looking-Glass.  Burton is not directing Looking Glass but, from the previews (which can be seen here), it appears that the film continues his dark and fantastical style. […]

By | April 6th, 2016|Categories: Haley AAR, Maggie AAR, Movies|Tags: , , |3 Comments

Taboo for Teens

 


Readers of adult romances are likely used to seeing sex scenes in novels. While the genre ranges from chaste to naughty, the average contemporary romance will likely contain some amount of sexuality. When I made the switch from reading almost exclusively romance to a mix of romance and Young Adult, I couldn’t help but notice the stark difference in the approach to sexuality.

Now, that isn’t to say that books for teens should have long explicit sex scenes, like you’d find in adult erotica or the like, but it struck me as a bit odd that sex seemed to be so taboo for these fictional teens. I think that the Twilight is a good example, albeit very outdated at this point, because so many are familiar with the story. In the books, Bella is actively interested in furthering her and Edwards’s romantic encounters, and he is the one that holds back. There’s the issue that he might freak out and drink her blood that dampens the mood some, but he also wants to hold off and make it special. […]

By | April 3rd, 2016|Categories: Haley AAR|Tags: , , , , |14 Comments

Court of Thorns and Roses: A Pandora’s Box

Dabney: Haley picked Sarah Maas’s Court of Thorns and Roses for her best Romance Novel of 2015. Here’s what she said about the book:

This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, or perhaps East of the Sun West of the Moon, set in a world where humans live precariously alongside dangerous fae. The world that Maas has built is anything but Happily Ever After. Feyre’s family is on the brink of starvation and poor when she kills what she thinks is a wolf in the woods. That wolf was actually a fae in disguise, and as retribution, Feyre must go live with the High Lord of the Spring Court. The best […]

By | February 10th, 2016|Categories: Dabney AAR, Haley AAR, Pandora's Box|Tags: , |3 Comments

The Best of 2015: Audiobooks We Loved

Haley’s Top Listens in 2015

Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling

I’m a fan of Mindy Kaling and have been since she was on The Office. While I didn’t like Why Not Me? As much as her first book, I did enjoy her playful narration and funny anecdotes. I, like many women, really relate to how down-to-earth Kaling seems and that comes through in this book, especially in the chapter about how much work and money goes into making Hollywood stars beautiful. This is a great, quick, lighthearted listen.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari