Midweek Minis

AAR staffers are avid readers – Caroline, Dabney, Emily, LinnieGayl, Maria Rose and Sara are here to share their thoughts on some of their recent reads.

Caroline’s Read:

Almost a Scandal by Elizabeth Essex

Sally Kent’s brother Richard lets the family tradition down when instead of joining the Navy, he escapes to the clergy. So it’s Sally, who’s got the family saltwater blood, who dons midshipman’s blues and sets sail on the Audacious just before Trafalgar. She finds herself under the supervision of Lieutenant David Colyear, an outstanding officer and old friend of her brothers.

I adore competent, intelligent heroines, Sally’s natural bent for the sea is developed in a way that is completely convincing without seeming over the top. From her love of the wind and water to her ability to manage onboard rivalries, she’s a sailor to the tips of her fingers. I believed completely that if she’d been born today, she’d be […]

By | February 8th, 2017|Categories: Caroline AAR, Dabney AAR, EmAAR, LinnieGayl AAR, Maria Rose, Mini reviews, Romance reading, Sara AAR|Tags: |7 Comments

The Best of 2016: LinnieGayl’s List

When 2016 started I was in the midst of a nearly three-year long reading slump, and close to quitting as a reviewer here. For the first time this lifelong reader struggled to start any books, let alone finish them.  Instead of eagerly looking forward to squeezing in reading whenever possible, I could go days on end without reading anything. Fortunately, I’ve broken out of the slump and have so far read 114 books this year, including a number of DIKs. I primarily broke out of the slump by reading a variety of genres in both fiction and non-fiction, always simultaneously working on at least three books. But while some of the non-fiction proved interesting, none broke into my Top Ten of the year. My best reads of 2016 are primarily contemporary romances, and are dominated by Sarah Morgan; and also includes a couple of historical mysteries, and a steampunk. My favorites, in no particular order, are:


By | January 4th, 2017|Categories: Best of 2016, Best of Romance, LinnieGayl AAR|12 Comments

Midweek minis

AAR staffers Kristen, LinnieGayl, Maria Rose, Dabney, and Sara have been hard at work reading and reviewing even more books! Here are their thoughts on some of their most recent reads in another of our occasional series of mini reviews.

Kristen’s Reads:

Semi-Scripted by Amanda Heger

Marisol Gutierrez travels to the U.S. to pitch their nonprofit at a grant conference. The competition is stiff, Marisol is not usually the organization’s spokesperson, and she is especially nervous to do it all in her second language of English, but has stepped in at the last minute and is determined to do well. The future of the organisation depends on getting this grant and the pressure overwhelms Marisol, stealing her of her usual joy and plunging her into a permanent state of panic.

Since she’s in L.A. a few days before she has to begin the conference, she decides to try to attend a taping of her […]

By | November 9th, 2016|Categories: Dabney AAR, Kristen D, LinnieGayl AAR, Maria Rose, Mini reviews, Romance, Romance reading, Sara AAR|5 Comments

Publishing FIVE revised Special Title Lists

A long time ago in a far-off galaxy … you nominated some books for five of AAR’s Special Titles Listings. And then … nothing. Several months of nothing, and then more than a year. We apologize most sincerely. But – we are glad to announce that finally the revised versions of Scots & Irish Romances, Teachers and Governesses, Villains, Beta Heroes, and Favorite Funnies are online.

The main reasons for this delay are two: Last year, all of us who work on the Special Titles Listings were struck with a hefty dose of real life. Nothing bad, but a lot of stuff that was extremely time-consuming. So with a sigh, we put aside our work on the list. And then came the period during which material was being prepared for the new site. We felt we’d prefer to publish the revised lists at a point when the new site was already launched.

Anyway, here are the new lists, which we hope you’ll enjoy. […]

By | August 16th, 2016|Categories: LinnieGayl AAR, Rike AAR, Special Titles Lists|10 Comments

Midweek Minis – RITA nominees Part One

tmkcpfqvIn advance of RWA 2016 next week and the announcement of the winners of the RITAs,  the AAR team has taken a look at some of this year’s nominees.  The full list of nominated titles can be found here.  Have you read many on this year’s list?  And if you’ve read the same listed books as we have, what did you think?

Our mini reviews cover titles listed in the contemporary, erotic, historical, paranormal and romantic suspense categories, and are spread across two posts.  Today, Maria Rose, Sara, Heather,  BJ and LinnieGayl take a look at the various contemporary romance nominees; the others will be covered in our second post tomorrow. […]

By | July 6th, 2016|Categories: BJ Jansen, Caz AAR, Heather AAR, LinnieGayl AAR, Maria Rose, Mini reviews, RWA|Tags: , |7 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 Roundtable Discussion on Lost Among the Living

Today, AAR Reviewers Maggie, Caz, Mary, Linniegayl and Melanie have AAR’s first ever Round Table Discussion. The book chosen is Simone St. James Lost Among the Living. Ms. St. James is a popular author with AAR staff having made several Top Ten lists in 2015 as well as having two DIK reviews on our site. Lost Among the Living is her most recent release and one that has been eagerly anticipated by many. […]

Annual Poll Update: It’s a Runoff!

When AAR conducted its first Annual Reader Poll for the best in romances published in 1996 things were a lot different on the web. AAR was one of the few online sites devoted to romance readers’ views, and one of the only sites to offer reviews written by readers. Facebook was limited, there was no Twitter, there were no blogs devoted to romance, there was no goodreads, Amazon was in its infancy, there were no eBooks, and romance authors had yet to take to the web in full force. All of this limited the information – the buzz – available to romance readers, meaning the readers who voted in the first AAR Annual polls were exposed to a more limited set of romances. My how times have changed.

Over the past few years as we’ve tallied the votes in the Annual Reader polls we’ve noticed more and more books nominated in each category, often making it difficult to name a “winner.” Many readers have expressed problems filling out their ballots over the […]

By | February 24th, 2016|Categories: Annual Reader Poll, LinnieGayl AAR, Polls|24 Comments

The Best of 2015: LinnieGayl’s List

I’m finally coming out of a nearly two-year reading slump, but to do it I had to read a lot of old favorites (Julie James, Lauren Willig, Karen Templeton, Sarah Mayberry to name just a few) and also a good many mysteries and non-fiction works. This means that the number of romances first published in 2015 that I read was somewhat limited, but amongst those, my favorites are as follows:

Rise by Karina Bliss: I’ve raved about this book both in a Pandora’s Box and a DIK review. It’s my favorite romance of 2015 and also my favorite contemporary romance. In this follow-up to What the Librarian Did, Ms. Bliss manages to turn Zander Freedman from a despicable man into a thoroughly engaging, and intriguing hero. In the intelligent Elizabeth Winston, she produced the perfect heroine for Zander; together, the two stimulate each other’s […]

By | February 15th, 2016|Categories: Best of 2015, Best of List, Best of Romance, LinnieGayl AAR|19 Comments

The AAR Annual Readers’ Poll

The annual AAR Reader Poll is open!

We’re pleased to announce, for the 20th year in a row, the AAR Annual Reader Poll is now open! We hope you will help us take a look back to find the best romance books the year 2015 had to offer.

The AAR Annual Reader Poll began with the best romances of 1996, and ever since then, readers have used the poll results to guide them to some of the best romances published in the past year. But for the poll to be helpful, and truly represent as many AAR readers as possible, we need you to vote! Many readers use various guides to fill out their ballots. Some AAR readers keep spreadsheets of their reading year, while others utilize such online sites as Goodreads for their records, making it relatively easy to fill out a ballot. If you haven’t kept a spreadsheet or reading chart (and there are just as many readers who don’t), you can use the Power Search function […]

By | January 18th, 2016|Categories: Annual Reader Poll, Lee AAR, LinnieGayl AAR, Polls|19 Comments