June TBR Challenge – Pick Your Favorite Trope

A Rumored Engagement by Lily George

I’m a sucker for second-chance-at-love stories. I have autobuy authors I love and certain settings catch my eye, but when I’m taking a chance on a new author, favorite plotlines will often call my name. And second chance stories are definitely near the top of my list, with friends-to-lovers being a close second. For favorite tropes month on the TBR Challenge, I read A Rumored Engagement, a 2014 historical from Lily George. Though published as part of the Love Inspired Historical line, I suspect fans of Regency trads might like this one as well.

As the story opens, Susannah Siddons and her sisters prepare to open a millinery shop in the village of Tansley. Upon arrival, they run into a mishap with their door and when a man from the past comes to their rescue, we quickly learn about Susannah’s long-forgotten engagement to Daniel Hale of […]

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 […]

Inspirational Romance: A Roundtable Discussion

Welcome to the AAR Roundtable Discussion on Inspirational Romance novels!

According to RWA these books make up 17% of print sales and 14% of e-book sales of all romance novels sold annually. Reviewers Maggie Boyd, Kristen Donnelly, Lynn Spencer and Caz Owens talk about their first experiences reading Inspirationals–often called Inspys– what draws them to this particular type of book, and how they see the stories overall.

Maggie: When I needed to find a sub-genre I typically didn’t read for a reading challenge back in 2009 I determined to suck it up and read three Inspirational books to complete the challenge. I’d had some bad experiences with a few Inspy novels before so I wasn’t expecting to enjoy them much. I was stunned. Deeanne Gist, Cathy Marie Hake and Lynn Austin penned books I completely loved. I began to expand into more authors and found that the Inspirational market of the last few decades was actually rich with fantastic authors, beautiful stories, and fabulous settings. About a third of the books I read are Inspirationals […]

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:05+00:00 October 29th, 2016|Categories: Books, Caz AAR, Kristen D, Lynn Spencer, Maggie AAR, Roundtable|Tags: |11 Comments

Eagerly Awaited November Books

someonetolove In looking over the list of November releases (already?!), one thing stands out – HISTORICALS.  Seriously, this looks like a big historical release month.  Favorites such as Mary Balogh, Elizabeth Hoyt, Sabrina Jeffries and Meredith Duran all have new releases. There are still plenty of contemporaries and other subgenres to go around, but if you’re looking to curl up and go on a trip through time this Thanksgiving, you’ve got options.

Someone to Love by Mary Balogh

A new book from this perennially popular author is always an event worthy of a note in my diary, and I’m intrigued by the prospect of a hero who is a bit of a departure from the norm – Caz

The brilliant Ms. Balogh has a new book out in a new series! That’s all I need to know about it before I pick it up. – Keira

This is being described as ‘typical Balogh’ and I can only imagine that’s a good thing! Anna Snow learns she’s […]

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:05+00:00 October 23rd, 2016|Categories: All About Romance, Eagerly Awaiting, Lynn AAR, Lynn Spencer|15 Comments

Summer Recipes: Amy's Fried Green Tomatoes

IMG_1346 (1280x853) Fried green tomatoes have been a favorite summer treat of mine since I was small. I learned how to make them from my grandmother and like pretty much everyone I know, I have my own particular way of making them. Some folks bread theirs only with flour, others mix in cornmeal and still others use breadcrumbs or panko. And then there are the spice mixtures and dipping sauces!

Personally, I lean toward simpler ways of making these. I’ve enjoyed the heavily breaded panko versions in trendy restaurants but the fried green tomatoes you get out of my kitchen are much more traditional (and easy to make!), and this is how it’s done:

You’ll need

1 green tomato
white cornmeal*
1 egg
milk or buttermilk (optional)
cajun-style seasoning (optional)
cooking oil (peanut is traditional but many use vegetable oil due to allergies)


1. Slice up the green tomato. Don’t slice too thin or the tomato will fall apart a bit in frying.

2. On a plate, mix your […]

Earworm of the Day – I Could Be Nothing (Great Lake Swimmers)

“Hauntingly beautiful” and “banjo music” are not phrases that normally go together in my mind, but for this song by the Great Lake Swimmers, they truly do. The music, the imagery, all of it lingers in the mind long after the last note dies. Enjoy!

– Lynn Spencer

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:51+00:00 February 14th, 2013|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Lynn Spencer, Music|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on Earworm of the Day – I Could Be Nothing (Great Lake Swimmers)

Earworm of the Day – Dance Me to the End of Love (The Civil Wars)

It seems like the songs which get stuck in my head rank among the world’s most annoying. So, when something as hauntingly gorgeous as this rendition of Dance Me to the End of Love lodges itself in my brain, I just have to share. I’ve heard other versions of this song, but I think I’m liking The Civil Wars’ take on it the best. Enjoy!

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:51+00:00 February 6th, 2013|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Lynn Spencer, Music|Tags: , , |3 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 | 2017-06-23T08:30:54+00:00 December 24th, 2012|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Cooking, Lynn Spencer|Tags: , , |5 Comments


blackberries For the past month, I’ve been getting the most wonderful blackberries at the farmers’ market. Supermarket blackberries aren’t bad, but these are sweeter and more flavorful. I’ve been gorging myself on berries and we’ve had so many that I’ve been trying to find new things to do with them. One can add them to salads and there’s the obvious blackberry cobbler, but I’ve been looking for new recipes. I’ve found some online, but one of my new favorites was given to me by a friend.

It’s a recipe for blackberry syrup and it’s delicious over pancakes, and even better over ice cream. I haven’t been able to find a printed version of this one, but I believe it may have been adapted from something in a back issue of Southern Living. Here’s how it works:


By | 2017-06-23T08:31:49+00:00 July 9th, 2010|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Cooking, Lynn Spencer|Tags: , |3 Comments

Sometimes You Just Have to Laugh

laughter It’s been a wild summer at work, so I’m starting to get a little punchy. And when I’m punchy, I’m also pretty easily amused. Since laughter’s a good stress reliever, it’s a great combination. I doubt I’m the only one under pressure, so here are some funny tidbits I found and just had to share.

This first is a hilarious column on wine selection and drinking that one of my college friends sent me. Enjoy!

This second tidbit has been around for quite a while, but it still cracks me up. If you search music videos for the “literal version” on YouTube, you’ll find many of these. However, this video for Total Eclipse of the Heart is still the best!

Happy Hump Day! The weekend is in sight!

-Lynn Spencer

By | 2017-06-23T08:31:50+00:00 June 16th, 2010|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Lynn Spencer, Music, Real Life, Uncategorized|Tags: |4 Comments