November TBR Challenge – A Recommended Read

Crystal Caress by Zuri Day

For some reason, the “recommended read” prompt for the TBR Challenge always gets me tied up in knots. I think that’s because it doesn’t fit in very well with how my books are (not all that) organized. Since I was talking recently on Twitter about my trip to RWA in New York several years ago, I remembered that I had several books in what was left of my RWA crate that had been recommended to me by others. One of them, Crystal Caress by Zuri Day, was passed to me by an excited conference attendee who had just finished reading it. This was my first time reading this author and I definitely enjoyed myself.

The heroine, Teresa Drake, comes from a prominent African-American family in California. While her family is in the wine business, Teresa has carved out a different path for herself. Even though […]

October TBR Challenge – Paranormals versus Suspense

October’s TBR Challenge prompt was to read either a Romantic Suspense or Paranormal Romance: AAR reviewers  Lynn Spencer and Caz Owens went for one of each.


Northern Lights by Nora Roberts

I’ve been a reader of romantic suspense for as long as I’ve been reading romance, so when I saw the prompt this month, I immediately decided I was going to go the suspense route rather than paranormal. Even though I’ve read a ton of suspense, both romantic and otherwise, I’ve somehow only scratched the surface of Nora Roberts’ giant romantic suspense backlist. This time around, I decided to read her 600+ page doorstopper of a book, Northern Lights.

Originally released in 2004, this novel details the adventures of an almost-but-not-quite washed up Baltimore cop turned rural Alaska police chief. His new post involves keeping order in the tiny town of Lunacy, with only 2 deputies to help him. It’s […]

August TBR Challenge – Kickin’ it Old School

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

Usually when it’s old school book month at the TBR Challenge, I go waay back in time on my choices. However, as I picked through my TBR, I was astounded to realize that I had somehow missed reading the début novel from an author whose subsequent books I’ve greatly enjoyed.  So – this time around we’re going back just ten years in time to Deanna Raybourn’s December 2006 novel Silent in the Grave.

This is the book that introduced readers to Lady Julia Grey. While it has its romantic moments, I wouldn’t say it’s strictly romance. It’s more a historical mystery with strong romantic elements – and rather a good one. The book opens as Lady Julia becomes a widow following events that at the time appeared to be natural, though tragic, circumstances. Fast forward a year later and we see Lady Julia […]

By | 2017-08-15T21:27:00+00:00 August 16th, 2017|Categories: Caz AAR, Lynn Spencer, Romance reading, TBR Challenge|11 Comments

July TBR Challenge – Catch Up on a Series (or Not)

For this month’s challenge, we were called upon to pick a book from a series we’re behind on. One of us followed instructions and the other? Well, we at least tried to stay in the spirit of things.

Again My Lord by Katharine Ashe

I had a bit of a struggle to find a book to suit this month’s prompt to read a book in a series I’m behind on, because I’m pretty much caught up with all the ones I’m currently following.  There are some I haven’t started yet, but I wanted to try to stick to the prompt and finally, I came up with Again, My Lord, the second book in Katharine Ashe’s Twist series.  In the two books in the series so far, she’s taken a couple of well-known movie plots as her starting points and adapted them into historical romances which, while certainly out of the […]

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

Instructions

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)