threeriverranch Once again, I’m participating in the multi-blog TBR Challenge but this year we’re doing things a little differently here on the blog as a couple of my fellow AAR reviewers are working on reading challenges, too. So, each month we’ll all be talking reading challenges and if there are any challenges you want to hop onto for yourself, you’ll find links down at the bottom.

My challenge for the month was to read something short – a category novel or a novella or short story. I tend to buy plenty of category romance so this was no problem for me. When Entangled launched, I had purchased several books from their various category lines to try and a few were still sitting unread on the Kindle, so this time around I decided to try Three River Ranch by Roxanne Snopek. Three River Ranch is a 2012 release from the Bliss line, a line that seems to feature American settings, strong family/home/community themes and fairly low-level sensuality. I have a feeling this line would appeal to readers of Harlequin American Romance or Special Edition.

The set-up of this book is pretty contrived, but it’s basically okay even if things do get cheesy on occasion, and I’d give it a C. Aurora (Rory) McAllister has come to the small town of Chinook, Montana from Billings in search of a new start. She rents a ranch guesthouse, sight unseen, and prepares to settle in. She’s expecting a baby, her fiance has reacted to impending fatherhood by dumping her, but at least a friend and midwife whom she trusts lives in town.

Perhaps this would work, if it weren’t for the fact that Carson Granger, son of the ranch’s previous owner, never planned to rent out his inheritance. However, Carson has complications of his own. He can’t touch his inheritance unless he gets married or restores the property to being a working ranch. Carson lives to rescue wild mustangs from those who would hunt them as pests, and his dream for Three River Ranch is to turn it into a wild horse sanctuary, not a ranch. Not surprisingly, Carson and Rory decide to join forces and work together and as they stay out at the ranch together, it all starts to turn into more of a relationship. After all, there is that whole issue with Carson being unable to touch his inheritance without a wife (sigh).

Carson and Rory are likable together and I enjoyed their dialogue, which is probably what saved this book for me. Otherwise, I think the matchmaking small town residents, cutesy dog antics and Rory’s Special Snowflake horse intuition would have sent me over the edge. However, I will give the author credit for taking some plot elements that usually drive me up a wall and making them far more palatable than usual.

– Lynn Spencer
My reading challenge this year got off to a different kind of start. Rather than concentrating on one challenge and pounding my way through it, I’ve been simultaneously working on The Geography Challenge and The Alphabet Challenge (variation), two of several challenges to choose from on the AAR message boards. So far I’ve read a total of eight books, four for each challenge. I’ve had a fortunate start in that at least half the books were A or B reads for me. Topping the list is Lisa Gardner’s Fear Nothing. Part police procedural, part thriller, Fear Nothing follows Detective D.D. Warren as she pursues a serial killer with a surprising motive – and a surprising link to her personally. D.D. and Alex have only been married a short time and watching him care for her through her injury, as well as work through the crime with her gave this book strong but subtle romantic elements.

My other favorites belong to the YA series At Somerton. Cinders and Sapphires and Diamonds and Deceit by Leila Rasheed introduce us to the daughters of the Earl of Westlake as they make their bows to the queen and launch into society – and fall in love. The writing resembles the best of Julian Fellowes’ work and captures beautifully the swan song of the golden ages of the English Aristocracy.

– Maggie Boyd


I’m a pretty voracious reader, so I don’t need the metaphorical kick up the backside of a reading challenge to get me reading. But I do like the fact that the a challenge helps me to focus more on what I’m reading, and can provide inspiration when I’m not sure what I want to read next. I also set myself extra criteria, which is that as many of the books as possible should have been in my TBR for over a year, AND that at least half of them should come from the huge pile of second-hand paperbacks sitting by my bed. Because of my reviewing commitments here and elsewhere, I obviously get to read and review a lot of advance copies of new titles, so I try not to use them towards my challenge quota, unless it’s a book I’d have read regardless of whether I had to write a review or not.

I’ve signed up for a couple of challenges this year, including AAR’s very own Back to School challenge. I’m going to do the “Days of the Week” variation, for which I need to read two books in each of seven categories that relates to (surprise!) days of the week. I’m still getting my list together, but my first books will be related to Sunday, for which the challenge criteria are:

– Read a book that is the first in a series

– Read a book that has in its title the word “Sunday”, “Sun”, “light”, “shine”, “hot, “star” or “day”, or any variation of these words, or a word you think might have a similar connotation – Read a book that is set in the summer or is set on a “sunny” place – the beach, a desert, a Mediterranean country, etc – Read a book where the hero or heroine is an astronomer, astrologist, astronaut, or is a “star” (e.g., a movie star, a famous athlete, etc..)

From the “by the bed pile”, I’m choosing Fair Shine the Day by Sylvia Thorpe, which I believe is the first of a series of novels set during the English Civil War.

And from my main TBR list, I’m choosing Sherry Thomas’ The Luckiest Lady in London for the astronomy connection.

I know I don’t necessarily have to do the days in order, so I might be mixing it up a bit later, but one of the books relating to Monday will be a gothic – probably another book from my paperback pile – Lost Ladies of the Windswept Moor by Beverley C. Craven.

I’m off to a bit of a slow start, I know – it’s mid January and I haven’t picked up the first book yet, but I’ll be getting to it soon – I promise!

– Caz Owens

Want to try a reading challenge yourself? Here’s where to find them:

TBR Challenge 2014

The 2014 Back to School Challenges