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 […]

Chatting with Julie Anne Long

Today we’re talking with Julie Anne Long. Wild at Whiskey Creek, the second book in her contemporary series Hellcat Canyon, releases on the 29th of this month. Here’s the blurb:

Everyone knows the Greenleaf family puts the “Hell” in Hellcat Canyon—legend has it the only way they ever leave is in a cop car or a casket. But Glory Greenleaf has a different getaway vehicle in mind: her guitar. She has a Texas-sized talent and the ambition (and attitude) to match, but only two people have ever believed in her: her brother, who’s in jail, and his best friend . . . who put him there.

Sheriff Eli Barlow has secretly been in love with Glory since he was twelve years old. Which is how he knows her head is as hard as her heart is soft—and why she can’t forgive him for fracturing her family . . . or forget that night they surrendered […]

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 […]

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:11+00:00 April 21st, 2016|Categories: Haley AAR|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on A sneak peak at Katee Robert's The Wedding Pact

TBR Challenge: Modern Love

bestworst It’s always a bit of a scramble for me to find a contemporary romance for this prompt, because I don’t read them very often and don’t own many. And I like to choose my challenge books from books I already have, as buying something new rather defeats the object of the exercise! Fortunately, I found Sarah Mayberry’s Her Best Worst Mistake among my Kindle books; I know she’s a popular and highly-rated author, so that was it, job done and choice made.

The story is pretty much a classic enemies-to-lovers one, which is a trope I enjoy when it’s done well – and that’s certainly the case here. But even in a relatively small page count (170 pages), the author has done more than simply write a couple that gripes, snipes and then falls into bed with each other; she’s fleshed out both protagonists in such a way that it’s easy to see why these two people who, at first […]

There’s No Place Like Home: A Guest post by Virginia Kantra (plus a giveaway)

Reading (or writing) a small town series is like going on a family vacation. You know how you load into the car, going back to the same spot year after year? It’s a getaway where you kind of know what you’re getting into: same beautiful setting, same favorite spots, at least a few familiar faces. Happy memories. An almost-guaranteed good time.

The thing is, you don’t want to settle for doing the same thing all the time.

When my husband and I were first married, I dragged the poor guy to New England every summer to spend a week with my family. Because what could be more romantic than vacationing with the in-laws on Cape Cod, where the water reaches a balmy 56 degrees in July?

My husband was game, but he didn’t really get the appeal. His dad, a career Sergeant Major stationed at Camp Lejeune, used to take him fishing on the North Carolina coast. After several years of freezing his, um, […]

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:12+00:00 February 3rd, 2016|Categories: Authors, Guest Posts|Tags: , |47 Comments

Writing Communities: A Guest Post and a Giveaway from Jennifer Lohmann

One of the things I like in a good contemporary romance is how real the characters feel. In a contemporary, the setting is familiar and the technology and manners and culture are all familiar, so I can sink into the characters and the story. Everything about the book feels like it could be happening down the street from me. It’s this quality that pulled me into Harlequin Superromances to begin with and it’s something I strive for in my novels.

The trick is to make a setting feel like it could be happening next door to me and next door to you and next door to a reader halfway around the world while still making the book feel like it’s set in a real place, rather than a generic Every Town. The realness of the setting helps the characters shine. A setting that feels fake can make the characters feel […]

TBR Challenge: Modern Love

longsimmeringspringFor April’s TBR Challenge read, I dove into one of my RWA book boxes in search of a contemporary, and came up with Elisabeth Barrett’s Long Simmering Spring. This novel is a 2013 Loveswept that simmered quite a while, but never did come to a boil. For the first time in a long while, I found myself with a DNF on my hands.

Haunted by memories from the war in Afghanistan, Cole Grayson is now home in Star Harbor. Star Harbor is a small New England town, so guess who’s the sheriff?  That’s right – Cole has his demons to wrestle but he’s been cleared for law enforcement duty. To be fair, Cole’s brothers also have books in this series and they can’t all be the sheriff, so if you read more by Barrett, you’ll get some non-sheriff, small town romance.

Once back in Star Harbor, Cole finds himself face to face with a memory from high school – Julie Kensington. Julie […]

Sarah Morgan’s Maybe This Christmas: a Pandora’s Box

Sarah Morgan’s Maybe This Christmas is the third in her O’Neil Brothers series. The first two (Sleigh Bells in the Snow and Suddenly Last Summer) received a B+ and an A- here at AAR. Today Dabney and Haley discuss the novel. […]

By | 2017-07-20T10:47:33+00:00 October 22nd, 2014|Categories: Book news, Dabney AAR, Haley AAR, Pandora's Box|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on Sarah Morgan’s Maybe This Christmas: a Pandora’s Box

It’s a Lucky Harbor Day: We’ve got Jill Shalvis and a Giveaway!

JillShalvisMany a romance reader knows Lucky Harbor, the fictional town where Jill Shalvis has set (thus far) nine novels. All good things must come to an end, however, and Ms. Shalivs has penned the last three love stories she plans to set there. The first of these, It’s In His Kiss, was released yesterday.

We are happy to have Jill here today. Not only is she answering questions, and sharing an excerpt, she’s giving away a Lucky Harbor novel of your choice to three AAR readers. To be entered in the drawing, just leave a comment below.

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By | 2017-06-23T08:30:26+00:00 August 27th, 2014|Categories: Authors, Dabney AAR, Interviews|Tags: , , |128 Comments

An Interview with Alexis Hall

glitterland Alexis Hall has just released his debut novel, Glitterland, to wide acclaim. It’s a four and a half star read on Goodreads. Library Journal gave it a starred review and deemed it “Highly recommended.” Alexis and I are Twitter pals so I asked him if he’d be willing to be interviewed for AAR. He said yes. I sent him my questions and, though he was on vacation and typing on his phone, he sent me the following resplendent replies.

1) I’ve rarely read a romance with such polar opposite leads. Both men fascinated me. Can you tell me a bit about how you came up with Darian and Ash? Who came first? 

It’s pretty straightforward actually: Darian came first. Last year, there was a contestant on the UK X Factor called Rylan Clark who was this, well, sparkling glitter pirate of a man. Obviously Darian isn’t Rylan Clark, because that would be deeply weird, but he was a strong inspiration for the character. The thing […]