The Best of 2017 – Caroline’s List

Best-of lists are always hard for me because I don’t read tons of new books. This is actually the first year I’ve had enough reads of the year to have any kind of meaningful list of “best books of the year.”


The Love Experiment by Ainslie Paton

My top read of the year was a funny, realistic, honest, sexy, and deftly written contemp about two Chicago journalists falling in love while pursuing their careers. I’ve called it a hybrid of The Hating Game and a Julie James novel, and I hope that convinces more people to give this less well-known author and e-only release a try. I just loved it.

Buy Now: A/BN/iB/K


By | 2018-01-18T21:57:33+00:00 January 20th, 2018|Categories: Best of List, Caroline AAR, Romance reading|Tags: |10 Comments

Reading Resolutions for 2018

AAR staff have been making plans to be their best reading selves in 2018. Here are some of our reading resolutions:


Caroline: My resolution is to reread books that have been on my keeper shelf without a reread for four years (that’s the easiest time for me to calculate since it’s when I moved). I find a lot of books I’ve had for that long aren’t holding up, and I need to get rid of them to free up space. I also resolve to get rid of my pile of Regency Christmas anthologies that I’m keeping just for the one Carla Kelly story and replace it with the Kelly collection that has all of those stories in it.


Keira: I resolve to continue my detailed Spreadsheet of Joy, wherein I maintain all kinds of data about every book I read. I have been spreadsheeting my reading since 2013, and I also blog about an in-depth analysis of that data […]

Romancing it Royally – Some of our favourite Royal Romances

With the recent engagement of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle, royal romance is on our minds. Here are some of AAR’s favorite royal stories, real and fictional, for anybody else in the mood.


Caz: One of the things that made the books that make up Lilah Pace’s His Royal Secret/His Royal Favorite duology such great reads is that the author chose to set her story in a Britain I was able to easily recognise as the one in which I live while at the same time creating a very believable ‘alternate’ Royal Family. (There’s none of that carving off bits of Scotland and giving them names that sound like supermarket chains or making the Isle of Man into a separate country!) In Ms. Pace’s version of Britain, the House of Hanover […]

Maybe, Baby…

 

why yes that is red lipstick on me… and on the white carpet in our rented beach house….


Babies are often romanticized (so to speak) in romances, which tend to focus on pregnancy and only show us infants in glowing sunlit epilogues or cheerful cameos in sequels which focus on family and friends. It’s a rare book that throws you into the teeth of sleepless, unshowered, spit-up-encrusted life with a newborn – probably because, let’s be real, it’s hard to have enough energy for the relationships you have, let alone a new one.

Oddly enough, the most realistic portrayal of an infant I’ve read in a romance is in a young adult book, The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick.

By | 2017-11-12T22:01:39+00:00 November 12th, 2017|Categories: Caroline AAR, Romance reading|16 Comments

Coming Soon… October 2017

It’s time once again to look ahead to the books we’re looking forward to getting stuck into next month, and as the nights are drawing in, I’m sure we’re all looking for reads to help us curl up and forget the encroaching cold.  AAR staffers have chosen quite a diverse bunch of titles as those we’re most looking forward to in October – some big names and favourite authors (Jackie Ashenden, Karen Harper, Elizabeth Hoyt, Eloisa James) have new books out this month, and maybe our picks of some less familiar names might encourage you to give something new a try.


Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt (17 Oct)

I admit, I’m not quite convinced by the set up for this that we glimpsed at the end of Duke of Pleasure, but what the hell – this is the final full-length Maiden Lane novel and as such marks the end […]

My Summer of Singh

Summer 2017 will always be my Summer of Singh. I started a serious binge when I read Nalini Singh’s first Psy-Changeling book, Slave to Sensation, back in May, and just a week ago I finished Silver Silence, the latest release. That’s sixteen novels, not counting the short story collections, which I also read.

I’ve gone on binges before, but this one was different. I never burned out on Singh the way I’ve done before. In order to keep a series from feeling formulaic and predictable, I usually have to intersperse the books with reads by other authors and genres. In some cases, even that doesn’t help, as the authors themselves lose the spark that made their early books so engaging.

Not so for Singh. The Psy-Changeling books are so […]

By | 2017-09-18T03:39:57+00:00 September 18th, 2017|Categories: Authors, Books, Caroline AAR, Romance, Romance reading|Tags: , |14 Comments

Sam Heughan: A Romance Hero for the Ages

We’re excited for the premiere of Outlander tomorrow! Here’s a column we wrote about Sam Heughan, the lovely actor who plays Jamie Fraser. 

 

I’ve been thinking about the Golden Globes, which followed the Emmys in failing to nominate Sam Heughan for Outlander (the show was nominated for Best Drama, and both Caitriona Balfe as Claire and Tobias Menzies as Black Jack scored acting nominations). In criticizing this omission, most people point to the last few episodes of the season which, without getting spoilery, contain emotional and violent scenes which are the classic route to awards attention.

I would also have liked to have seen Heughan nominated, but for a totally different reason. In fact, I haven’t even seen the last two episodes yet. I thought Heughan did something exceptional long before those episodes – and that was to satisfy female viewers with his depiction of a beloved romantic hero.

People think women are simple. Throw a good-looking man on a screen, […]

By | 2017-09-09T17:08:34+00:00 September 9th, 2017|Categories: Caroline AAR, Television|Tags: , , |58 Comments

Exploding the Cold Shower Myth

The cold shower is the romance novel male equivalent of the internal hymen: you see it in books so frequently that you probably don’t notice it anymore, but when you stop to think about it, something’s off. In fact, everything is off. The cold shower, it seems, is just as grounded in reality as the mythical internal hymen.

What is the cold shower? Here are just a few of the many, many examples:

After ogling the heroine Jennifer, the hero Cletus reflects:

A cold shower was in order. And yoga. And then another cold shower. – Beard Science by Penny Reid

After ogling the heroine Lucy, the hero Zack reflects:

He needed a shower. A cold one. – Getting Rid of Bradley by Jennifer Crusie

After ogling the heroine Emma, the hero Connor reflects that if he couldn’t

take a cold shower, he’d have to settle for cold drinks. And maybe he should just pour the next one one in his lap, where it would do the […]

By | 2017-07-03T18:28:01+00:00 July 4th, 2017|Categories: Caroline AAR, Real Life, Romancelandia|2 Comments

Don’t Call Me Honey

Suzanne Brockmann’s Prince Joe was published in 1996, not exactly what we think of as the Dark Ages of feminism. But when I pulled it off my keeper shelf for a reread the other day, I noticed something that drove me absolutely bonkers: nicknaming.

The hero, Joe Catalanotto, is a Navy SEAL who grew up poor in New Jersey but happens to be a dead ringer for the prince of Ustanzia. When a wanted terrorist group tries to assassinate the prince, Joe steps in to impersonate him as bait. Veronica St. John’s job is to teach Joe how to pass as the prince. With just 48 hours until the tour resumes, and with admirals and senators involved and the economy of the prince’s country and the fate of one of America’s Most Wanted on the line, it’s a high stakes impersonation.

And Joe gives Veronica the least […]

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:00+00:00 May 5th, 2017|Categories: Caroline AAR, Characters, Movies|35 Comments

Tale as Old as Time… Our Favourite Beauty and the Beast Stories

When I heard that there was going to be a live-action version of Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson I was incredibly excited. Disney’s cartoon version was a childhood favorite of mine and, even though I was disappointed with the live-action take on Cinderella, I hoped that the the choice to keep the film a musical would help retain some of the original magic.

I saw Beauty and the Beast on opening weekend and I have to say, I loved it. Watson was perfectly cast as the modern Belle, who is just a beautiful as the original, but more strong-willed and inventive. Hearing new takes on the familiar songs brought out the child in me, but I also enjoyed some of the new numbers, particularly the Beast’s heart wrenching song “Evermore”.

Leaving the theater, my first thought (after wanting to download “Evermore” to listen to again) was that I wanted to read something Beauty and the Beast! There are so many fantastic adaptations out there that I knew I could either go […]