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: , |12 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: , , |57 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 […]

Refugee Heroines

Regency spy novels are chock full of French emigrés fleeing the Revolution, but more recent stories of migration, including refugees, can be a little harder to find. Here are some post-World War II stories of heroes and heroines either living in areas of crisis, fleeing them, or encountering other characters who have done both. We have border patrol agents, war orphans and adoptees, humanitarian workers, and ordinary people trying to survive.


Caroline Russomanno:

A Daughter’s Journey by Linda Cardillo in the anthology A Mother’s Heart. Journalist Melanie Ames escapes Saigon just before the city is retaken by North Vietnamese forces, cutting short her love affair with a doctor in the city. Decades later, she returns with her adopted Vietnamese daughter Tien, who is seeking to learn more about her roots, and finds her lover still in country, doing his best to help the casualties of war. This tiny (96 page!) novella amazed me […]

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:00+00:00 February 22nd, 2017|Categories: Caroline AAR, Heroines, Maggie AAR, Reading, Romance, Romance reading, Settings|4 Comments

Scenes that make us swoon…. (Part Two)

I asked the AAR staff to share the scenes from novels they found the most romantic. And, boy, did they come up with some exquisite scenes. Be prepared to swoon….


Caroline:

In Again, by Kathleen Gilles Seidel, the heroine Jenny Cotton, showrunner of a Regency-set soap opera, has been with her boyfriend Brian (an actor on the soap) for over a decade when Brian commits a terrible betrayal. Meanwhile, Alec Cameron, another actor, has fallen in love with Jenny, and his Grand Romantic Gesture is of the most delightfully practical and empathetic type.
Everyone in the production goes into hysterics over Brian’s misdeed, which doesn’t help Jenny in the slightest. An actress doesn’t want to work with Brian, but Jenny’s show will be ruined if the actors don’t act. A producer offers to fire anybody to help Jenny, but Jenny’s professional reputation will be in trouble if she’s seen as having someone fired […]

Midweek Minis

AAR staffers are avid readers – Caroline, Dabney, Emily, LinnieGayl, Maria Rose and Sara are here to share their thoughts on some of their recent reads.

Caroline’s Read:

Almost a Scandal by Elizabeth Essex

Sally Kent’s brother Richard lets the family tradition down when instead of joining the Navy, he escapes to the clergy. So it’s Sally, who’s got the family saltwater blood, who dons midshipman’s blues and sets sail on the Audacious just before Trafalgar. She finds herself under the supervision of Lieutenant David Colyear, an outstanding officer and old friend of her brothers.

I adore competent, intelligent heroines, Sally’s natural bent for the sea is developed in a way that is completely convincing without seeming over the top. From her love of the wind and water to her ability to manage onboard rivalries, she’s a sailor to the tips of her fingers. I believed completely that if she’d been born today, she’d be […]

Yes We Can! Our favorite Activist Heroines

Women have a long history of standing up for their beliefs, and there are great romance novels starring heroines doing just that. American and British suffragettes (or suffragists), Civil Rights activists, lawyers, writers, organizers, and military rebels – you’ll find all of them here, and more. Let these ladies inspire you to fight for your beliefs, whatever they happen to be.


Caroline Russomanno:

Erica Johnson – Unfinished Business by Karyn Langhorne

Erica, a teacher, is tired of seeing funding diverted away from the neediest and most vulnerable. She protests at the hero’s (a Southern Republican senator’s) press conference and is dragged out by police. This book is set during the W. Bush administration and Erica is a strong reminder that black activists have been working continuously, even when out of the media spotlight. Our review of the book is here.

A/BN/iB/K

Gretna or Bust: A guest post by KJ Charles (and a giveaway)

If there’s one journey that defines the Regency romance, it’s the flight to Gretna Green. This is a staple of many a m/f historical, and my latest m/m romance, Wanted, a Gentleman, also involves a flight to the border. (There is only so long you can write British historical romance before this happens.) But what was it about Gretna Green that made it some sort of kilted Las Vegas?

Well, mostly, it’s in Scotland, and Scotland had different marriage laws. In England after 1754, an under 21 could not marry without parental consent (unless they managed to publish the banns over the course of several weeks without the parents finding out, which would be a challenge). However, in Scotland, boys could marry at 14 and girls at 12–with or without parental consent. Furthermore, Scottish law allowed for ‘irregular marriages’ which could be conducted by almost anyone in the presence of witnesses, not just by […]

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:02+00:00 January 9th, 2017|Categories: Caroline AAR, giveaways, Guest Posts|Tags: , |56 Comments