Today’s Steals and Deals at AAR…..

We adored Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. (Here’s our rave review.)

There is so much to like about this book, it’s hard to know where to start. Cath makes an amazing protagonist. Unlike the plastic, cookie cutter heroines of so many other NA books, with their perfect looks and shallow insecurities, Cath suffers true social anxieties. Her struggles to overcome her fears over being in a place so totally foreign and new without the support of her twin sister are true obstacles. However, Cath is far from a doormat, standing up for herself when it really counts. She is fiercely protective of her father, and her frustration and pain over what she perceives as Wren’s countless betrayals is heartbreaking.

The romance in Fangirl develops slowly and naturally. Given her introverted nature, Cath’s inexperience and naivety rings true. As a hero, Levi is a refreshing change from the typical six-packed, tattooed NA stud (hello, receding hairline!), and he makes some pretty big missteps that cause Cath serious heartache. But the way Cath’s view of him changes as her feelings for him move through the spectrum from annoyance into love is very realistic. Their first kiss was knee-meltingly sweet.

The role of fan fiction in Fangirl is something unique and wholly current. Those who have never understood or enjoyed the world of fan fiction might find it difficult to relate to Cath’s obsession with Simon Snow. But for those of us who have either read or written in a particular fandom, her experience is so very familiar. Indeed, whether Rainbow Rowell intended it or not, I found Cath’s reluctance to leave behind the well-known and comfortable world of Simon Snow to perfectly parallel her discomfort with leaving behind the security of childhood. It’s only as she learns to create her own fictional worlds that she realizes that she has the strength to face the adult world.

I could gush for another few hundred words about Fangirl, but I’d rather just send you off to get started on this terrific story. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

You can purchase it at Amazon for 2.99 here.

Have you read These Old Shades? We loved it and our readers do too.

The story begins in the Paris of Louis XV where the Duke of Avon encounters Léonie dressed as a boy running from her brother to escape a beating. Struck by her Titian hair and believing he knows its source, the Duke buys her and turns her into his page. Léonie worships Avon for rescuing her, and follows him around Paris in an attitude of slavish adoration. The Duke has a fearful reputation, if often called Satanas, but Léonie will allow no criticism.

The Compte de Sainte-Vire is an old enemy. Avon believes Léonie is his daughter. He’s certain of it when, after showing unusual interest in Léonie, the Compte sends an intermediary to try to buy the page everyone else believes is the boy, Léon. Avon refuses. After making a visit to the town where Léonie grew up, Avon makes the surprising announcement that he’s known from the first that Léon was really Léonie, and that he intends to take her to England, teach her to be a girl again, and adopt her as his ward.

At this point, the Duke’s brother and sister, Rupert and Fanny, make their appearances, and the read learns even more about the Duke’s dark past.

While in England, everyone realizes that Léonie loves the Duke. They also realize that he loves Léonie. But since he’s twice her age and has a terrible reputation, he doesn’t consider marriage. Léonie believes herself baseborn, and knows the proud Duke would never marry beneath him.

The Compte de Sainte-Vire kidnaps Léonie. The chase and rescue are wonderful. It’s only about now that the reader figures out that Léonie is the legitimate daughter of Sainte-Vire, that he switched her at birth for a son, and that he’s trying to get rid of her before exposure of his villainous deed can destroy him. Avon is just as determined to prove Léonie’s birth and restore her to the rank and privilege she deserves. This puts the two powerful aristocrats on a collision course with Léonie caught in the middle.

The tension is wonderful from the very beginning, yet the constant humor keeps you laughing and reading as fast as you can to see what happens next. Mrs. Heyer had three years to work on this book, and it shows. Every line of dialogue is a gem, the absolute perfect thing for the character to have said at that moment. There are no long sections of narrative as in so many of her later books – just page after page of delightfully funny dialogue and nerve-racking suspense. And all the while you can see these two people falling more and more deeply in love.

These Old Shades is simply a great book. If you haven’t read it, give yourself a real treat. They always tell writers that the most successful books are about people you care about. These Old Shades is spilling over with characters so brilliantly portrayed you can’t help caring about them.

You can buy it at Amazon for 1.88 here.

Jillian Hunter’s Bocastle series is over the top but a lot of fun. This is the last in the series.

The duke wants only one woman for his bride …

From the moment that the Duke of Rochecliffe understood the meaning of desire, he assumed that Lady Ravenna Boscastle would be his wife. After all, she and her brothers had been Simon’s best friends for practically forever. He never dreamed that the rogues would decide he was too indecent to wed their sister.

Several years pass before he and Ravenna meet at a London ball. As scandal-prone as her notorious relatives, Ravenna is busy breaking off her engagement to another man when Simon inconveniently needs her to save his life.

Caught with the duke in a shocking encounter, Ravenna remembers she’s been warned that the boy who was once her best friend has grown up to be a naughty gentleman indeed. To stifle gossip, Ravenna agrees to marry the charismatic devil, knowing she will spend the rest of her life discovering how wicked Simon has become …

You can get it at Amazon for 2.99 here.

We gave The Deserted Bride a B+. (Our review is here.)

Mary, Queen of Scots, was the subject (both knowing and unknowing) of many Catholic plots to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I. Aware of this, and with new rumors afoot, Andrew, Earl of Exford, is assigned to monitor Mary’s visit to an English spa town. Luckily, he has a cover. Ten years ago, when he was sixteen and she was ten, he married Lady Elizabeth (Bess) Turville, whose estate is conveniently near the spa. He can reclaim her, consummate their chaste marriage, and take her on a honeymoon during Mary’s visit. No one will be the wiser – unless, of course, an actual conspiracy interrupts things.

At the beginning of this book, Drew is a complete tool. No two ways about it. When he first meets Bess, he mistakes her for a local lass, and fully plots to seduce her since she’s so much better looking than the wife he recalls (who was, let’s also remember, ten). This sets up an absolute gem of a scene in which Bess, who has recognized her husband, welcomes him to their estate in full regalia and makes him look like a total buffoon. This scene was so delicious and deserved that it actually made me giggle.

Bess’s quick wit quickly becomes a defining character trait. After Bess deflates a catty aristocrat’s joke with a classical reference, the woman attempts to turn the tables, asking;

“Does [Drew] admire your pedantry, Lady Exford? I had not thought him to be attracted to female learning.”

Bess calmly replies,

“Oh, I think that he prefers it to female ignorance.”

In addition, she’s a competent estate manager and a clever thinker – all in all, a terrific heroine. I’m ambivalent about Drew though . He does improve as the story progresses, but I think he deserved a few more set-downs before Bess, blissed out on newlywed sex, stops zinging him. So much of his turnaround was based on finding Bess attractive upon his return, and I wanted more recognition from him of the awesomeness of inner Bess….


It’s on sale for 1.99 here.

You can see all our current deals at our Amazon storefront here.

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