Home Forums Let’s Talk Romance The AAR 18 in 2018 Reading Challenge

Viewing 105 reply threads
  • Author
    Posts
    • Maggie Boyd
      Keymaster
      Post count: 66

      Let’s get this party started!

    • Maggie Boyd
      Keymaster
      Post count: 66

      Dance!
      Read 1 8(or 10 or 12) books that match the criteria listed within the challenge to complete it.
      1. Square Dance – Associated with the romantic image of the American Cowboy. Read a Western Romance. (Cowboy, ranchers, you name it -if it’s associated with the American West it works!)
      2. Watermelon Crawl – A country line dance made famous by the Tracy Byrd song. Read a small-town romance or a book that takes place at a fair.
      3. Tango (Chase)– An elegant, stylized dance often associated with danger. Read a romantic suspense novel or romance involving a mystery of some kind.
      4. Waltz – A ballroom dance. Read a Regency or European historical romance
      5. Boogie-Woogie – A form of swing dance popularized in the 30s/40s. Read a novel that takes place in the 30s/40s
      6. Pole Dance – This dance is meant to inspire desire. Read a hot romance.
      7. Quickstep- The movement of the dance is fast and powerfully flowing and sprinkled with unexpected rhythms. Read a romance involving someone doing fancy footwork, like a thief, con-man, ad man, lawyer etc.
      8. The Lindy Hop – A type of swing dance named after Charles Lindbergh who “hopped” across the Atlantic. Read a romance about someone who travels a lot for a living (pilot, war correspondent etc.) or where a trip is central to the story.
      9. Salsa – A Cuban dance whose origins began with Latin Jazz. Read a romance that takes place in the Caribbean or that has an h/h from that area or since the dance is often associated with Miami, read a book that takes place in Florida.
      10. Rumba – There is a famous scene in the I Love Lucy show (Season 1, Episode 3) where Lucy is dressed in a Carmen Miranda outfit. It is typically referred to as Lucy’s Rumba and has inspired everything from Christmas Ornaments to Postcards. In honor of that moment, read a humorous romance.
      11. Jitterbug – a type of swing dance, made popular by Cab Calloway’s 1934 recording of “Call of the Jitter Bug” (Jitterbug) and the film “Cab Calloway’s Jitterbug Party”. It actually refers to someone who is high from alcohol or drugs and has “the jitters” as a result. Read a book about a bar tender or someone who works in a bar, a novel that takes place in a bar or that involves alcohol in some significant way or read a book about a recovered alcoholic/ drug addict or that involves an intervention.
      12. Polka – a popular folk dance from Eastern Europe. Read a book that takes place in Eastern Europe or where the h/h are descended from Eastern Europeans.
      13. March – Marches are associated with soldiers; read a military romance.
      14. Jive – Jive is a type of swing dance associated with jazz music. Jive talking is to speak in an exaggerated, teasing, or misleading way. Read a book with an h/h who is in politics or a profession where the truth is exaggerated.
      15. Tap dance – Children are often taught how to tap at an early age. Read a book where the h/h are single parents or a book that involves a pregnancy in some way.
      16. Ballet – Ballets often tell epic stories. Read an epic romance or a book with high drama.
      17. Break dancing – Athletic style of street dancing. Read a book about an h/h who are into sports.
      18. Electric boogaloo- a funk style of hip hop dance closely related to popping. African American pop culture has given us many, many different dances of which this is just one. Read a book with an h/h who are African American.
      19. Moonwalk – dance move in which the dancer moves backwards while seemingly walking forwards. Read a science fiction or fantasy book.
      20. Rain Dance – many Native American dances involved evoking blessings. Read a novel with a Native American character or a book that significantly involves a weather event (flood, fire etc.)
      21. Hokey Pokey – One of the earliest dances most Americans learn, often used in schools for indoor play or gym class. Read a novel about a teacher or someone who works in education.
      22. Macarena – This fun song/dance deals with a cheating girlfriend. Read a book that has a cheating plot or where the h/h had a cheating previous partner.
      23. Bharatanatyam – a classical dance from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, practiced predominantly in modern times by women. Read a novel that takes place in India.
      24. Belly dancing – associated with the Middle East. Read a novel set in the Middle East or with Middle Eastern characters.
      25. Charleston – This extremely popular dance type was popularized by famous tune called “The Charleston” by composer and pianist James P. Johnson. Read a book that takes place in the American South, where Charleston is located.
      26. Merengue – a type of lively, joyful music and dance that comes from the Dominican Republic. Merengue means whipped egg whites and sugar in Spanish, similar to the English word meringue. Read a book that involves a baker or cook.
      27. Flash dance – a form of tap dance that evolved in the 1920s–1930s, which combined dance with acrobatics. Read a book that takes place in a short span of time.
      28. Long Dance- Native American Dance celebration held on California’s Central Coast in San Luis Obispo County. Read a book that is 400+ pages or a book that covers a long time period (over a year). Or a book that has two separate time line stories like many S. Brockman novels or Suzanna Kearsley or Simone St. James books.
      29. Monster Mash – The song is narrated by a mad scientist whose monster, late one evening, rises from a slab to perform a new dance. The dance becomes “the hit of the land” when the scientist throws a party for other monsters. Read a paranormal romance.
      30. Highland Fling – a solo Highland dance that gained popularity in the early 19th century. Read a Scottish romance.
      31. Angle Dance – A Robert Plant song/lullaby. Read an Inspirational romance.
      32. Mambo Italiano- In the movie by this name a young Canadian Immigrant struggles to find a way to tell his parents he is gay. Read a LGBTQ romance.
      33. Mambo Number Five – Lou Bega’s song and dance is all about switching partners. Read a book that involves second chance at love or a ménage/multi-partner romance.
      34. Twist – Chuck Berry invited us to twist the night away, a dance that involves the feet grinding back and forth on the floor. Sounds easy but like the hula-hoop this can be hard to master. Read a book which involves a surprising plot twist, such as where the heroine thinks the hero guilty of a crime.
      35. The Chicken (Funky Chicken) – a popular rhythm and blues dance started in America in the 1950s, in which the dancers flapped their arms and kicked back their feet in an imitation of a chicken. Chicken soup is what we give those who are ill. Read a medical romance.
      36. “The Time Warp” – a song featured in the 1973 rock musical The Rocky Horror Show and in its 1975 film adaptation The Rocky Horror Picture Show, as well as a dance performed during the chorus of the song. Read a time travel romance.
      37. River Dance – the dance sensation that swept a nation, this is an Irish folk dance. Read an Irish romance.
      38. Bolero – one of the competition dances in American Rhythm ballroom dance category. Read a book about a bet or some other type of competition (i.e. The Hating Game – two characters vying for the same job).
      39. Cha-Cha (Cha-Cha-Cha) “Optimist: Someone who figures that taking a step backward
      after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it’s a cha-cha.” Robert Brault Read a romance with a Pollyanna type character or read a book where the h/h are forced to return home for some reason.
      40. Read a book with a dance word in the title, such as Pamela Morsi’s Last Dance at Jitterbug Lounge or a book with a dancing couple on the cover.
      41. Free style – Whatever book you want.

    • Maggie Boyd
      Keymaster
      Post count: 66

      The Alphabet Challenge
      R is the 18th letter of the alphabet. Read 10 or 18 books where the title or author’s name begins with the letter R.

      The Alphabet Challenge Variation
      Variation read 18 books where the title/author name begins with the letter A, then B, C, etc. through R.

      The 21st Century Challenge
      Read 18 books, one per year published in 2001, 2002 through 2018

      The 20th Century Challenge
      Read 18 books, one per year published in 2000, 1999 back through 1983

    • Maggie Boyd
      Keymaster
      Post count: 66

      The Jingle Challenge
      If you grew up in the 20th century, there was a song selling just about every product under the sun. Read 10,12 or 18 books that match the criteria within the challenge to complete it.

      1. When You Say Bud You’ve Said It All – (Budweiser) Read a friends to lovers romance or a romance where the h/h have known each other a long time.
      2. The Best Part of Waking Up (Folgers)- Read a book about a coffee barista, café worker/owner, or h/h who are in the food industry in some way.
      3. Like a Good Neighbor – Read a small town romance or a story where the h/h return home.
      4. Libbys, Libbys, Libbys On The Label, Label, Label (Libbys canned goods) Read a book where the h/h are farmers, ranchers or work with groceries in some capacity. British nobles often had home farms with their property, which would count.
      5. I’d Like to Teach The World To Sing (Coke)– Read a romance where the h/h work with music in some capacity or a book with song name/lyrics in the title.
      6. Five Dollar Foot Long (Subway) – Read a hot romance or a romance where the h/h are well endowed.
      7. Meow Meow Meow Meow (Meow Mix) Read a book that involves animals in some way.
      8. Stuck on Bandaid (Bandaid) – Read a book where the h/h work in medicine in some capacity.
      9. Two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun (McDonald’s) McDonald’s is the king of fast food restaurants. Read a book about h/h in a high powered career or a book where the h/h are titled nobility.
      10. Wouldn’t You Like To Be A Pepper Too? (Dr. Pepper) Read a book where the h/h are described as sassy, sarcastic, opinionated etc. or a book where the h/h belong to something (band, motorcycle gang etc.)
      11. I Don’t Want to Grow Up, I’m a Toys R Us Kid – Read a book about single parent(s) or a book that involves children in some way (i.e. h/h are teachers, social workers etc.)
      12. Gimme a Break (Kit-Kat) Read a second chance at love story or a reunion romance
      13. There’s Nothing Like the face (of a kid eating a Hershey Bar, Hershey) – The great American chocolate bar. It all began with a visit to Hershey by Captain Paul P. Logan of the US Army Quartermaster Corps in 1937, as America drifted closer to war. Samuel Hinkle, Hershey’s chief chemist at the time and a future company president, said Logan asked Hershey to develop “a kind of survival ration.” The resulting chocolate bar, with greater nutritional value and a higher melting point than usual, was the beginning of what came to be called a D Ration. Read a romance with a veteran or where the h/h are in the military.
      14. Hot Dogs, Armour Hotdogs (Armour Hotdogs) to be a hotdog is to perform unusual or very intricate maneuvers in a sport or to perform in a reckless or flamboyant manner. Read a sports romance.
      15. (I wish I was an) Oscar Mayer Weiner (Oscar Mayer) – Hopefully most of us have higher aspirations than being a hotdog! Read a book where the h/h are starting a new career or work in their dream job. Or since the lyrics include “so everyone would be in love with me” read a romance where the h/h is popular, famous, or infamous.
      16. My baloney has a first name (Oscar Mayer Bologna) – Read a romance that involves a family name, such as the MacGregor Saga by Nora Roberts or a romance that includes a name in the title such as Searching for Irene, The Charming Lady Charlotte etc.
      17. We love baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and Chevrolet (Chevrolet) – Read a romance that involves cars/motorcylces/vehicles in some capacity. Or since this is meant to describe American life, read a romance that takes place in America.
      18. Plop, plop fizz, fizz oh what a relief it is (Alka Seltzer) Alka Seltzer is all about solving a problem. Read a romantic suspense book.
      19. Have a coke and a smile (Coca Cola) – Read a book where the h/h works in a profession where smiles are important such as dentist, model or actor.
      20. Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t (Peter Paul Almond Joy/Mounds) Read a humorous romance or a romance that takes place in a tropical location.
      21. Double, double your refreshment (doublemint gum) These ads involved twins. Read a book where the h/h have a twin or read several connected books about siblings.
      22. Smack dab in the middle (Chewels) Read the second book in a trilogy or any book that is in the middle of a series.
      23. I want my baby back ribs (Chillis) – Read a book that involves a secret baby or unplanned pregnancy.
      24. Mmm, Mmm Good (Campbell’s Soup) Read an award winning romance.
      25. Head for the Mountains (Busch Beer) Read a book where the h/h work in a bar or with alcohol in some way.
      26. I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan (Enjoli) Read a book where the heroine’s independent nature is a definitive aspect of her character. (I.e. suffragette, devoted to her career, refuses to marry because she doesn’t want to give up her independence etc.)
      27. Just one calorie, now you see it, now you don’t (Diet Pepsi) – Read a romance that has ghosts or spirits.
      28. Meet the Swinger, the Polaroid Swinger (Polaroid Cameras) Read a romance with multiple partners or where the h/h have a second chance at love.
      29. Just One Cornetto – Give it to me!’ (British Ice Cream Ad) Read a romance set in England or a romance that involves cold weather in some way.
      30. Snickers satisfies you – Be satisfied with your reading choices. This is a wild card to be used for any type of book.
      31. Fruity Oaty Bar! Commercial (Serenity Movie) – A song that triggers an assassin. Read a sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal romance.
      32. Last beer to have when you’re having more than one (Schafer beer) H/h is recover(ed)ing addict or works with addiction in some way
      33. Tonight is Kind of Special (Lowenbrau) – One night stand romance or cabin/road trip romance.
      34. From the Land of Sky Blue Waters (Hamms) – A book that takes place on or near the water, or has something to do with water on the cover/title.
      35. You can wear a ring around your finger (Ring Pop) – a book revolving around a wedding or with bride/wedding in the title or a book with a fake engagement.
      36. The world looks mighty good to me cause tootsie rolls are all I see (Tootsie Roll) Whatever it is I think I see, becomes a tootsie roll to me: Read a book that involves amnesia, mistaken identity/false identity or witness protection etc.
      37. Fresh goes better (Mentos) Read a book about fresh starts – new career, new location, makeover etc.
      38. Kiss a little longer, Give your breath long lasting freshness (Big Red) Read a long romance (400+ pages) or a romance that takes place over a year or more or a romance that has story lines in two different time periods or where the plot is affected by events of the past.
      39. Thingamabob, gooblygook, what’s it face (Whatchamacallit Candy Bar) – Any type of romance you want.
      40. The taste is gonna move you (Juicy Fruit) Read a book where the h/h has a passion (environment, politics, working with needy) or read an Inspirational romance.

    • Maggie Boyd
      Keymaster
      Post count: 66

      Defining Love
      Mankind has looked for the true meaning of love for centuries. Below are some quotes that offer a glimpse of what it means. Read 10,12 or 18 books that match the criteria within the challenge to complete it.
      1. Love is friendship that has caught fire ( Anne Landers ) Read a friends to lovers romance.
      2. Love is the answer, (John Lennon) Read a mystery/romantic suspense.
      3. Love is a flower, you’ve got to let it grow. (John Lennon) Read a book about a landscaper, florist or farmer. Or about someone who works in the outdoors in some way.
      4. Love is higher than a mountain (Bee Gees) Read a book that takes place in Montana or Colorado or any other area known for their mountains.
      5. Love is deeper than water (Bee Gees) Read a book that takes place on a ship or that involves water in some way. (i.e. body of water in the title such as Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas)
      6. Love is like an hourglass, with the heart filling up as the brain empties. (Jules Renard) Read a time travel romance.
      7. Love is stronger than death (Robert Fulghum) Read a vampire romance or another type of paranormal or read a romance that involves a significant death. (Ie married because it is required in a will such as in Mary Balogh’s Slightly Married)
      8. True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen. (Francois de La Rochefoucauld) Read a story with ghosts or spirits
      9. Life is a game and true love is a trophy. (Rufus Wainwright) Read a sports romance or a book that involves a competition of some kind.
      10. Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope. (Maya Angelou) Read an across the tracks romance or where the h/h overcome a significant barrier (class, religion, etc.)
      11. Love is like a virus. It can happen to anybody at any time. (Maya Angelou) Read a medical romance or a romance that involves someone who works in the medical industry.
      12. Love is a friendship set to music. (Joseph Campbell) Read a book where the h or h are musicians or read a novel with a title based on song lyrics/song title. (Earls Just Wanna Have Fun etc.)
      13. Love is a better teacher than duty. (Albert Einstein) Read a book about a teacher/educator
      14. God is Love (Apostle John) Read an Inspirational romance.
      15. We are born of love; Love is our mother. (Rumi) Read a book about a single mother.
      16. Love is an ice cream sundae, with all the marvelous coverings. Sex is the cherry on top. (Jimmy Dean) Read a book about a sweet maker (baker, candy maker, cook) or with sweet(s) being mentioned in the title in some way.
      17. Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts. (Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. ) Read a small town romance or a book where the h/h are forced to return home for some reason.
      18. Love is the silent saying and saying of a single name. (Mignon McLaughlin) Read a book with someone who works with words for a living (writer, lawyer, reporter, TV host) or with a family name in the title (ie Nora Robert’s The MacGregors) or with a name in the title (ie: Searching for Irene, The Charming Lady Charlotte).
      19. Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs. (William Shakespeare) Read a firefighter romance or a book involving a fire in some way.
      20. Love is not to be purchased, and affection has no price. (St. Jerome) Read a book with a wealthy h/h or where someone needs to marry for money.
      21. Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired. (Robert Frost) Read a “hot” romance.
      22. Mature love is composed and sustaining; a celebration of commitment, companionship, and trust. (H. Jackson Brown, Jr. ) Read a book with an older h/h
      23. Love is a battle, love is a war; (James A Baldwin) Military romance or a book that takes place during a war time period.
      24. Love is a growing up. James A. Baldwin Read a YA romance.
      25. Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.(James A. Baldwin) Read a book that involves a deception or dishonesty in some way.
      26. Love many things (Vincent Van Gogh) Read a second chance at love story.
      27. Love is a canvas furnished by nature and embroidered by imagination. (Voltaire) Read a book about artists or people who use their imagination in some way for a living.
      28. Love is chemical (Lou Reed) Read a book with a scientist or involving science in some way.
      29. Love is an exploding cigar we willingly smoke. (Lynda Barry) Read a lighthearted/comedic romance.
      30. Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul. (Saint Augustine) Read a beauty/beast themed romance.
      31. Love is love. Read an LGBTQ romance.
      32. Love is in the Air In the movie Strictly Ballroom the main couple dance to this at the end. Read a book that involves dancing in some way, has the name of a dance on the cover or that has a dancing couple on the cover.
      33. Love is a Song – from the movie Bambi – read a book about a singer or a novel that involves animals in some way.
      34. Love is (comic strip) These comics involved two often naked lovers telling us what love was/is all about. Read a book about a stripper, a writer, or someone who works with comics in some way.
      35. Love is the absence of judgement (Dali Lama) Read a book about a judge or where h/h is involved with law enforcement in some way.
      36. I want to know what love is (Foreigner song) Wildcard – any book you want.
      37. Find your own quote about love that matches the book you are reading and share it with us!

    • Maggie Boyd
      Keymaster
      Post count: 66

      Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler)
      Read any 10 or 18 books from your TBR pile

    • Maggie Boyd
      Keymaster
      Post count: 66

      The Shoe Challenge: Many say it is a woman’s favorite accessory: . Read 10,12 or 18 books that match the criteria within the challenge to complete it
      1. ALMOND TOE A shoe style which features a softly rounded, tapered pointed toe. Read a book where the h/h works with food in some way.
      2. ATHLEISURE Fashion sportswear that is inspired by both athletic and leisure elements. Read a book where the h/h work in the leisure industry (hotel, vacation planner, tour guide etc)
      3. BABY BOOTIES – Quite possibly the sweetest shoe on earth. Read a book about a secret baby or a book involving a pregnancy.
      4. BALLET SLIPPERS – Read a book where the h/h are dancers or where there is a dance word in the title.
      5. BOAT SHOES A flat shoe designed with a rubber sole that offers good traction on slippery boat decks, often made from leather or canvas. Read a book that involves water in some way (h/h are sailors, water in the title, takes place near a lake/river etc.)
      6. BOWLING SHOES – At the start of the 21st century bowling alleys had problems with patrons stealing shoes as they became a fashion trend. Read a novel published in or taking place in the 21st Century.
      7. CHELSEA BOOT A type of pull-on ankle-height boot featuring elastic gussets. America’s most famous Chelsea is the daughter of two politicians. Read a book about a politician, a politician’s child or that involves politics in some way.
      8. CLEATS – An athletic shoe. Read a sports romance.
      9. CLOG -Clogging is the official state dance of Kentucky and North Carolina and was the social dance in the Appalachian Mountains as early as the 18th century. Read a book that takes place in the Appalachian area.
      10. COMBAT BOOTS Lace up multipurpose boots originally designed for the military. Read a military romance.
      11. COWBOY BOOTS -Read a Western romance or a book where the h/h is a farmer/rancher
      12. CROCS- a summer shoe. Read a book that takes place in summer.
      13. DESIGNER SHOES – Read a book where the h/h is wealthy.
      14. ESPADRILLE – A shoe or sandal that has a woven rope or similar material covering the wedge or sole. Espadrilles have been made in Occitania region (France), in the Pyrennean regions of Basque country (France – Spain) and Catalonia (Spain), since the 14th century at least, and there are shops in the Basque country (France – Spain) still in existence that have been making espadrilles for over a century. Read a book that takes place in France or Spain or has French/Spanish characters or a book that uses a French or Spanish word in the title.
      15. FLIP FLOPS -The ultimate casual, contemporary shoe. Read a contemporary romance.
      16. GALOSH -Waterproof footwear designed to be worn over other shoes or boots in wet weather. Read a book that takes place in a location known for their rain, such as India (monsoons), a jungle, England, Washington state in the U.S.
      17. GLADIATOR – Designed to resemble the shoes worn by ancient Roman fighters. Read a book about a boxer or other style of fighter, about a competition or bet, or about ancient Rome.
      18. HIDDEN WEDGE – A wedge-shaped heel hidden inside a boot or shoe. Read a book that revolves around a secret, a mystery or mistaken/hidden identity or read a romantic suspense novel.
      19. HIGH IN THE INSTEP – Read a book about a proud h/h.
      20. HIGH TOPS – Read a book where the h/h has achieved success.
      21. INSOLE Like the soul of a man, this inner part of a shoe that touches the bottom of the foot, is hidden within. Read an Inspirational Romance.
      22. KID SLIPPERS – Regency era shoe. Read a Regency romance. Or read a book involving children in some way.
      23. KITTEN HEEL A low-heeled stiletto shoe, often between 1 and 2 inches in heel height. Read a hot or sexy romance.
      24. MARY JANE – Read a book with a name in the title, that is part of a series based on siblings/family members or that involves young girls in some way.
      25. MOCASSIN – Read a Native American Romance or a romance that takes place in the Colonial/Revolutionary War period of the U.S.
      26. MOTORCYCLE BOOTS – Read a motorcycle club romance or read a romance where the h/h works with vehicles in some way (truck driver, mechanic, etc.)
      27. MULES – A shoe or sandal characterized by a closed, or nearly closed, toe and a backless heel of any height. Read a book involving animals.
      28. OXFORD – An Oxford shoe is characterized by shoelace eyelets tabs that are attached under the vamp,[1] a feature termed “closed lacing. Read a book about a vampire or another paranormal romance. Or read a book that takes place in England, home to Oxford University. Or read a book that takes place in or around a University.
      29. OVER THE KNEE BOOTS Boots featuring high shafts that are designed to hit above the knee. May be flat or heeled. Read a book about an uptight/ conservative hero or heroine.
      30. PEEP TOE – A shoe with a narrow opening in the front that exposes the toes. Read a book where the h/h wear their heart on their sleeve or where they are activists of some kind.
      31. PENNY LOAFER – This wardrobe shoe staple has been around since the early 1930s. Read a book that takes place in the 20th century.
      32. PLATFORMS – A stage is a fancy platform. Read a book where the h/h are actors or performers (singers, magicians, musicians etc.) of some kind.
      33. POINTED TOE PUMPS – An enclosed shoe with a heel of any height. Read a book with an Alpha heel (hero) or read a book with a pointed message.
      34. RETRO – Style paying homage to the past. Read a book where the h/h work with history in some way (historian/archeology/remodeling)
      35. RIDING BOOTS– Horse racing is the sport of kings. Read a book where the h/h is a member of the nobility.
      36. SADDLE SHOE – A low-heeled Oxford-style shoe that is characterized by a saddle-shaped mid-foot panel. Read a book from any era in history where riding horses was the primary means of transportation.
      37. SANDAL – Quite possibly the oldest shoe known to man. Read a historical novel.
      38. SHAFT – The upper portion of a boot that covers the ankle and sometimes the leg. Read a book where the h/h have been “shafted” in some way (cheating former spouse, robbed of an inheritance etc.)
      39. SLING BACK – Read a time travel romance.
      40. SLIPPER – The ultimate comfort shoe. Read a cozy or sweet romance.
      41. SNOW SHOES – Winter wear. Read a romance that takes place primarily in the winter or that has a winter scene on the cover.
      42. SPECTATOR- Read a book with a quiet h/h or an h/h who observe life from the shadows.
      43. STEEL TOE – Read a book where the h/h is known for their strength or has endured a great trial (falsely imprisoned, debilitating sports or other injury) or where they have overcome a challenge of some kind (blindness, deafness, depression, cancer)
      44. STILETTO The ultimate girl shoe. Read a book about a girly girl, a perfect lady or a heroine who is either taller than average or described as shorter than average.
      45. SYNTHETIC – Many shoes are made of manmade materials these days. Read a book that is “fake” in some way, such as a fantasy, sci-fi, or alternate history romance.
      46. TENNIS SHOES – Originally worn while playing tennis but now popular off the courts. Read a fish out of water romance or a romance where the h/h have a barrier between them.
      47. WEDGE – A triangular, wedge-shaped heel that runs along the entire length of the foot. Read a book with a big misunderstanding.
      48. WINGTIP – Read a book about a pilot or stewardess.
      49. WORK BOOTS – Read a blue collar/working class romance.
      50. Did I miss a shoe? Make your own category!

    • Maggie Boyd
      Keymaster
      Post count: 66

      Catchphrase Challenge based on famous TV catchphrases:Read 10,12 or 18 books that match the criteria within the challenge to complete it

      1. “Heeeere’s…Johnny!” Ed McMahon (the Tonight Show) Read a romance with a name in the title or read a series book about a family (such as Mary Balogh’s Huxtable series or Bedwyn saga).
      2. “Yada, yada, yada.” Seinfeld TV series (used by Elaine and George’s felonious girlfriend.) Read a book about anything – or nothing. This is a wildcard.
      3. “How you doin’?” Joey Tribbiani (Friends) Read a friends to lovers romance or a book(s) from a series based around a group of friends such as Jo Beverley’s Rogues
      4. “What’choo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” Gary Coleman (Arnold Jackson Diff’rent Strokes) This show was all about making a major change in life. Read a rags to riches story, a makeover story or a fish out of water type story.
      5. “The tribe has spoken.” (Survivor) Read a book that is part of a series or where the h/h live in a tribal community.
      6. “And that’s the way it is.” (Walter Cronkite) This is a blast from the past. Read a historical novel.
      7. “Who are you wearing?” (Joan Rivers Golden Globes red carpet) Read a book that involves fashion in some way or a Regency romance that takes place during the Season (where all the fashionable people went).
      8. “Come on down!” (The Price Is Right) Only people who have to count their pennies count the cost. Read a book about a working class hero or heroine.
      9. “It’s gonna be legen — wait for it — dary.” Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris How I Met Your Mother) Mr. Harris is out and proud. Read a LGBTQ romance or a romance based on a legend, fairy tale, classic novel or common romance trope.
      10. “Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman!” — (Adventures of Superman) Read a romance about a pilot/stewardess/travel agent or someone who travels a lot for their job. Or read a book about a hero or someone who performs a heroic job.
      11. “One of these days.” — Ralph, (The Honeymooners) Read a time travel romance.
      12. “The thrill of victory and the agony of ­defeat.” — Jim McKay, (Wide World of Sports) Read a sports romance.
      13. “Danger, Will Robinson!” — Robot, (Lost in Space) Read an action/adventure romance or romantic suspense novel.
      14. “To the Batmobile!” — Batman(Batman) Read a romance about someone who works with cars: mechanic, race car driver etc.
      15. “This tape will self-destruct in five seconds.” — (Mission: Impossible) Read a romance where the characters work for a clandestine agency or private security firm/PI .
      16. “Live long and prosper.” — Spock, (Star Trek) Read a sci-fi romance or a romance where the characters are wealthy or a book with an elderly matchmaker.
      17. “Book ’em, Danno.” — McGarrett, (Hawaii Five-0) Read a romance with h/h who work in law enforcement.
      18. “Just one more thing…” — Columbo, (Columbo) The exceptionally smart and quirky detective, read a romance where the h/h is known for their intellect or originality.
      19. “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” — Jan, (The Brady Bunch) Read a romance about a middle sibling, where the h/h come from a large family or where jealousy plays a role or where the h/h play second fiddle to a more popular sibling/friend or a story about a wingman/ best man/bridesmaid.
      20. “Heigh Ho, Silver, Away!” The Lone Ranger (The Lone Ranger) Read a Western romance or a book with a cowboy, rancher or farmer.
      21. “Rolling Rolling Rolling Keep them doggies rolling, Rawhide!” (Rawhide) Read a book where the h/h have pets or an animal(s) is/are involved in some significant way.
      22. “Who loves ya, baby?” — Kojak (Kojak) Read a secret baby or pregnancy romance or a romance that refers to pregnancy/baby in the title such as Having the Billionaire’s Baby.
      23. “Dy-no-mite!” — J.J.,( Good Times) Read a romance with African American h/h or a romance that takes place in an urban locale.
      24. “Kiss my grits!” — Flo (Alice) Read a romance that takes place in the American south or a book about a waitress/cook/restaurant owner or restaurant worker.
      25. “Good night, John Boy.” — The Walton family (The Waltons) Read a romance that takes place in the 30s-50s or a small town romance, or a book where the h/h works in the news industry or is a writer.
      26. “Aaay!” — Fonzie (Happy Days) Read a motorcycle romance or a book where the h/h is in a gang. Since Happy Days presented an idealized version of the 50s, read an idealistic romance or since Fonzie dropped out of high school read a book about a high school dropout.
      27. “Up your nose with a rubber hose!” (Welcome Back, Kotter) Read a book with a teacher or where the h/h work in a school or work with kids in some way or read a book where the h/h has to go home.
      28. “What’s up, Doc?” Bugs Bunny (Looney Tunes) Read a romance where the h/h work in the medical industry in some capacity.
      29. “De plane, de plane!” — Tattoo,(Fantasy Island) Read a fantasy romance.
      30. “Oh, Goody!” Herman Munster, (Munsters) Read a paranormal romance.
      31. “Well, isn’t that special?” — The Church Lady, (SNL) Read an Inspirational romance.
      32. “That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more!” – Popeye (Popeye the Sailor) Read a book where the h/h are at rock bottom or in a desperate situation or a novel where the h/h is recouping from a lost job, lost career, major scandal etc.
      33. “Good grief.” – Charlie Brown, (Peanuts) Read a sad romance or a romance where the h/h is wrestling with grief.
      34. “And now, here’s something we hope you’ll really like.” – Rocky,(The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle) Read a book from your favorite sub-genre or with your favorite trope.
      35. “Make it so.” — Picard, (Star Trek: The Next Generation) Read a book where the h/h make something for a living.
      36. “Resistance is futile.” — The Borg, (Star Trek: The Next Generation) Read a novel that’s received a lot of press, buzz etc. such as Fifty Shades of Grey or Outlander or that made one of the AAR Top 100 lists.
      37. “Oh, my God! They killed Kenny!” — Stan and Kyle, (South Park) Read a romance that revolves around a murder.
      38. “Will you accept this rose?” — (The Bachelor/The Bachelorette) Read a book with a meet-cute or meet-quirky premise or an arranged marriage book.
      39. “Everybody lies.” — House, (House) Read a book where deception plays a key role, such as a mistaken identity, girl dressed as boy book etc.
      40. “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.” — Coach Taylor, (Friday Night Lights) Read a sweet/heart string tugging type romance.
      41. “Bazinga!” — Sheldon, (The Big Bang Theory) Read a book with a genius or a humorous romance.
      42. “We’ve got a situation.” — Mike “the Situation” Sorrentino, (Jersey Shore) Read a book set around an unusual situation/with a unique plot point.
      43. “Missed me by that much.” Maxwell Smart (Get Smart) Have a book that comes close to one of these categories but doesn’t quite make the cut? Read that book.
      44. “Did I do that?” — Urkel, (Family Matters) Read a romance told from first person point of view.
      45. “Would have got away if it wasn’t for those meddling kids!” (Most Scooby-Doo villains, Scooby-Doo) Read a book where the h/h help catch a villain or bring about justice.
      46. “Th-th-th-that’s all folks!” Porky Pig, (Looney Tunes) Read the last book in a series
      47. “Is that your final answer?” — Regis Philbin, (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?) Read that last book that finishes off the challenge.

    • Maggie Boyd
      Keymaster
      Post count: 66

      Turning 18 years old affords one rights and responsibilities in many societies – some of which you would never think. Buy spray paint? Really? Anyway, for 2018, this is the:

      Rights and Responsibilities Challenge or The R&R Challenge for short! Read 10,12 or 18 books that match the criteria for the challenge.

      1) Ditch your curfew and drive all night.
      Read a romance that involves a road trip, or in which the first meeting or date between the protagonists involves a “one night stand,” or a romance set during a vacation.
      2) Get a tattoo or a piercing.
      Read a romance where one or both protagonists manipulates their body in an unusual way; for instance, is a changeling, a witch, a spirit guide, a time traveler or any other paranormal or fantastical character.
      3) Donate blood.
      Read a romance involving characters in the medical field in which one protagonist or both are doctors, nurses, EMTs, physical therapists, or work in some capacity for a hospital, clinic, or veterinary practice. Or read a romance in which one or both of our protagonists is suffering from an illness or is living with a disability.
      4) Get into extreme sports.
      Read a romance in which one or both of our leads works in any sports field, whether extreme or not. They can be athletes, trainers, managers, agents, coaches, sports medicine practitioners, etc.
      5) Buy fireworks.
      Read a romance involving either love at first sight or immediate dislike. Instant fireworks either way! Or, more prosaically, read a romance involving someone in the firefighting field.
      6) Buy spray paint.
      Read a romance involving a hero and/or heroine who works in the creative arts in some capacity – whether on the stage, the screen, the studio, the printed page, or the canvas.
      7) Buy cigarettes or tobacco.
      Read a romance where a character is saddled with an addiction or is overcoming or has overcome an addiction. Or, read a romance involving someone who lives on a farm, a ranch, or works in any type of agriculture … hopefully growing something healthier than tobacco!
      8) Sue someone.
      Read a romance involving characters in the legal field: lawyers, judges, police officers, detectives. Or read a romance in which one major character is suing another or threatening a law suit or legal action.
      9) Go to adult jail.
      Read a romance where either or both protagonists are being held against their will for some portion of the story, either in a physical sense, i.e., a jail, institution, or house arrest, or in a restrictive relationship, i.e., an abusive, demanding relative or employer.
      10) Be on a jury.
      A jury is a group of people who have to work together. In that spirit, read as many books as you want in a related series of romances involving a group of friends, associates, or family members.
      11) Enlist or be drafted.
      Read a romance in which one or more of the lead characters is in the military. Or read a romance set during a war at any time in history or in any fantastical world, either on the homefront or in battle.
      12) Be a stripper or go to a strip club.
      Read a romance in which one or both of the protagonists is considered to have an “unsavory” profession, pursuit, or lifestyle for their time … or any time. For instance, an actress in the 1800’s, a bootlegger in the 1920’s, a mistress or gigolo, a jewel thief or con artist, a muckraker or gossip columnist. It’s all relative!
      13) Try your luck at the lottery.
      Read a romance in which one or both protagonists works in the gambling industry or is a gambler. Or read a romance in which the hero or heroine has won a prize or has inherited something substantial – like land, a house, or a share of a business.
      14) Work more hours.
      Read a romance set at the work place, whether in an office or other place of business. The protagonists can be co-workers or have a less equal relationship.
      15) Open a bank account. Write a check. Get a credit card.
      Read a romance involving someone of extreme wealth, an heir or heiress or someone with a self-made fortune.
      16) Buy a car.
      Read a romance involving someone who works with vehicles of any type – pilots, racecar drivers, mechanics, chauffeurs, or someone who works with their hands, is in a blue collar profession, or works in tech (IT).
      17) Find your independence.
      Read a new adult romance. Or read a romance where one or both of the protagonists has just broken an engagement, gotten a divorce, or ended a live-in relationship with a significant other.
      18) Adopt a child.
      Read a young adult romance. Or read a romance in which one or both of the protagonists find themselves responsible for a child or children. If you’re into secret babies, here’s your chance to read that book! If you’re into pregnant heroines, feel free to take that book off your TBR pile!
      19) Pawn something.
      Read a romance in which one or both of the lead characters has little money or is in financial difficulties for a portion of the story. This can be an historical in which a titled person must marry for money or a chick lit novel where the heroine is eating ramen noodles every day.
      20) Change your name.
      Read a romance in which a lead character is in disguise, is pretending to be someone they are not, or is just not fully revealing who they are in order to maintain a relationship. Or, in the spirit of Romeo and Juliet, read a romance involving a relationship between two characters who are on opposite sides of feuding/warring families, groups, nationalities, or businesses.
      21) Vote.
      Read a romance involving one or more protagonists who are politicians at any level of government or who work for a cause — like the environment, homelessness, child welfare, abolition, prohibition, or suffrage.
      22) Get married.
      Read a romance set at a wedding or during activities surrounding a wedding. Or read a romance where the hero and heroine get married abruptly, for any reason or for any length of time.
      23) Buy porn.
      Read an erotic romance.
      24) Drink alcohol in most European countries and Canada.
      Read a romance set in Europe or in Canada. Or read a romance in which one or both protagonists works at or owns a bar, pub, brewery, distillery, or vineyard. Or, read a romance in which alcohol fuels the lead characters’ first encounter.
      25) Sign a lease. Sign a contract.
      Read a romance in which at least a portion of the story is told in the style of an epistolary novel. Or read a romance in which one or both lead characters is a reporter, editor, author or works in the publishing field. Or read a romance in which the two lead protagonists enter into any type of contract with each other, including a marriage contract or some other “understanding”.
      26) Get a passport — for 10 years!
      Read a romance involving travel to another country or to multiple countries or worlds by one or both protagonists, whether permanently or not, whether willingly or not.

    • Maggie Boyd
      Keymaster
      Post count: 66

      The Series Killer Challenge- Read 10, 12 or 18 books that are part of a series. They don’t have to be part of the same series but can include books from different series.

    • Maggie Boyd
      Keymaster
      Post count: 66

      I tried many times to paste in the Phonics challenge and the site would not let me. If anyone else can cut and paste it that would be great!

    • Sandlynn
      Participant
      Post count: 92

      I’ve tried to post it a number of times. No dice. It may have to be typed word for word, instead of cut and paste.

    • library addict
      Participant
      Post count: 221

      The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge
      Read 10 or 18 books which fit the following categories:

      • E for entertainment – Read a romance where the heroine and/or hero works in the entertainment industry, e.g. actor, musician, director, make-up artist, producer, etc.
      • I for interconnected – Read a romance that is part of a series.
      • G for goal – Read a romance in which the heroine and/or hero is involved with sports, e.g. athlete, coach, team owner, etc.
      • H for health – Read a romance where the heroine and/or hero is involved with the health services industry, e.g. doctor, nurse, paramedic, physical therapist, etc.
      • T for transfigure – Read a romance where the heroine and/or hero has the ability to shift into an animal.
      • E for education – Read a romance where the heroine and/or hero is involved with education, e.g. teacher, principal, school counselor, etc.
      • E for Europe – Read a romance set in Europe.
      • N for name – Read a romance where the heroine and/or hero’s name begins with the letter R (the 18th letter of the alphabet).
      • I for inspirational – Read an inspirational romance.
      • N for new – Read a romance by a debut author or a romance by any author you haven’t read before. Or read a New Adult romance.
      • E for everyman – Read a romance with a blue-collar heroine and/or hero.
      • I for ignite – Read a “hot” or erotic romance. Or read a romance where the heroine and/or hero is a fireman.
      • G for gourmet – Read a romance in which the heroine and/or hero is a chef, baker, caterer, etc, or owns a restaurant, diner, bakery, etc.
      • H for holiday – Read a romance set during Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas time, or any other holiday.
      • T for time – Read a futuristic or time-travel romance.
      • E for East Asia – Read a romance set in Japan, China, Hong Kong, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, or Mongolia.
      • E for epic – Read a fantasy romance.
      • N for news – Read a romance where the heroine and/or hero is involved with the news industry, e.g. reporter, anchor, newspaper editor, etc.
      • C for critter – Read a romance where the heroine and/or hero have a pet.
      • H for historical – Read an historical romance.
      • A for Australasia – Read a romance set in Australia, New Zealand, or the neighboring islands.
      • L for laughter – Read a humorous romance.
      • L for law – Read a romance in which the heroine and/or hero is involved with the law, e.g. lawyer, judge, police, politician, etc.
      • E for equestrian – Read a romance that features horses.
      • N for neighbor – Read a romance where the heroine and hero are neighbors or a romance where they grew up together.
      • G for guardian – Read a romance where the heroine and/or hero is on active duty with a military, naval, police, or fire-fighting organization. Or read a romance where the heroine and/or hero is a parent.
      • E for enigma – Read a mystery romance or romantic suspense.
    • library addict
      Participant
      Post count: 221

      I guess it didn’t like the emdashes ???

    • Maggie Boyd
      Keymaster
      Post count: 66

      *Shakes head baffled* Dunno. But I tried numerous times and even imported to word, stripped of encoding, copied and tried re-entering and nothing worked. We have it now so we can start fresh on Monday!

    • library addict
      Participant
      Post count: 221

      Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas
      The Snows of Windroven by Jeffe Kennedy:
      This was an angst-filled sequel to The Tears of the Rose (the second book of the earlier series) which tied up the lingering question of how the h/h’s relationship could work given their different statuses. Though the h/h were no doubt in love, the lack of effective communication and the fact he was an ex-convict and she a queen meant there were issues which needed to be dealt with on page. It was also nice to finally get the hero’s POV. The author did a good job of making both characters sympathetic even when they were frustratingly miscommunicating. A lovely story to start the new year.

      • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 1 down, 17 to go…
    • library addict
      Participant
      Post count: 221

      The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge
      E for enigma — Read a mystery romance or romantic suspense.
      Promise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz:
      The h/h both suffered from insomnia and other PTSD-related symptoms from a traumatic incident in their childhood. I liked that these issues were treated as just a part of each of their characters. They had good days and bad days, there was progress and set-backs but it never defined them. The mystery meandered and the romance sometimes took a backseat to the suspense, but overall it worked for the plot. The romance was solid. There was the usual dash of the family drama as well as plenty of humor and a nice cast of secondary characters. Hopefully we won’t have to wait over a year for the conclusion of the trilogy as we did for this second installment. Another enjoyable example of why JAK remains an autobuy author for me.

      E for epic — Read a fantasy romance
      Heart of Fire by Amanda Bouchet:
      I was disappointed in this final book in the Kingmaker Trilogy. I liked both the h/h and their romance in the earlier books, but the hero was given shockingly little to do this time around. Also too many of the world’s rules seemed to shift as needed to move the plot along. The changes were explained on page but still felt like a copout. There were a few parts I enjoyed but overall a very uneven read that seemed to go around in circles. The ending was blandly anti-climactic (can’t say more without major spoilers). I am sad we will apparently not get the hero’s sisters’ stories, particularly Jocasta’s, as well as his brother Carver’s.

      • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 1 down, 17 to go…
      • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 2 down, 16 to go…
    • Sandlynn
      Participant
      Post count: 92

      Starting with The Alphabet Challenge Variation (read 18 books where the title/author name begins with the letter A, then B, C, etc. through R).

      Letter “R” for Alisha Rai

      During last year’s challenge, I read Alisha Rai’s first book in this series, Hate to Want You. This time, I delved into the second book, Wrong to Need You, also published in 2017. And, I have to say, this one is an improvement.

      The plot to Wrong to Need You picks up right after the first book, although I don’t think you need to read the first to appreciate this sequel. The story revolves around Sadia Ahmed and Jackson Kane. Sadia is the widowed sister-in-law of the heroine from Hate to Want You and Jackson is the twin brother of that heroine. So, obviously, Sadia is also Jackson’s sister-in-law. Sadia is from a Pakistani-American family of over achievers. However, she rebelled, left school, married young, and had a child. She now runs her deceased husband’s café, although her heart’s not in it, and she also bartends at night to supplement her income. Fortunately, she has a big enough family – including her former in laws – to help take care of her young son. Jackson – who is part Hawaiian, part Japanese — is the prodigal son of the Kane family, having run off after being accused of arson, even though that accusation was later retracted. He’s back in town to connect with his sister, but he’s never been comfortable at home and is looking for a fast exit. What stops Jackson from hitting the road is Sadia. They were friends when they were children and he always had a thing for her, although he never made that obvious and stepped out of the way when Sadia and his brother, Paul, started dating. He discovers that Sadia’s café is in need of a chef, and it just so happens that he *is* a chef – a very successful one who runs pop-up restaurants around the globe. Before you know it, Jackson is volunteering at Sadia’s café, living over her garage, and finally connecting with his young nephew. Although trying to keep a low profile, his presence stirs up the ghosts of the past in both his own family and that of his deceased father’s former business partner, bringing to light unsavory facts that were buried and feelings he’s had for Sadia. Conveniently – or not – Sadia’s libido is also being stirred by Jackson’s presence. The question is, could there be more between them and can their families accept that?

      While many of the basic details of this story were revealed to us in Rai’s first book, this one does a much better job of laying out the facts in a show, not tell, fashion. The story of the Kane family, their former partners, the Chandlers, and Sadia’s family, the Ahmeds, is laid out much better and is more engrossing here. Plus the protagonists are more sympathetic and vulnerable – especially Jackson. This book is full of relationships and not just sexual ones. Although sexy, the story spends a lot more time on building up the tension, which makes it more meaningful to the reader when Sadia and Jackson finally connect. The story also does a great job with other relationships, especially between Sadia and her four sisters. All in all, I liked this second book better than the first. I’d give it an A-, with a slight subtraction for some unnecessary character traits that made no sense to me, e.g., Sadia is bi-sexual? Why, when that never really factored in the story?

      *****
      The Alphabet Challenge Variation – 1 down, 17 to go

    • library addict
      Participant
      Post count: 221

      The Alphabet Challenge Variation
      A =About That Kiss by Jill Shalvis:
      I had mixed reactions to this book. On the one hand, I liked the h/h and enjoyed their bantering and romance. On the other, I was never sure if were meant to treat the “suspense” elements seriously or not. The hero and his coworkers seemed to have an 80s TV action star affliction where they were injured on one page and then magically healed by the next chapter. The resolution to the mystery subplot felt disappointing (won’t say more to avoid spoilers). There was only one conflict keeping the h/h apart so their internal monologues often felt repetitive. Plus the conflict seemed dragged out with both characters making decisions seemingly more for plot purposes. There was a lot of humor and surprisingly little angst despite some heavy baggage. The h/h had a nice chemistry. Overall a fun read, but with plot issues.

      • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 1 down, 17 to go…
      • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 2 down, 16 to go…
      • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 1 down, 17 to go…
    • Sandlynn
      Participant
      Post count: 92

      Continuing with The Alphabet Challenge Variation (read 18 books where the title/author name begins with the letter A, then B, C, etc. through R).

      Letter “D” for Dating-ish

      For letter “D,” I decided to see what many were raving about and pulled out Penny Reid’s Dating-ish published in 2017. (I previously read her book, Neanderthal Seeks Human, which I gave a B+. I liked it enough to seek Reid’s other work out.)

      This book has been ably described in the AAR review posted here: https://allaboutromance.com/book-review/dating-ish-by-penny-reid/. However, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much. I can see what the reviewer sees in the story. It’s certainly very different and I appreciated all of that. In fact, I will list the things I liked about it first and then mention what made this less enjoyable for me.

      What I liked: I really enjoyed the two main characters and their courtship story. Matt, the hero, was adorable and Marie, the heroine, was smart enough to fall for him pretty quickly. Neither of these people were stupid, they just didn’t reveal enough to eliminate all doubts about each other … and of course if they did, the story would be very short. I loved their banter and I understood their insecurities. Another thing I loved was the opening of each chapter, which featured a little abstract about a real — I think — AI development that was fascinating. I was also interested in Matt’s research, which we only really hear about rather than “see.”

      What I didn’t like as much: I wasn’t as thrilled about something which I probably should’ve expected, i.e., the tired trotting out of a group of couples who are all beautiful, accomplished, terribly in love and protective of their women. The couples who are all friends. In regencies, these are the “secretive spy club,” “the devilish dukes,” “the penniless sisters,” “the wallflower duchesses.” I am not a fan of those series of books, nor am I of the contemporary version. I don’t mind stories about the different couples, but bringing them all together and having them interact was insufferably cutesy and confusing. They are all so similar — to me — that I had difficulty telling them apart. Can’t they have friends who are not all the same? Different ages, shapes, sizes, sex preferences, and ethnic backgrounds? You know, like real life in the city of Chicago. As for my second turn off — I guess this is more personal — but I found some of those practices Marie was trying out for her article to be downright creepy! Cuddling? Okay. That’s nice. But dry humping (isn’t that basically lap dancing?) and orgasm meditation?! Geez! I don’t know. And, to tell you the truth, the fact that the author did not have the characters actually go through with either of the latter in the story should tell us something, huh?

      In any event, I don’t know. The book clearly is very different. I liked much of it, but I didn’t love it. “B-“?

      *****
      The Alphabet Challenge Variation – 2 down, 16 to go (R, D…)

    • library addict
      Participant
      Post count: 221

      The Alphabet Challenge Variation
      D = Dark in Death by JD Robb:
      Even after well over twenty years this series remains a read on release day must for me. The case wasn’t all that compelling, but the personal interactions between Eve and Roarke and Eve and the rest of the supporting cast made this one of the more enjoyable books of late. There were some unexpected developments for Nadine who has always been one of my favorite characters and it will be interesting to see where things go from here. While not quite an instant favorite, definitely in the top half of the series.

      • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 1 down, 17 to go…
      • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 2 down, 16 to go…
      • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 2 down, 16 to go…
    • Sandlynn
      Participant
      Post count: 92

      Onward with The Alphabet Challenge Variation (read 18 books where the title/author name begins with the letter A, then B, C, etc. through R).

      Letter “L” for Christina Lauren

      For letter “L,” I’m reading a story that my book group chose for this month, Christina Lauren’s “Dating You, Hating You,” published in 2017. Fortunately, I really enjoyed it.

      This is basically a work romance. It’s set in Los Angeles — Tinseltown specifically — although there’s not much glamour or star power here. The hero and heroine are rival talent agents, each attached to a prominent company in the business. We see them — unglamorously — doing their jobs as they navigate the office and gender politics of this cutthroat business. I have to say, I really felt like we were there in Southern California, in their world and I even tried checking to see if the authors are from there, they did it so well. Although our protagonists meet off-site, at a friend’s party, they soon learn they are in the same biz and, before long, actually working in the same company competing for the same position. This leads to comic moments, as they try to sabotage each other, but it also leads to some real life angst that grounded this story. The supporting characters are also well-drawn. Their evil boss is a little over the top. But their friends and colleagues were so distinct that I was rooting for many of them as well, especially the hero’s brother, a rock photographer with an artist’s heart. (Will he have his own story?)

      I’ve had this prejudice against authors who write together under one name, feeling like what they gain in collaboration, they lose in a distinctive voice. But, I was wrong here. I would never have been able to tell two authors are behind this work, it read so seamlessly — although they did shift chapters from hero to heroine which probably helped.

      Finally, this story has been compared to 2016’s breakout hit, The Hating Game, but to be honest with you, I like this one better. Because of some of the serious issues it tackled — in this time when women are finding their voice — it just seemed more au courant while also being humorous. I’d give it an “A.”

      *****
      The Alphabet Challenge Variation – 3 down, 15 to go (R, D, L …)

    • Sandlynn
      Participant
      Post count: 92

      Continuing with The Alphabet Challenge Variation (read 18 books where the title/author name begins with the letter A, then B, C, etc. through R).

      Letter “J” for Eloisa James

      For letter “J,” I decided to read Eloisa James’ latest book, Wilde in Love, published in 2017.

      This story focuses on Lord Alaric Wilde who has been traveling the world, having daring adventures and writing about them which has made him a celebrity in his home country of England. Alaric’s travels, however, are not solely about adventure. He appears to be escaping a sad event in his life — the unfortunate death of a beloved older brother. Upon Alaric’s return to England and his rather large family, he unexpectedly meets a young woman who is a part of his society and is unique — she, Miss Willa Ffynche — has no interest in his fame and, in fact, is put off by it as she treasures her privacy and her more normal, quiet life. Of course, Willa is a part of the house party Alaric’s father throws, and Alaric and Willa are thrown together. Will Alaric be able to convince Willa that he also craves the normalcy that she prefers? Will Alaric’s legion of admirers undermine his goal, especially a particular woman who has made it her business to highlight his “infamy” and put herself foremost in the picture?

      Anyway, Eloisa James’ books have always been hit or miss with me. In this case, the book is more a miss than a hit. The problems I had were that the villainess started out to be quite interesting, but eventually ended up being the usual over-the-top, crazy other woman. The fact that she kept coming back, like The Terminator, really made me wonder about the intelligence of the people trying to keep her restrained. Take a woman scorned seriously, people!

      The other thing that was less enjoyable was the fact that almost all the activity occurred at one house party. Literally the setting never varied and I was disappointed that we never got a full feel for Alaric’s fame because he was, almost entirely, on his father’s estate. It just seemed that the plot was just stalled on that damn estate, with the cutesy animals, and somewhat claustrophobic. I would give this a B-, maybe even a C. What started out being a very interesting premise just boiled down to the same old, same old.

      *****


      The Alphabet Challenge Variation – 4 down, 14 to go (R, D, L, J …)

    • library addict
      Participant
      Post count: 221

      The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge
      G for guardian — Read a romance where the heroine and/or hero is on active duty with a military, naval, police, or fire-fighting organization. Or read a romance where the heroine and/or hero is a parent.
      Kansas City Cop by Julie Miller – heroine is a police officer:
      I had issues with the fact the hero was the heroine’s physical therapist as them becoming involved goes against the code of ethics. The mystery subplot was intriguing, but the fact the heroine was investigating her and her partner’s shooting while on medical leave and the hero was helping her kept throwing me out of the story. Especially because the cops in charge of the investigation did not mind. The heroine’s family problems too often felt forced, but I liked them even if they weren’t fully developed characters. I wish we’d seen more of the secondary romance with the hero’s business partner. I enjoyed parts of the mystery, but overall a disappointing read.

      The Catchphrase Challenge
      “Live long and prosper.” Spock, (Star Trek) – Read a sci-fi romance or a romance where the characters are wealthy or a book with an elderly matchmaker.
      Mateer by Veronica Scott – sci-fi Romance:
      The heroine woke up on an unknown planet horrified to find herself considered nothing but a lab rat to be experimented on by alien “scientists.” The hero was the second-in-command to the previous book’s hero. He broke into the facility where the heroine was being held and was none too happy about becoming a prisoner again after a few brief weeks of freedom. Once he met the heroine he decided she was his mate, but was understanding that she wasn’t too keen on the idea. The alien bad guys were the usual proverbial mustache-twirling evil, but that actually worked for the plot. There was more emphasis on the romance than in the previous book. I liked the h/h both individually and as a couple. Sections of the story seemed too contrived and there wasn’t much forward progress to the ongoing story arc but overall an enjoyable read.

      • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 1 down, 17 to go…
      • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 3 down, 15 to go…
      • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 2 down, 16 to go…
      • The Catchphrase Challenge: 1 down, 17 to go…
    • library addict
      Participant
      Post count: 221

      The 21st Century Challenge
      2001 = Harmless Error by Kate Donovan (published Oct 2001):
      It took me weeks to finish this book. I started it thinking it would be a romantic comedy but it opened with the trial of a child’s murder. The hero was overbearing. I realize this was an older book, but the way the hero’s mentor and others talked about the heroine was off putting. The heroine was judgmental and constantly jumped to conclusions. It didn’t help matters that the plot was so convoluted and eye roll inducing. I should have DNF’d but despite not buying into the romance I wanted to see how the “mystery” plot resolved. There were a few parts where I had hoped the book would get better, but they never lasted. Overall I wanted my time back and am mad at myself for having kept reading instead of just flipping to the end. Very disappointing.

      • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 1 down, 17 to go…
      • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 3 down, 15 to go…
      • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 2 down, 16 to go…
      • The Catchphrase Challenge: 1 down, 17 to go…
      • The 21st Century Challenge : 1 down, 17 to go…
    • Sandlynn
      Participant
      Post count: 92

      Continuing with The Alphabet Challenge Variation (read 18 books where the title/author name begins with the letter A, then B, C, etc. through R).

      Letter “A” for Acting on Impulse

      For letter “A,” I decided to read Mia Sosa’s, Acting on Impulse, published in 2017. Sosa is a new author to me and I have to say, I’m looking forward to picking up another of her stories in the future.

      Acting on Impulse begins on an airplane, making its way from Philadelphia to Aruba. Our heroine, Tori Alvarez, is a Philly fitness trainer who – on impulse – decides to take a short vacation after a public break-up with a boyfriend who is a former Olympian and a city councilman. To say the least, having any future relationship in the public eye is not for her. Our hero, unfortunately, is in the public eye, in a much bigger way than boyfriend #1. Carter Stone is a romantic comedy, sit-com actor who recently lost a lot of weight for a “serious” role and is hiding out in Philly trying to get his health back, maintain a low profile, and prepare for a press junket. Carter’s decision to take a time-out in Aruba also involved escaping recent unwanted publicity, after a doctor who had been monitoring his health sold the photos to a tabloid causing Carter to go ballistic. Tori and Carter “meet” on the plane and later in Aruba. Because he’s using his real name (Carter Williamson) and looks a bit like an emaciated drug addict, she doesn’t recognize him and he, enjoying the company of a woman who isn’t into him for his fame, delays relaying the truth. Of course, that bites him on the butt as Tori eventually realizes he’s been lying. Back in Philadelphia, Tori wants to have nothing to do with Carter, but Carter uses his need to get back into peak physical condition to pursue Tori as a trainer via her two bosses who own the gym she works from and are thrilled to have a celebrity as a client. Thus begins Tori and Carter’s burgeoning relationship.

      This story is about two people who have been burned in the past and are not as confident in their own skin as one might expect. Tori, who is also dealing with some estrangement from her Puerto Rican roots and her family’s reluctance to compromise their ways in order to move forward, is gun shy over a relationship that might swallow her whole and be more about PR than honest feelings. Carter – although seemingly more assured about Tori’s genuineness – is also skittish, since he’s been used in the past. Also, he’s dealing with a crisis of confidence in his work, as he’d like to take on more serious roles and get the respect he thinks he doesn’t have, but is having difficulty getting critical acceptance. So, this story does a good job of presenting these two as fully realized characters who don’t waste too much time doubting each other. The unlikely coincidences in the beginning of the story – him being in Philly and them both going to Aruba – are fortunately left behind. I also was surprised that the Philly entertainment media wasn’t as intrusive as I would’ve expected. But, I did love that the story was set in Philly – my hometown (or close enough) – and appreciated the diversity that being in a big city provided, from Tori’s Puerto Rican family to her African American boss. It was refreshing. I would give this story a B+.

      *****


      The Alphabet Challenge Variation – 5 down, 13 to go (R, D, L, J, A …)

    • Sandlynn
      Participant
      Post count: 92

      Onward with The Alphabet Challenge Variation (read 18 books where the title/author name begins with the letter A, then B, C, etc. through R).

      Letter “G” for Jasmine Guillory

      For letter “G,” I read a book that was chosen by my book group, Jasmine Guillory’s The Wedding Date, published in 2018.

      This book has received a lot of advance attention and AAR even reviewed it twice, giving it rather average ratings. You can find the reviews here:
      https://allaboutromance.com/book-review/the-wedding-date-by-jasmine-guillory/
      https://allaboutromance.com/book-review/the-wedding-date-by-jasmine-guillory-2/

      Since both reviewers did an excellent job of describing the plot, I will skip that part of my comments and go right into my own views on the story.

      For me, I’m closer to the AAR reviewers’ grades of “C” and “C+” then I am to my book group members’ opinions which seemed much more positive. I just felt that Guillory’s overall story was kind of pedestrian. While our heroine, Alexa Monroe, was more fully realized, the hero had very little depth. We know nothing about his family and we know nothing about why he had such a fear of commitment. He just appears to be a serial monogamist, whose relationships, by design, only last a couple of months, period. It was hard, for me, to root for this couple when I just didn’t feel that the hero was written with enough substance to deserve her.

      The second thing that puzzled me was that this book focuses a good deal on this couple conducting a long distance relationship — with an emphasis on booty calls — without actually being very explicit about the booty. Now, I don’t need my sex scenes to be explicit and, in fact, I’ve become bored with many of these scenes in other books that are added “just because.” However, this story literally brushes over almost every single engagement, and there are a number of them! Others in my book group agreed with this observation and someone brought up that, in an interview, the author commented that her story was originally much sexier. However, her publisher asked her to tone it down. We surmised that the reasoning behind this was that the publisher wanted this book to appeal to a wider audience — a woman’s fiction as well as romance audience — and so the typical sexier elements you might find in a romance novel of this type were missing. I wonder if they’ve succeeded? For me, I’m not likely to be interested enough to read another book by this author unless she either builds up the plot/characters outside of the bedroom, makes the bedroom scenes more interesting, or ideally both. The Wedding Date has its moments, building up the heroine’s backstory and work issues and introducing the hero’s emotional connection to his patients, but they were not developed enough to override the lack of interest elsewhere.

      Maybe the author has to decide what type of book she wants to write and fight for it. I’d give this a B-/C.

      *******
      

The Alphabet Challenge Variation – 5 down, 13 to go (R, D, L, J, A, G …)

    • library addict
      Participant
      Post count: 221

      The 21st Century Challenge
      2002 = A Noble Pursuit by Meg Lacey (published Feb 2002): The h/h had a one-night stand before he knew she was related to the man he was investigating. The heroine continued to lie when they met again. When she learned he was an undercover cop, she took umbrage that he was using her conveniently forgetting all of her own lies and the fact she had been using him to have an adventure. The plot was paint-by-numbers and the heroine’s brother got off way too easy. The wrong person did the groveling at the end. A very frustrating read.

      2003 = The Street Where She Lives by Jill Shalvis (published Oct 2003): I wanted to like this book, but couldn’t. The heroine had told the hero she didn’t love him and asked him to leave and was mad because he did. Fast forward thirteen years and he came back to town at their daughter’s request to care for the heroine as she recovered from a hit-and-run. There were major issues with the heroine’s unrealistic recovery. The plot had everything and the kitchen sink. The suspense plot had a horribly anticlimactic ending. I can’t list other complaints without major spoilers. I would have thrown the book at the wall if I had been reading a print edition and not digital. The characters and story had so much potential and ended up being such a disappointment.

      2004 = Storm of Seduction by Cindy Gerard (published May 2004): The hero started off as a condescending jerk. Thankfully he eventually got over himself. The heroine was a wildlife photographer. The hero was the CEO of a publishing empire. There were issues with the quasi-bear sanctuary plot, but I liked the heroine. I also had a few qualms with the compromise at the end of the story as I thought one of the characters conceded much more than the other. Some enjoyable parts and a lot of humor, but overall an average read.

      2005 = Her Good Fortune by Marie Ferrarella (published Feb 2005): The heroine was supposedly very close to her family, yet her mother didn’t know she was an alcoholic. The hero’s fiancée had died nearly twenty years ago while driving drunk, so he’d closed himself off emotionally. He and the heroine started on the wrong foot. I know we were supposed to find his attitude amusing at times, but he had a tendency to be very condescending and made a lot of assumptions which weren’t funny. The author did a good job of making me dislike each of them on the other’s behalf so the idea it was all really love at first sight just didn’t wash. The plot had them often trapped together to force them to interact, everything from a car accident to a blackout which caused the elevator to conveniently stop working. All of which made me doubt they would have a conversation if left to their own devices. But ultimately my main issue with this book was the behavior of the heroine’s mother and the hero’s father. Again we were supposed to find their matchmaking efforts amusing, but I really wanted the h/h to announce they were leaving the country with no forwarding address to get away from their horrible meddling.

      • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 1 down, 17 to go…
      • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 3 down, 15 to go…
      • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 2 down, 16 to go…
      • The Catchphrase Challenge: 1 down, 17 to go…
      • The 21st Century Challenge : 5 down, 13to go…
    • library addict
      Participant
      Post count: 221

      The Alphabet Challenge Variation
      C = Covert Game by Christine Feehan:
      The GhostWalkers remain my favorite series of Feehan’s even though I am not as invested in the later teams as the first two. After some much needed story advancement in the previous book, this book had a silly plot without any movement in the overall story arc. I liked the heroine, but the hero’s attitude that other women were all just gold diggers he used for sex reflected poorly on him. There were numerous sections with graphic violence that went on for entirely too long without contributing much to the plot. I would be interested in reading the leader of team four’s story, but I am pretty much over the rest of his team. The h/h’s romance felt like a repeat of others in the series. I enjoyed parts, but overall an uneven read.

      • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 1 down, 17 to go…
      • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 3 down, 15 to go…
      • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 3 down, 15 to go…
      • The Catchphrase Challenge: 1 down, 17 to go…
      • The 21st Century Challenge : 5 down, 13to go…
    • library addict
      Participant
      Post count: 221

      The 21st Century Challenge
      2006 = Eternal Nights by Patti O’Shea (published Aug 2006):
      I read the first book in this series for the 15 in 2015 challenge. Not sure why I let this one languish in my TBR for so long. The secondary couple from book one appeared again to resolve their storyline. There was also a small glimpse of the main couple from the previous book. The hero remembered his past life on the alien planet, but the heroine did not. The story bounced back and forth between the various characters which caused some pacing issues. Often the resolution to one of the jams the h/h found themselves in felt a bit deus ex machina, but that was a minor quibble. I enjoyed the main romance more than the dream flashbacks of their previous life, but I appreciated the emphasis that they were now very different people. I was very happy to get more of the secondary romance even with the OTT angst.

      Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas
      The Troll Bridge by Patti O’Shea:
      This short novella read more like an excerpt than a complete story. The h/h spent an afternoon together so the quasi-HFN was more appropriate than a HEA. The previous books involved psychic abilities and reincarnations so the time-travel element didn’t bother me. It was the fact the author made absolutely no attempt to resolve unanswered questions, simply had the hero tell the heroine they’d figure something out (trying not to be too spoilery, but sheesh!). A very dissatisfying conclusion to the series.

      • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 2 down, 16 to go…
      • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 3 down, 15 to go…
      • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 3 down, 15 to go…
      • The Catchphrase Challenge: 1 down, 17 to go…
      • The 21st Century Challenge : 6 down, 12 to go…
    • Sandlynn
      Participant
      Post count: 92

      Continuing with The Alphabet Challenge Variation (read 18 books where the title/author name begins with the letter A, then B, C, etc. through R).

      Letter “N” for “Not a Mistake”

      For letter “N,” I read a book that was unusual on a couple of levels — at least for me. The book I chose was Amber Belldene’s Not a Mistake (Hot Under Her Collar – Book One) published in 2016.

      What’s unusual about this book is that both the hero and heroine are Episcopal priests. Oh, and its author is also an Episcopal priest! Now, that doesn’t mean the story is an inspirational or even deals with spiritual issues, per se. In fact it’s main focus are moral issues both personal and professional. Also, it has very sexy moments.

      This book has a mini-review here on AAR. So, I don’t know that I really need to provide a lot of details about the plot. Basically, however, the heroine has had a crush on one of her professors from seminary school. He’s a handsome man, a priest himself, and somewhat rigid in this beliefs. He also investigates ethical infractions by other priests. After graduation, our heroine, Jordan, is celebrating with her classmates and they invite Professor Dominic Lawrence along. Later that evening, Jordan and Dominic have a romantic hook-up that ends up producing an unexpected consequence — a pregnancy. This pregnancy could torpedo both their careers. Jordan has just gotten a job as a priest to a small congregation in Santa Cruz, California, and Dominic is up for a promotion in the church. How can they reveal their relationship? Should they? Each face their own moral and ethical dilemmas which are impacted by Jordan’s congregants as well as Dominic’s troubled past and his current investigations.

      This story feels very genuine. The people here are not morally pristine. But they are good people facing problems. The characters’ professions and situations made this a unique read, but the underlying plot would be recognizable to any romance reader. I have to admit, even though I am not a very religious person, it felt a little weird, at first, reading about the sex lives of two priests written by a priest, but it just reinforced that people who hold such positions also have personal lives and desires and may not always do the right thing. I enjoyed it, would give it a B+, and look forward to Belldene’s other books. (I did want to know exactly what Dominic was doing professionally at the end of story. It wasn’t quite clear to me.)

      *******
      
The Alphabet Challenge Variation – 7 down, 11 to go (R, D, L, J, A, G, N …)

    • library addict
      Participant
      Post count: 221

      The 21st Century Challenge
      2007 = Don’t Let Go by Sydney Somers (published May 2007):
      The h/h were both after the same guy: the hero as a private investigator hired to prove he was cheating on his wife, the heroine because he’d bilked her mother-in-law out of her life savings. The suspense plot was dull and used as a flimsy excuse to force the h/h to spend time together. It was odd that their families had a centuries-old feud yet neither knew who the other was, but at least the issue was addressed on page. The heroine jumped to a number of conclusions and it was difficult to buy into her justification for lying. I also had issues with the hero, particularly for a plot point that was played for laughs, but wasn’t funny. Some nice moments but overall a lackluster read.

      The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge
      I for interconnected — Read a romance that is part of a series.
      Whatever It Takes by Sydney Somers – book 3 in Spellbound series:
      The h/h had eloped after a whirlwind romance four years earlier and the heroine was justifiably irate that the hero had then disappeared with only a note asking for a divorce. That didn’t stop the sparks from flying when they met again and she was dragged into his world of shadowy espionage. The hero had always regretted leaving. The author did a good job of making the h/h each sympathetic, demonstrating how they’d changed and why things would be different this time around, all essential elements for a believable reunion romance. There was also a fun secondary romance with the heroine’s brother and their company’s receptionist. I wanted more of both couples. By far my favorite of the series.

      The Alphabet Challenge Variation
      M = Must Be Magic by Sydney Somers:
      This was another reunion romance. I liked the h/h, but their only issue was a lack of communication so too much of the conflict in the second half felt manufactured. The author seemed to adjust the rules of her magic worldbuilding to prevent the secondary characters from finding the h/h after their plane crashed which felt like a cheat and added to the sense of contrived drama. It didn’t help that the h/h took so long to have a heart-to-heart conversation. An uneven but still likable read.

      • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 2 down, 16 to go…
      • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 4 down, 14 to go…
      • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 4 down, 14 to go…
      • The Catchphrase Challenge: 1 down, 17 to go…
      • The 21st Century Challenge : 7 down, 11 to go…
    • library addict
      Participant
      Post count: 221

      The Shoe Challenge
      Athleisure – Fashion sportswear that is inspired by both athletic and leisure elements. Read a book where the h/h work in the leisure industry (hotel, vacation planner, tour guide etc)
      The River House by Carla Neggers – heroine runs a party planning business:
      The h/h had been BFFs until a falling out three years prior to the start of the story. The hero had always wanted out of their small town but was at loose ends after selling his latest start-up company. The characters from the previous books in the series either put in an appearance or they were all mentioned—complete with a mini-synopsis of how they met—which led to too much info-dumping, but at least the hero acknowledged it. Even though this series is set in a small town I have always liked that the big city is not treated as bad. The heroine had moved back simply because it was a more affordable place to live. I liked the h/h as a couple, but the book was not one of my instant favorites.

      Riding boots – Horse racing is the sport of kings. Read a book where the h/h is a member of the nobility.
      Ivan by Kit Rocha – heroine is a princess:
      Though set in a post-apocalyptic world, much of this story took place in what amounted to a Regency-like house party: mothers and chaperones vying to grasp the most advantageous marriage for their children and not above using them as political pawns. I did get lost trying to keep the extended family connections straight. I read the earlier books in this series, but I was never quite sure what was supposed to be common knowledge vs newly revealed information since I did not read the original series. The romance between the h/h, filled with a balance of angst, humor, and joy, made the book for me. An enjoyable read.

      • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 2 down, 16 to go…
      • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 4 down, 14 to go…
      • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 4 down, 14 to go…
      • The Catchphrase Challenge: 1 down, 17 to go…
      • The 21st Century Challenge : 7 down, 11 to go…
      • The Shoe Challenge: 2 down, 16 to go…
    • library addict
      Participant
      Post count: 221

      The 21st Century Challenge
      2008 = Par for the Course by Jenna Bayley-Burke (published July 2008):
      The heroine had a crush on the hero while he was in college and she was in grad school. They’d shared one kiss at a party. Years later she had bleached her hair and wore colored contacts to disguise herself when she set up an interview at his golf resort to write a magazine article on how golf courses were the hot new singles scene. The set-up made little sense other than to give the heroine a reason to dress in disguise at the start (though it was explained in more detail late in the story). The h/h each repeatedly jumped to erroneous conclusions. The subplot involving the hero’s brother and father was meant to give the hero other issues to deal with but bored me. The hero was a passive-aggressive creep right up to the end. The h/h needed professional counseling, both individually and as a couple. The female owner of the neighboring golf resort was by far my favorite character. A very disappointing read.

      2009 = Love Me Tomorrow by Dee Tenorio (published Feb 2009): The hero started as a self-centered jerk who had broken up with the heroine years before. When she’d started dating his bff he guilted them both until they broke up. The bff was killed in a fire and the town blamed the heroine. There were too many scenes from the villain’s POV and his identity was obvious. It was frustrating that the h/h refused to have an honest conversation at the start. I liked the heroine. Thankfully the story vastly improved in the second half.

      2010 = Doctoring the Single Dad by Marie Ferrarella (published Mar 2010): The pediatrician heroine repeatedly thought how most fathers were inept at taking care of infants. She also talked a lot about her other patients. All of which we were meant to find amusing, but kept throwing me out of the story. Several of the circumstances that caused the h/h to spend time together felt manufactured as did their breakup near the end. The heroine’s matchmaking mother was annoying. Despite the numerous plot issues I liked the h/h.

      • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 2 down, 16 to go…
      • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 4 down, 14 to go…
      • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 4 down, 14 to go…
      • The Catchphrase Challenge: 1 down, 17 to go…
      • The 21st Century Challenge : 10 down, 8 to go…
      • The Shoe Challenge: 2 down, 16 to go…
    • Sandlynn
      Participant
      Post count: 92

      Next up in The Alphabet Challenge Variation (read 18 books where the title/author name begins with the letter A, then B, C, etc. through R).

      Letter “B” for “Louise Bay”

      For letter “B,” I picked up Louise Bay’s The British Knight, published in 2017. Apparently, this book had at least two previous sequels as I was reading about this author’s other work, I recognized some of the supporting characters in The British Knight. That being said, you definitely don’t need to read those books to appreciate this one.

      This book was reviewed by AAR and was given an A. So, I was really looking forward to it. You can find the review here: https://allaboutromance.com/book-review/the-british-knight-by-louise-bay/

      Mostly, I agree with the review. This book features two interesting characters who are compelling separately and who challenge each other together. The heroine is an American, living in NYC, who had studied at MIT and was starting a software business with her boyfriend when the jerk, not only cheated on her, but literally stole the company from beneath her (which actually made me wonder about her intelligence, but I guess that’s love). She’s been licking her wounds and floundering ever since, when she’s offered an opportunity by her sister’s sister-in-law to work and spend time in London. She arrives and begins a job as an Administrative Assistant in the chambers of a prestigious law office. In particular, she’s assigned to work for a brilliant, rising barrister who is also a workaholic who will let no one near his cases. Soon, she is using her aggressive persistence to not only whittle down the hero’s lone wolf defenses, but to get under his skin personally. But, of course, our heroine has defenses too and those are being whittled away as well.

      I enjoyed this story very much and am interested, now, in going back and reading the previous stories involving the supporting characters. The only reason I would not give the book an A is 1) I couldn’t figure out why the heroine (Violet) had been so stupid in the first place — that was just never explained here since she seemed to be such a savvy woman. Maybe we needed a chapter on that — and 2) I thought the ending of this book was a little too convenient. A colleague just happened to know of a position at Columbia University for our hero? The hero and heroine are going to have a bi-continental life? If they have children, that definitely wouldn’t work out. I would give this story a B+/A-.



      ******


      The Alphabet Challenge Variation – 8 down, 10 to go (R, D, L, J, A, G, N, B …)

    • library addict
      Participant
      Post count: 221

      The 21st Century Challenge
      2011 = Deadly Dreams by Kylie Brant (published Apr 2011):
      Each year I pick one author from my TBR I am woefully behind on and this year I chose Kylie Brant. I read the previous book in this series way back in 2010 (eek!). There were a number of plot elements introduced that didn’t really go anywhere and there were issues with some of the secondary characters being more caricatures than fully formed characters. The romance felt rushed, but that fact was addressed on page so the HEA was believable. There were significant developments in the overarching storyline regarding the heroine’s boss. But the focus of the book was very much the serial killer case the h/h were investigating. The heroine and her journey back to trusting herself made the book for me.

      2012 = Holiday Affair by Annie Seaton (published Mar 2012) : The h/h met while she was on vacation and had a one-night stand. When she returned home she discovered that not only was he the brother of one of her guy friends who suddenly wanted to discuss marriage, but also a new professor in the history department where she was a professor, and her new neighbor. The hero was a condescending jerk and treated the heroine terribly through most of the story. There wasn’t nearly enough groveling or effort on his part to change his behavior, he just suddenly decided it was true love and…blah! Even though the plot and hero did not work at all for me, I enjoyed the settings and liked some of the supporting characters so I would try this author again.

      • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 2 down, 16 to go…
      • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 4 down, 14 to go…
      • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 4 down, 14 to go…
      • The Catchphrase Challenge: 1 down, 17 to go…
      • The 21st Century Challenge : 12 down, 6 to go…
      • The Shoe Challenge: 2 down, 16 to go…
    • library addict
      Participant
      Post count: 221

      Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas
      Long Ride Home by Elizabeth Hunter:
      Many characters were mentioned and there were more questions than answers, but this novella was a nice introduction for the series. I really liked the deceased husband.

      The 21st Century Challenge
      2013 = Shifting Dreams by Elizabeth Hunter (published Aug 2013) :
      Three years in book time had passed since the introductory novella. The heroine was reluctant to get involved. The hero had been hired as chief of police and quickly realized the townspeople were all keeping secrets. I knew from the blurb there would be a murder, but the victim took me by surprise. I understood why the town wanted the hero kept in the dark, but I sympathized more with his POV. The romance took time to develop. I loved the relationships the hero built with the heroine’s sons. I had quibbles with the way some events were glossed over but overall a very enjoyable read.

      Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas
      Five Mornings by Elizabeth Hunter:
      This novella gave more background on characters we met in book one who will be the h/h of book two. It made it clear that their break-up was a result of communication issues and they were each equally responsible. It would not work as a stand-alone, but I appreciated the extra insights.

      The Catchphrase Challenge
      “What’s up, Doc?” Bugs Bunny (Looney Tunes) – Read a romance where the h/h work in the medical industry in some capacity.
      Desert Bound by Elizabeth Hunter – heroine is doctor:
      This book delved into the complicated relationships between the various families in town. The conflict between the h/h felt forced as it was one-dimensional. I had issues with the way the h/h were both derisive toward certain characters. Even though we didn’t get to know him well, I really liked the murder victim and was sad he was killed. The mystery was intriguing and I enjoyed the exploration of the h/h’s differing family dynamics as well as the set-up for the next book.

      • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 4 down, 14 to go…
      • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 4 down, 14 to go…
      • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 4 down, 14 to go…
      • The Catchphrase Challenge: 2 down, 16 to go…
      • The 21st Century Challenge : 13 down, 5 to go…
      • The Shoe Challenge: 2 down, 16 to go…
    • library addict
      Participant
      Post count: 221

      The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge
      T for transfigure — Read a romance where the heroine and/or hero has the ability to shift into an animal.
      Waking Hearts by Elizabeth Hunter – heroine is a fox shifter, hero a bear shifter:
      This couple intrigued me from the moment they were hinted at in book one. The heroine was reluctant to get involved as she was going through a divorce after her husband had abandoned her and their children, working two jobs, and felt she had nothing to give. The hero had been in love with her since high school. They took things slow which was frustrating at times but fit their characters. There was the usual dose of humor. I found it odd that the revelation from the previous book was not addressed at least by the heroine in an internal monologue or something (trying not to be spoilerish). We were left with numerous loose ends in the overarching plot so I’m hoping the author eventually returns to this series (it’s currently on hold according to her website). My favorite of the series.

      The 21st Century Challenge
      2014 = His Taste of Temptation by Cathryn Fox (published Nov 2014):
      The hero was attracted to the heroine but erroneously thought she was involved with his younger brother who was her bff and roommate. This misconception took too long to clear up. The way they got together the first time was improbable and silly. I wished they’d simply had an honest conversation. The heroine had self-confidence issues so repeatedly reminded the hero their relationship was only temporary. The hero felt unworthy to be with her. I found it odd there were apparently no zoning restrictions in the town. I liked the h/h, but the characters deserved a better plot.

      2015 = Alec’s Royal Assignment by Amelia Autin (published Aug 2015): The hero started off as a jerk who thought he was enlightened but his thoughts and actions made it clear he thought of women as lesser. The heroine was a royal bodyguard trying to prove women belonged in the royal family’s personal guard. When she foiled an assignation attempt the hero inserted himself into the situation despite not being part of the protection detail. When it finally seemed he would step up he then changed his mind because his job was the most important thing to him. Of course things worked out that he didn’t have to actually sacrifice anything. The hero was exceedingly annoying, but I liked the heroine. She deserved so much better. An extremely disappointing read.

      • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 4 down, 14 to go…
      • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 5 down, 13 to go…
      • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 4 down, 14 to go…
      • The Catchphrase Challenge: 2 down, 16 to go…
      • The 21st Century Challenge : 15 down, 3 to go…
      • The Shoe Challenge: 2 down, 16 to go…
    • Sandlynn
      Participant
      Post count: 92

      Continuing with The Alphabet Challenge Variation (read 18 books where the title/author name begins with the letter A, then B, C, etc. through R).

      Letter “C” for Alyssa Cole

      As our April selection, my book group decided to read Alyssa Cole’s A Princess in Theory, published in 2018. So, that fit perfectly within the parameters of this challenge.

      I was very interested in reading this book since I heard the author speak at an event, and the AAR reviewer gave the story a solid “A”. Since it was reviewed here – see the following link, https://allaboutromance.com/book-review/a-princess-in-theory-by-alyssa-cole/ — I don’t think I need to go into too much detail in describing the story’s set-up. The plot bears some similarity to the movie Coming to America starring Eddie Murphy, and I’m sure having the book released at the same time the blockbuster, Black Panther, is also in theaters has got to be fortuitous!

      The story involves a New York City graduate student in epidemiology who was orphaned as a child and can’t remember much about her past. Naledi’s been mostly making it on her own with only her best friend, a waitressing gig, and a research internship as her support system. Little does she know, a country in Africa has been long seeking her whereabouts, as she is the long lost betrothed of the country’s prince. Once Prince Thabiso and his assistant track Naledi down, they try and suss her out without telling her who they are. The first part of the book involves them trying to figure out what she knows, while Naledi grows increasingly intrigued by this stranger who doesn’t quite fit into the starving student lifestyle. As the pair get closer, the question becomes when will Thabiso tell Naledi the truth and will she agree to return to her native country, Thesolo.

      I would have to say that I mostly agree with the “A” rating. This book is pretty solid. I thought Naledi was a great heroine and loved that she was a woman of color in a STEM field. The author does a credible job making Naledi believable – so much so, I checked out Cole’s bio to see if she also has a background in science. (She was a science editor, apparently.) I enjoyed many of the supporting characters and – for once – wouldn’t mind reading a sequel or two focusing on them – especially since a few loose ends in the story are left unexplained. So, I’d be interested in seeing if they are answered in follow-up books. The only downside was that I thought the conclusion was a bit rushed, with some key confrontations accomplished “off stage.” I also felt the villain was a bit obvious, making the latter part of story not as strong as the beginning. I would give this book an A-/A. And, I’m definitely looking forward to the next one in the series.

      ******


      The Alphabet Challenge Variation – 9 down, 9 to go (R, D, L, J, A, G, N, B, C …)

    • library addict
      Participant
      Post count: 221

      The 21st Century Challenge
      2016 = Lonen’s War by Jeffe Kennedy (published July 2016) :
      Many of the rules of this fantasy world weren’t fully explained. The h/h were both thrust into ruling via a war between their peoples and the fact their fathers and older brothers were soon killed. The heroine had grown up isolated and clueless to the atrocities committed against the hero’s kingdom. The story definitely benefited from having both the h/h’s POVs. This book was mainly set-up with the eventual romance hinted at but far from the focus. There was a set of cartoonishly evil villains as well as a multitude of other opportunistic characters out for power. An intriguing start to this series.

      The Shoe Challenge
      Mary Jane – Read a book with a name in the title, that is part of a series based on siblings/family members or that involves young girls in some way.
      Oria’s Gambit by Jeffe Kennedy – heroine’s name part of the title:
      The h/h agreed to enter into a marriage in name only so the heroine could ascend the throne and protect both their kingdoms. Their burgeoning relationship was complicated by the fact the heroine could not be touched by anyone except her mother. The hero was determined to somehow make their marriage real. They each started mistrustful of the other but they made an effort to really talk and worked on becoming a team. I appreciated that the plot didn’t rely on any big misunderstandings. The villains were still somewhat one-dimensional. Overall an engaging read with some interesting plot twists.

      Synthetic – Many shoes are made of manmade materials these days. Read a book that is “fake” in some way, such as a fantasy, sci-fi, or alternate history romance.
      The Tides of Bára by Jeffe Kennedy – fantasy:
      Picking up where the cliffhanger ending in the last book ended, the h/h went on the run. The heroine’s dragon familiar continued to provide both wise counsel and comic relief. The hero’s horse was a welcome addition. Unlike the previous book, several misunderstandings were allowed to fester simply to provide conflict between the h/h. Thankfully that didn’t last too long. While there were a few surprising twists mostly this was a bridge book to set up the next phase of the overall storyarc.

      The Catchphrase Challenge
      “De plane, de plane!” Tattoo,(Fantasy Island) – Read a fantasy romance.
      The Forests of Dru by Jeffe Kennedy:
      The hero’s people, particularly one of his brothers, were reluctant to trust the heroine with some believing she’d cast a spell on him. So more political intrigue, this time set in the hero’s kingdom. The h/h were back to working as a team and discussed their problems. My favorite of the series so far. Hopefully the author will soon write more as there were many plot threads left dangling.

      • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 4 down, 14 to go…
      • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 5 down, 13 to go…
      • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 4 down, 14 to go…
      • The Catchphrase Challenge: 3 down, 15 to go…
      • The 21st Century Challenge : 16 down, 2 to go…
      • The Shoe Challenge: 4 down, 14 to go…