newimproved This morning we’re pleased to announce that thanks to you, four more Special Title Lists have been revised and are now available for you to check out: Nerds & Absent Minded Professors; Bluestockings, Independent Misses, and Feminists; Beauty is in the Eye; and Unrequited Love.

Nerds & Absent Minded Professors
: We added 13 new titles to this list. You suggested a few new contemporary heroes, but the majority of our new nerds and absent-minded professors can be found in European historical romances. One of the nominations – Christian Langland from Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm – generated a lot of discussion amongst AAR staff members. We finally concluded that while he might not appear like a nerd on the surface, Christian Langland is a mathematical genius who is a bit of a closet nerd, and was added to the list with that descriptor.

Bluestockings, Independent Misses, and Feminists: What seemed like a very simple list proved to be incredibly difficult to revise. This list was originally an offshoot of the Nerds & Absent Minded Professors list. At some point it was separated from that list and in addition to bluestockings, the descriptor of “Independent Misses and Feminists” was added. While this addition isn’t particularly problematic in historical romances, it’s very difficult to capture in contemporary romances. Additionally, what makes a heroine a “bluestocking” in a historical romance could be commonplace in a contemporary romance. As we began reviewing some of the contemporary titles on the list it became clear that some were on the list simply because the heroine had more education than the hero. While these are good candidates for the Opposites Attract list, they don’t really fit the definition of bluestocking or intellectual. In a time when over 30 percent of women in the U.S. have at least a baccalaureate degree, simply having an undergraduate degree isn’t enough to be classified as a “bluestocking”, or intellectual, anymore.

Then there’s the issue of “Independent Misses.” While it might be unusual in a Regency-era romance for a heroine to express independent thoughts or to start her own business, these are the norm for contemporary heroines(at least one would hope.) We ended up removing a few, clearly misplaced contemporary romances from the list. We also modified the description of the list to more clearly capture the differences between contemporary and historical heroines. In the future – perhaps as early as this summer – we plan to split the list into two separate lists. The first would be Bluestockings and Intellectual Heroines and would encompass all genres. The second would be Early Feminists and Independent Misses and would include only historical romances.

Beauty is in the Eye: We can only read so many romances where the heroine and the hero are the absolute epitome of perfection in beauty. Let’s face it, even the most beautiful people feel like they have flaws and maybe they do but this list was created to celebrate those heroes and heroines who do not meet their time’s standards for beauty. The update started easily enough until we found some cross over with the Disabilities in Romance list. Physical disabilities were supposed to be on the that list but heroes and heroines with scars were on the Beauty is in the Eye list. Then we discovered the duplicates.

Basically, 7 titles nominated this time around were better suited to the Disabilities in Romance list and were added there, and we hopefully cleaned up most of the duplicates. In the end, 34 new titles were added to the Beauty is in the Eye list. Scarred heroes and heroines stayed on the Beauty is in the Eye list but most of the new additions to this list were those H/H who were plain or homely.

Unrequited Love: This list surprised us by how popular it proved. No less than 52 new titles could be added! We were very pleased with the wide variety of the titles nominated, which include young adult and male/male romances. They range from Kristan Higgins’ The Best Man and Shannon Stacey’s All He Ever Dreamed, which were only published early this year, to 1970s classics The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough and Alinor by Roberta Gellis, to two Georgette Heyer novels we’d missed so far (Friday’s Child and A Civil Contract). Special mention goes to Sherry Thomas, who in the Fitzhugh Trilogy has written about a set of three siblings so utterly fascinating that each of them is loved unrequitedly over many years. These were your, the readers’, favorites: Each of them received several nominations, in one case as many as six.

Thanks again for all of your submissions. Check back here on June 10 when additional Special Title Lists will be opened for new submissions.

– Cindy, Rike, and LinnieGayl

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I enjoy spending as much time as I can between the covers of a book, traveling through time and around the world. When I'm not having adventures with fictional characters, I'm an attorney in Virginia and I love just hanging out with my husband, little man, and the cat who rules our house.