A Letter from Marianne Stillings

Dear AAR Readers:

I’ve asked Laurie to post this note so I can have a chance to say good-bye to you all. The end of 2002 marks the end of my reviewing days here at AAR. I’ve been with the site since it’s inception five years ago and have written over 200 reviews; I just can’t leave without saying so long.

Because I’m going to be pursuing a writing career of my own, I feel it would be inappropriate for me continue reviewing. To my mind, that would constitute a conflict of interest, and I never want the integrity of my reviews, or of AAR, called into question.

When I first began reading romance novels, I was ecstatic to find a site that offered honest analysis and opinions about the huge number of books available each month. I wanted to be a part of what I considered a viable service to readers. Over time, I have occasionally been shocked to hear accusations that AAR reviewers are nothing more than a covey of unprofessional frustrated mean-spirited writer wannabes. As a former insider at AAR, I want to state that nothing could be further from the truth.

Readers and authors have no idea how much thought goes into each review, and how each reviewer agonizes over posting a negative one. Each book we open, we hope will be a DIK. If the reality falls short of that, then we feel obliged to say so, just as we would if you were our next-door neighbor and we were chatting (as Laurie likes to say) over the back fence. I have never worked with a group of people more dedicated, more thoughtful, or more honest in my life than those here at AAR (and in case you need a credibility check, in Real Life, I have been a technical writer/editor for the past fifteen years).

The term “professional” in the Real World simply means that a person gets paid for whatever he/she does. The fact that the staff at AAR does not get paid, but writes reviews as a service to the genre’s many readers, should make it obvious how dedicated they are to helping you make an informed choice. If AAR were a monthly magazine delivered in print format, it would undoubtedly get the respect it deserves, but the fact that it’s an online publication doesn’t detract a bit from the quality of its reviews and articles, or the sincerity of its staff. And, it’s free, delivered on a daily basis. Is life good or what?

I’ll miss being a part of the AAR Family more than I can say, but it’s time for me to move on. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my reviews as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them, and I wish you all, and Laurie and the staff at AAR the very, very best.

Be well and happy —
Marianne Stillings

Click here for a March 2003 update on Marianne!

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