Meet Managing Editor/Senior Reviewer Blythe Barnhill  Blythe’s Top 10 Romance List
About Me Personal Reading Tastes

I’ve been reviewing and editing for AAR since 1998, and I absolutely love my job. My favorite authors have shifted quite a bit since I first started. Right now I enjoy Meredith Duran, Carla Kelly, and Courtney Milan. Older favorites include Diana Gabaldon, Mary Balogh, and Mary Jo Putney, and I still keep current with all the J.D. Robb books. Though I read primarily romance now, I take a break every month and read something more literary for my book club. I’m also a huge Harry Potter fan and am liking J.K. Rowling’s new mysteries.

When I’m not reading, reviewing, or “managing,” I am usually busy with my four children. When I started reviewing the youngest wasn’t even born. Now my boys are in high school, my girls are in college, and I spend a lot of time at track meets and band concerts. I also work full time as a manager for Athleta – I like to say that I tell people what to wear and what to read. When I’m not reading, writing, working, or sitting at a track meet, you can find me running or practicing yoga.

What I’m a sucker for in a book: First-person point of view, Regency house parties, heroines married or engaged to “the wrong man,” Colonial America/Revolutionary War settings, friends who fall in love, good “guy speak,” spy heroes, bluestocking heroines, Regency governesses, and poor relations.

What I don’t particularly care for in a book: Mistress plots, cross-class romances in historicals, bizarre will stipulations, baby/pregnancy plots, anachronistic language, and heroines in historicals who jump into bed without considering the reproductive consequences.

What drives me absolutely nuts in a book: Illogical plots, one-sentence paragraphs, obvious/simplistic writing that spells out every detail for you, Big Misunderstandings that could be solved with a five minute conversation, wounded heroes/heroines that spend the entire book wallowing in self-pity, gross historical errors, and werewolf or vampire romances.

Favorite Romance Novels

Absolute Favorite

Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh

Favorite Classic

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Favorite Short Stories

Just Curious (Simple Gifts) by Jude Deveraux
The Christmas Ornament (A Regency Christmas) by Carla Kelly

Romance Authors Favorite Characters

All-Time Favorite Romance Authors

Diana Gabaldon
Mary Balogh
J.D. Robb

Best Discovery/Buried Treasure Author

Dana Ransom/Rosalyn West

My Biggest Glom

Mary Balogh
Carla Kelly

Author I Have Given Up On

Julie Garwood
Suzanne Brockmann

Authors Others Love That I Don’t

Linda Howard and almost any paranormal author

Favorite Hero

Jamie Fraser, Outlander
Rogan Sweeney, Born in Fire
Wulfric Bedwyn in Slightly Dangerous

Favorite Heroine

Catherine Melbourne, Shattered Rainbows

Most Tortured Hero

Michael Kenyon, Shattered Rainbows
Samuel Gerard, The Shadow and the Star

Strongest Heroine

Eve Dallas, In Death Series by J.D. Robb

Favorite Couple

Catherine Melbourne and Michael Kenyon, Shattered Rainbows
Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall, Outlander
Wulf and Christine in Slightly Dangerous

Best Villain

Tyler Fairfax, from Rosalyn West’s Men of Pride County Series

Favorites by Plot Type Favorites by Mood


Over the Edge by Suzanne Brockmann
Carnal Innocence by Nora Roberts

Cabin or Road:

Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase


Nobody’s Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips


Over the Edge by Suzanne Brockmann
Rapture in Death by J.D. Robb

Comfort Read Author(s):

Nora Roberts
Julia Quinn

Most-Hanky Reads:

Always to Remember by Lorraine Heath
Shattered Rainbows by Mary Jo Putney

Guilty Pleasure:

Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught

Favorites by Sub-Genre


Wicked by Jill Barnett

Traditional Regency:

The Notorious Rake by Mary Balogh

European Historical:

Shattered Rainbows by Mary Jo Putney
Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh
Wicked Becomes You by Meredith Duran

American Historical:

I Do, I Do, I Do by Maggie Osborne
The Beloved One by Danelle Harmon


Born in Fire by Nora Roberts
Over the Edge by Suzanne Brockmann

Alternate Reality:

The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon


Get Lucky by Suzanne Brockmann

Least Favorites

Most Disappointing Book

The Burning Point by Mary Jo Putney

Worst Book

The Last Male Virgin by Katherine Deauxville
The Great Baby Caper by Eugenia Riley

Most Annoying Lead Character

Michel des Anges, The Lover
Dr. Peter Havistock, The Last Male Virgin

Purple Prose-iest Book

The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

Non-Romance Favorites

Favorite Author

Barbara Kingsolver
Elizabeth George (older books)

Favorite Book

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Possession by A.S. Byatt
Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Favorite Classic Novel

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Favorite Mystery

The Lynley Mysteries by Elizabeth George

Favorite SF/Fantasy

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Favorite Women’s Fiction

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Favorite YA Book

Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery
Amanda by Candace F. Ransom
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Favorite Set of Connected Books

The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon
The In Death Series by J.D. Robb
The Anne Series by L.M. Montgomery
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Book Most Often Reread

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery
Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh
Innocent in Death by J.D. Robb

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