I have always loved libraries, but I admit I had fallen out of the habit of using my local one recently. One of my dear friends is a middle school librarian and she (appropriately) shamed me a bit for it, telling me the best way to make sure libraries stay around and keep their funding is to use them. So, a few months back, I started building weekly trips to my local temple of knowledge into my schedule and added a particular challenge to myself. I would walk directly to the New Releases section and pick up the first book by an author I didn’t recognize.

This has led to some real gems (Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinsborough was one) and some duds (which I will leave out for politeness). I told the AAR Staff about my new project and several of them jumped on board, saying it sounded like a great challenge. So many other staffers joined me, in fact, that we’ve decided to make it a regular blog.

The parameters of the project are fairly simple: you must read one book by a new-to-you author, either one you’ve never heard of or one you’ve been meaning to get to, and give it at least fifty  pages. For AAR, our additional rule is that the book involves women; written by one or has one as a protagonist. How you acquire the book is up to you; library, bookstore, TBR pile that is threatening to overrun your house. Just make sure you haven’t read the author before.

First up, myself, Shannon, and Lisa report in on our experiments! As always, if this is something that tickles your fancy, we’d love to hear about your findings in the comments section.


The Turncoat by Donna Thorland

Genre: Historical Romance

Basic Plot Summary: When Major Lord Peter Treymayne crashes to Kate Grey’s life, she’s a Quaker colonist and he’s a Redcoat. Where they go from there, however, changes the course of history.

What drew you to the book? Well, like most of America last summer, I was on a Hamilton binge. Plus, living about two miles from where Washington crossed the Delaware River on that fateful Christmas Eve makes me always intrigued by Revolutionary War books. Combine those two elements, and when I saw this on a Barnes and Noble clearance table, I snatched it. It’s been languishing on my TBR pile ever since, when I picked it up for a recent flight.

How much did you read? The whole thing, even though it was slow going at times.

What kind of reader would like this book? Fantastic question. It’s not a traditional historical romance, as there are significant portions of this book that read more like a treatise on spycraft than a romance. However, there is enough of a romance between Kate and Peter, complete with the real elements which would keep them apart, that fans of suspenseful historical romances will find lots to love here. Plus, anyone on a similar Hamilton kick will enjoy A. Ham’s appearances.

Buy Now: A/BN/iB/K


The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Basic Plot Summary: The Arrangement tells the story of Lucy and Owen, an upper middle class couple who decide to make their marriage an open one for six months. It’s an experiment of sorts, one they enter into with very firm rules and expectations and at the end of the six months, they will never speak of the arrangement again. Of course, nothing goes as planned, and Lucy and Owen are forced to question everything they thought they knew about themselves and their relationship. The story also focuses on several other couples who live near Owen and Lucy whose lives and relationships undergo some radical changes over the course of the novel.

What drew you to the book? I’d heard a lot of buzz about Sarah Dunn’s writing, but went into this book without much knowledge of the plot. I don’t usually read this way, but I thought it would be interesting to choose a book I knew very little about and read through it without many expectations of what it would be like. This particular novel turned out to be a bit too much like a soap opera for my taste, but I imagine it would appeal to readers of lighter women’s fiction. The book isn’t totally fluffy, but it’s a lot less intense than my usual reading fare. The characters are well-drawn, and the author does touch on some controversial topics, but there was an element of lightness throughout the story that didn’t appeal to me all that much. Still, I have to admit that it was nice to read something different for a change. Ms. Dunn is a talented writer, and I’d definitely consider reading something else of hers if the synopsis intrigued me.

How much did you read?  All of it

Buy Now: A/BN/iB/K


Duke With Benefits by Manda Collins

Genre: Historical Romance

Basic plot summary: Lady Daphne Forsythe, co-heiress to a fortune in scientific manuscripts as well as a mansion, must share a house with her co-heirs for a full year while slowly falling for her late benefactress’ nephew.

What drew you to the book? The plot summary really grabbed me; I tend to pick books from those versus the cover art.

How much did you read and why? The whole thing, because I was reviewing it for the site and it turned out to be quite good!  (You can read Lisa’s full review HERE.)

What kind of reader would like this book? Anyone who really loves romantic mysteries, smart heroines and interesting puzzles to solve alongside their romances!

Buy Now: A/BN/iB/K


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Voracious reader, with a preference for sassy romances and happily ever afters. In a relationship with coffee, seeing whiskey on the side.