bookstack It seems hard to believe but one year ago Rike, Cindy, and I took over the task of updating the Special Title Lists after they had been untouched for nearly three years.

Since then we’ve updated or created 29 lists. We’ve encountered some unanticipated problems such as inconsistencies or overlapping lists, unclear definitions, and a few clearly misplaced titles. But more than the problems, we’ve had a great deal of fun exploring these lists and learning about some new titles in our own favorite categories. This morning we’re pleased to announce that thanks to you, two more Special Title Lists have been revised and are now available for you to check out: Older Couples and Big City Contemporary Romances.

Older Couples: This list was last updated in September of 2009 and we’re happy to add 47 new titles to the list. This list is divided into sections based on the age of the couples (30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s and older). We changed the requirements slightly with the description now stating that contemporary romances will only be listed if both the hero and heroine are 40 or older. By definition this means that all new submissions in the 30-something category are historical romances. We asked for your advice as to where to place titles if the couple spanned two decades (for example the heroine is 46 and the hero is 51) and went with your suggestion that we place the couple in the decade of the youngest of the pair. The new titles range from a book published in 1987, The Gamble by LaVyrle Spencer, to Lauren Willig’s 2013 release of The Passion of the Purple Plumeria in which longtime secondary character Miss Gwen gets her own love story.

Big City Contemporary Romances: This is a new list that was begun through requests for suggestions here in posts on May 9th and 31st. Your initial comments gave the list a great start and once we opened it for new submissions last month you sent in some wonderful additional suggestions (and also corrected a few goofs I made in interpreting your comments). We now have titles listed under 18 different cities in the U.S. (16 set in New York and 12 in Chicago), six European cities (eight titles each for London and Paris), three in Asia, three in Australia and New Zealand, and one in South America. We’re still missing romances set in what I think are some interesting cities both in North America (Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto, and Mexico City) and Europe (Athens, Dublin, Madrid, and Brussels to name just a few). Hopefully by the time we update this list again we’ll have other cities to add to the list.

Because this is meant to represent big cities, I had to set a cut-off point in terms of population. Admittedly any cut-off point is arbitrary. If you live in a small community of 1,000, a city of 30,000 may seem like the big city. And if you live in Tokyo, a city the size of Austin may seem quaintly small. I thought briefly about going with a minimal population of a million but finally went with 500,000. This eliminated a few submissions, but not many. I also carefully read reviews of any titles submitted which were written before 1990. If more recent reviews indicate that the descriptions of the big city were outdated and didn’t resemble the city as it currently exists (most notably a few 1980s books set in Detroit) I didn’t add them to the list. Again, this may seem arbitrary; in five years a “current” description of Austin may seem outdated. But if a book already feels incredibly dated now, imagine how it will seem by the time this topic rotates back for updating again?

Thanks again for all of your submissions. Sadly, personal difficulties have at times led us to move more slowly than we would like with this project. One of those periods will be coming up over the next few months when Cindy and I turn our complete focus to the Top 100 Poll. But we’re pleased that Rike is going to carry on with the Special Title lists until the rest of us are able to return to it in November. So check back here tomorrow to see which three Special Title Lists will be opened for new submissions.

– LinnieGayl Kimmel, Rike Horstmann, and Cindy Smith

Lynn Spencer
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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.