Since we started updating the Special Title lists in 2012 we’ve asked AAR’s readers to tell us which lists they would like updated first. We’ve taken your priorities to heart and have gradually been working through your favorite lists. We’re now down to the lists that very few readers listed as their favorites. Needless to say we were nervous when we opened the latest five lists for updating; would anyone submit titles? Our worries proved groundless. Once again, you’ve submitted lots of great titles.
With a picture from the movie Romancing the Stone topping the Adventure Romance list it was easy to think of this list as a rollicking good time. In updating the list it became quite clear that many AAR readers enjoy all kinds of adventure including serious, death-defying antics, which has given this list some heft. Anne Stuart’s On Thin Ice from 2012 is a prime example of the kind of titles that can be found in the Contemporary section. Many of the romances here are tense and sexy and not to be taken lightly, and somehow that makes the romance even sweeter if not bittersweet with the possible loss of friends or family. Meanwhile the historical shows us the adventures of the past with new lands being investigated and tamed by those with brave hearts (Only His (1991) by Elizabeth Lowell). And thankfully publishing has started to embrace stories of people who had a more worldly experience and even traveled to remote places like South American or India (Not Quite a Husband (2009) by Sherry Thomas).
The Secondary Romance list came together slowly but surely as there is a fine balance an author has to navigate to make a successful secondary romance work. Too little character construct and boring interplay can cause a reader to hate those chapters that leave the main couple off fending for themselves while being forced to catch up with a couple that has little to no spark. In the other extreme, you have your secondary characters leap off the page and the reader may only finish the book to satisfy a hopeful HEA for the delightful secondary couple while not giving a fig for the main protagonists. We are hopeful that the updated list with its 30 new titles will strike the perfect chord – a compelling central story with a memorable secondary romance that keeps the reader satisfied from beginning to end. The Nonesuch (1962) by Georgette Heyer is one of six new titles published before 2000 and would have been eligible for the list on the very first rotation.
The Point of View list has expanded by 21 new titles. This list comprises first person POV primarily which lets the reader observe a relationship from one person’s perspective. This can feel limiting in a romance so it is not a surprise that many of the new titles are either mysteries or Chick-lit. The Lady Darby mystery series begun in 2012 by Anne Lee Huber, the 2012 release of I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella and Airs Above the Ground published in 1965 by Mary Stewart are all new to the list.
When talking about fine lines the Held Captive list is another category that needs precision when dealing with weighted balance of power that favors the one in charge. This list deals with the Hero or Heroine holding their future love captive. Fall too heavily into the prisoner having no power and then falling in love with his/her abusive and manipulative captor, and the specter of Stockholm Syndrome takes over. Clearly it takes a skilled author to manage the pitfalls to this theme and we are hopeful that the latest 18 additions will highlight the best this category has to offer. From the 1919 title The Sheik by E.M. Hull to the latest published romance like Darlene Marshall’s The Pirate’s Secret Baby from 2014, the additions come from almost every decade of romance.
The Imprisoned! list had the greatest growth in this round of updating with 57 new titles being added. This list doesn’t just cover false imprisonments but the loss of personal freedom from a variety of sources including a person’s own lack of judgment. The crimes covered on this list are not paltry but include cases of murder (The Perils of Pleasure (2008) by Julie Anne Long and Lady Luck (2012) by Kristen Ashley) and espionage (No Longer a Gentleman (2012) by Mary Jo Putney). The list also includes people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time and thus were captured by terrorists (To the Brink (2006) by Cindy Gerard) or held as a POW by the enemy (Whispers in the Dark (2012) by Maya Banks and the historical Untamed (2008) by Pamela Clare), while some were sent to insane asylums (A Company of Swans (2006) by Eva Ibbotson). This list encompasses so many types of imprisonment that we believe AAR readers will have plenty of great options to choose from.
Thanks to all of you who submitted titles to the list. Look for more lists to open in mid December and then again in February, once we finish with the Annual Poll.
– Cindy Smith, LinnieGayl Kimmel and Rike Horstmann