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Today, Romance Writers of America (RWA), the trade association for romance fiction authors, announces the finalists for the 2019 RITA. The RITA — the highest award of distinction in romance fiction — recognizes excellence in published romance novels and novellas.

Every year, AAR looks at the RITAs to see which books we reviewed and whether or not we gave those books high marks. We’ll be updating this post throughout today and tomorrow and we’d love to hear your take on the nominees!

Here’s the link to the RWA page where they are releasing the nominations–they only put up a nomination after having spoken to an author. RWA says all the books will be on this page by 2pm CST.

We have created a 2019 Amazon RITA storefront where you can see all the books and their ebook prices. Please consider shopping with us–it’s all that keeps us online!

Julia Broadbanks reviewed Maria Vale’s The Last Wolf for AAR. She gave it a B+. In her review she wrote:

Maria Vale’s The Last Wolf is not at all what I expected. I thought I’d get a fast-paced, spicy shifter romance, much like others I’ve loved. This book, this heroine was unexpected.

In all the right ways.

Shifters and werewolves are different in this world. A werewolf must turn into a wolf during the full moon. Shifters can turn into a wolf but aren’t bound to the form three days a month and are therefore freer to participate in the human world – at least on the fringes. This difference has led to the evolution of two different societies and never the twain shall meet.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/Apple Books/Kobo

Caz reviewed Mia Vincy’s A Wicked Kind of Husband and gave it an A-. She wrote:

The author has managed to put her own spin on a very well-worn plot device, bringing a degree of unpredictability to her story that enables it to transcend the trope.  Her writing is intelligent and energetic, and the story is by turns funny, poignant, sexy, angsty and, most importantly, romantic.

With that said, the book does have a few flaws; Lucy’s antics are a bit over the top and there’s some anachronistic dialogue and behaviour in places, but otherwise, A Wicked Kind of Husband is one of the best historical romances I’ve read all year; a sparkling début that’s landed Mia Vincy very firmly on my list of authors to watch.

Buy it at: Amazon

Maria Rose gave Stephanie London’s Bad Bachelor an A.

As the story progresses we learn a little bit more about Reed’s rocky relationship with his father and why he’s wary of getting too deep into a relationship. We also find out that Darcy has her own complicated history with her family, including a stepfather with whom she doesn’t get along, a judgmental mother who sees Darcy’s body modifications as a personal affront, and a half-sister who by comparison, can do no wrong. When Darcy finds herself confiding in Reed about her family issues, and Reed shares his worries about his father, it cements their growing friendship and emotional connection. Eventually they both have to decide whether what they’re building is worth pursuing when the fundraiser is successfully completed. Along the way, Reed also makes some surprising findings about the origins of the dating app that have caused him so much grief.  Bad Bachelor is more than just a fun and sexy romantic comedy. It’s got a depth of emotion and heart that make it a thoroughly entertaining and thought provoking read.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/Apple Books/Kobo

Em so loved Kate Clayborn’s Best of Luck that she gave it a rare A+!

From the moment Alex and Greer were first introduced in Beginner’s Luck, it was clear they were destined for each other.  It’s been a delicious tease witnessing the tension between them – the thrum of attraction that’s marked each of their encounters – wondering how the author planned to bring them together.  Ms. Clayborn brilliantly maneuvers the pair into each other’s orbit and everything about their relationship feels natural, right and wonderful.  The novel works for many reasons, not the least of which is the author’s obvious affection for her principal characters and the friends and family that comprise their world, and I was wholly invested in this story from start to finish.  I enjoyed each of the previous Chance of a Lifetime novels, but Ms. Clayborn simply outdoes herself in Best of Luck.  I laughed, I cried, I sighed.  And then I read it again and laughed, cried and sighed all over again.  It’s a tremendous conclusion to an already terrific series.  I’m sad to say goodbye.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Em (and Dabney and Dabney’s basketball loving spouse) all adored Kennedy Ryan’s dark but rewarding Long Shot.

It’s swoony and sexy and lovely and romantic and totally worth the journey.  But yes, Long Shot makes readers work hard for that HEA.  It’s harrowing and awful before it’s lovely and wonderful, and all those bits in between will rock your world.  Everything about Long Shot – from the characters, to the plot, to the happily ever after – is utterly absorbing, and the story will stay with you long after you finish it.  Sports fans, romance fans… read this book.  It’s tremendously well done.

Buy it at: Amazon

Em gave a B+ to Luck of the Draw, book two in Kate Clayborn’s Chance of a Lifetime series. RITA judges clearly really liked this contemporary romance series!

Luck of the Draw is a lovely, heartwarming and gentle tale of forgiveness.  I wasn’t crazy about the plot contrivance that brings the principals together, but the novel slowly grew on me.  Poignant, romantic and charming, Luck of the Draw proves Ms. Clayborn is no one-hit-wonder and that luck has nothing to do with her talent.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/Apple Books/Kobo

Several of the AAR staff thought Melt for You by J.T. Geissinger was a winner. Em reviewed it and gave it an A.

One of the pleasures of reviewing books for All About Romance is the opportunity to interact with readers. Recently, one of them recommended Melt for You by J.T. Geissinger.  I’m familiar with the author – I’ve read two of her earlier books, including the Slow Burn novel that precedes it.  I liked, but didn’t love, either of them.  I downloaded this one anyway and it languished in my TBR pile… until I recently picked it up on a whim and OMG, I couldn’t put it down.  It’s wonderful on so many levels, and if you haven’t read it, you’re absolutely missing out.  Charming, meaningful, laugh out loud funny, sweet, sexy and smart, Melt for You is the best contemporary romance so far this year….

I don’t know how to convey to you just how much I loved this delightful book, so let’s just say it’s my favorite of the year.   I’m convinced every romance reader on earth should read it and tell their friends to read it and love it as much as I do, because Melt for You will make you melt for it.  I promise.

Buy it at: Amazon

The post RITA Nominees! Which Ones Have You Read? appeared first on All About Romance.

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There’s something comforting about picking up a romance knowing that it contains a favorite plot trope. When I’m feeling generally frazzled and irritated at the world, I like to pick up a book with a plot that I know signals “comfort read” to me. So, for this month’s TBR Challenge, Lynn went with a “second chance at love” story while Caz opted for a governess romance (and it’s a gothic!). What are your favorite plot tropes?

A Game With One Winner by Lynn Raye Harris

I always love the favorite tropes prompt because it invites me to dive into my category romance stash. This time around, I went for a second chance at love story. A Game With One Winner is a 2013 release by Lynn Raye Harris. Since it’s Harlequin Presents, this iteration of the story gets the glitz, glamour and drama treatment – which mostly works, except when it veers headlong into one of my least favorite tropes of all time.
Caroline Sullivan-Wells and Roman Kazarov had a smoking hot romance four years prior to the action in this book. Things went well until Caroline inexplicably broke off the relationship and abruptly married another man. Roman, who had come from a working-class Russian family, lost his visa and his job. He returned to Russia never fully knowing what had happened.
Four years later, Roman’s hard work and business acumen have paid off, earning him a career as a successful businessman. His current target is the chain of department stores owned by Caroline’s family. The recently widowed Caroline is convinced that Roman’s play for Sullivan’s is some form of revenge for her rejection.
Since this is Harlequin Presents, the initial meeting between Caroline and Roman shouldn’t be too surprising. They’re so hostile I expected them to arch their back and hiss at each other and yet, there’s also plenty of tension and sexual awareness packed into the scene. Caroline notes that Roman is “still incredibly handsome…with dark hair and the kind of chiseled features that made artists itch to pick up their palette knives and brushes.” Roman, for his part, is so taken by Caroline that he pretty much drops his girlfriend of the moment right on the spot. In Harlequin Presents land, readers will know that the battle is joined and these two are fated to  be together.
There is so much drama. On the one hand, it makes perfect sense. After all, Caroline dumped Roman for no well-defined reason. Then poor Roman pretty much lost everything by dating the boss’s daughter and having it not work out. And I’m not even getting into the boatload of secrets these two, especially Caroline, are keeping. However, if you like your romances full of tension and melodrama, this one will be a fun read for you.
As one would expect from Harlequin Presents, Roman is overbearing and Caroline is passionately drawn to him even though she obviously has some issues to work out before they can have any kind of successful relationship. Throughout the story, Caroline is trying to save the stores which are her family’s heritage and Roman is obviously out for a takeover. Watching the two go from working at cross purposes to actually having real conversations and working as a team served as an effective plot throughout the story because the progress of their business relationship fairly closely tracked the progress of their romance. I found the combination pretty hot, I must admit.
So, why isn’t this a DIK? Well, one of the big plot points in this book revolves around the revelation(not a spoiler – it comes early in the book and readers who are paying attention will guess it even earlier) that Caroline was pregnant with Roman’s child when she broke up with him. And I am SO not a secret baby fan. The secret baby in this book is handled better than most, meaning there was a plausible reason for Caroline not to tell Roman about the baby  at least at first. In addition, the child comes into the story at various points and is likable. However, the secret baby drama just didn’t catch me at the same level as all the other battles of wills going on in this book.
A Game With One Winner is a fun afternoon read. While I couldn’t handle a steady diet, I do have a certain fondness for the occasional Harlequin Presents and this one works far more than it doesn’t.

Grade:     B                      Sensuality: Warm

~ Lynn Spencer

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Lady of Mallow by Dorothy Eden

The theme for this month’s TBR Challenge is “favourite trope”, and I fancied a good, old-fashioned gothic with bit of a master/governess romance thrown in.  I chose one I bought a while back by an author I haven’t read before, Lady of Mallow by Dorothy Eden;  originally published in 1960, it’s recently been digitally reissued, as have several of the author’s other books.

London is abuzz with gossip about Lord Blane Mallow, who ran away from his Kentish home aged sixteen and hasn’t been seen or heard of in the twenty years since.  Following the death of his father, newspaper articles and pamphlets have been circulated requesting information about the missing heir – and when none was forthcoming, steps were taken to start the process by which he could be declared legally dead and the inheritance – including Mallow Hall – pass to the next heir.  But just when all hope of Blane being found had been given up, he arrived in England, accompanied by his wife and five-year-old son, Titus, and his court case to prove his identity has become something of a cause célèbre.

Among those closely following the court’s progress is Sarah Mildmay, a gently-born but impoverished young lady who has lived with her aunt since the death of her father, an inveterate gambler.  She is secretly engaged to Ambrose, Blane’s cousin, who stands to inherit should the man be declared an imposter.

When the legalities are complete and the court is satisfied that Blane is who he says he is, it’s a huge blow to Sarah and Ambrose’s hopes, as without the Mallow inheritance, they cannot afford to marry.  Sarah is furious but Ambrose refuses to give up, suggesting an audacious plan.  The most recent newspaper article suggests that Blane’s son will need of a governess now the family is going to settle at Mallow Hall – and Ambrose suggests that Sarah should present herself as a potential candidate.  That way, she will be able to snoop about and find the proof of the impostor’s guilt in order to overturn the court’s verdict.

Adventurous of spirit and all too aware of possessing the same liking for taking risks as her late father, Sarah agrees with alacrity and duly presents herself at the Mallows’ London residence.  But she almost falls at the first hurdle when the sallow-faced, overdressed Lady Mallow, displeased with Sarah’s effrontery in just presenting herself without introduction, tells her to leave.  Sarah is on her way out, when a distressed little boy – obviously Titus – literally throws himself at her, clings to her skirts and refuses to let got.  She’s able to soothe the boy and calm him down – at which point the master of the house makes his appearance, and seeing Sarah’s effect on the boy, reverses his wife’s decision and offers her employment.

Blane is brooding, darkly handsome and enigmatic (of course!), his pronouncements are frequently dry and sarcastic, and it quickly becomes clear to Sarah that the Mallow’s marriage is not as it should be. She discovers that the connecting door between the master’s and mistress’ rooms is locked – from his side – and not only that, Lady Mallow’s desperation to gain her husband’s attention (and her temper when she doesn’t get it) are painfully obvious.  Titus is a nervous little boy who is the apple of his grandmother’s eye – and the spitting image of his father at the same age, as proven by one of the family portraits – Lady Malvina (Blane’s mother) is well-meaning, but indiscreet and appears to care more about the fact that having her son home means she is able to get back some of the jewellery that had to be sold and is able to accumulate more; as the story progresses, we begin to see that she has her doubts as to the truth of Blane’s identity, but that her focus was on securing her own position and in gaining access to her grandson.

The story follows a fairly predictable pattern.  There’s an unstable, jealous wife, a mysterious arrival who isn’t what they seem, a dead body in the lake, blackmail, kidnapping – and through it all a heroine whose adventurous spirit, sharp mind and wit is reluctantly drawn to similar qualities in the darkly sardonic hero. Like most of these older gothic romances, he’s pretty much a secondary figure in the story, and he doesn’t share all that many scenes with Sarah until near the end, so readers are given very little to go on as regards the evolution of his feelings for Sarah.  The signs are there, but they’re few and far between, so the end-of-book declaration comes very much out of the blue.  It’s true that he does have to be somewhat removed to keep Sarah – and the reader – guessing as to whether he really is or isn’t Blane Mallow, but still, it makes for an unsatisfying romance.  As we’re in Sarah’s head for most of the book, her feelings are easier to read, although most of the time, she appears to be angry at Blane’s blatant imposition and lies rather than attracted to him. There are hints of her discomfort around him, but otherwise there’s little to go on.

Lady of Mallow held my attention for the time it took me to read it, mostly because I wanted to find out the truth about Blane and I did enjoy the cat-and-mouse game he and Sarah were engaged in; it was obvious he was on to her from the beginning and she knew he was trying to trip her up.  The reveal was rather anticlimactic though, involving one character reciting the events to another and being overheard by Blane and Sarah, and the ending is really abrupt.

The blurb describes Lady of Mallow as a “classic of the genre”, but I’m inclined to disagree.  For a real classic gothic, you can’t beat Daphne du Maurier or Victoria Holt.

Grade: C+                          Sensuality: Kisses

~ Caz Owens

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo Visit our Amazon Storefront

The post March TBR Challenge – Favourite Trope appeared first on All About Romance.

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There’s a bumper haul of fabulous contemporary romances coming up in April with new books from Lucy Parker, Alexa Martin, Helena Hunting, Annabeth Albert and Alyssa Cole;  there’s a new instalment in C.S Harris’  long-running series of historical mysteries featuring her aristocratic detective, Sebastian St. Cyr, the conclusion to a fabulous trilogy of paranormal mysteries and new historical romances from Madeline Hunter, Cat Sebastian and Grace Burrowes… there should be something for everyone here, and then some!  Here’s what AAR staffers are looking forward to reading in April; drop by and tell us what new releases are going to make you all *grabby hands* over the coming weeks!

The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker (22 Apr)

Each of her books has felt unique, and yet they’re all equally good. I can’t wait for what’s coming next. – Alex A.

An actress and a critic and a fancy country house and a live viewer-interactive Austen TV event??? I can’t wait to see how this comes together.- Caroline

Lucy Parker is a rare contemporary romance must-read for me. I admit I wasn’t as wowed by Making Up as I was by the first two books in the London Celebrities series, but then she has set the bar very high;) And I’m totally here for this frenemies-to-lovers story involving a successful stage actress and the icy-cold theatre critic. Bring it on! – Caz

I’ve enjoyed each of Ms. Parker’s previous novels in the London Celebrities series, but I’m still waiting for her to top Act Like It. I thought the last book, Making Up, lacked the humor and sophistication of the earlier books, and I’m hopeful this one will be the best of the lot. Early reviews have VERY good things to say about it…and I’m looking forward to it. – Em

I adore Lucy Parker’s books and haven’t been disappointed by a single one yet.- Haley

I love, love, love Lucy Parker’s books. Every year she has had a book coming out, it has immediately zoomed to the top of my most anticipated books list. This year is no different. – Keira

Like other reviewers at AAR, Lucy Parker is on my auto-read list due to her previous contemporary romances that quickly have become favorites. It doesn’t really matter what the synopsis of this one is, I’m planning to read it! – Maria Rose

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Fumbled by Alexa Martin (23 Apr)

Martin has been an author I’ve been dying to read after hearing so much praise for her book last year. Two high school sweethearts meet again after many years but with closely-held secrets and heartbreak between them. I’m a fan of second chances, and this sounds like it will be very good. – Keira

Add my voice to those of my colleagues – I’m ready for this one! – Kristen

Poppy’s story continues Martin’s series about the Denver Mustangs football team and the women who love them. – Lisa

I enjoyed the first book by this author and am looking forward to seeing how she handles a sophmore effort – Maggie

I loved Intercepted which ended up on my top ten list of romances for 2018. As such, anything Alexa Martin puts out in the future is on my radar, including this upcoming football romance. I hope it’s as good as the first one in the series! – Maria Rose

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole

A European “red-headed step-prince” who uses the spotlight to help his heir brother – sounds like fun! – Caroline

Cole’s Reluctant Royals series returns once more, spotlighting Johan and Nya’s story!  It’s can’t-miss! – Lisa

I’ve really been enjoying this unique contemporary romance series by Alyssa Cole, with A Princess in Theory making my top ten list of romances in 2018. I knew when I saw that this was part of the series that it would be on my to-read list. – Maria Rose

I loved Cole’s A Duke by Default and am excited to read the next book in her Reluctant Royals series. – Maggie

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Who Slays the Wicked by C.S. Harris (2 Apr)

I’m a massive fan of this series, which has been consistently enjoyable throughout thirteen books and is, incredibly, getting even better as we approach the end. The murder victim in this book was an out-and-out villain in a previous one so it would appear he got what was coming to him.  But in Sebastian St. Cyr’s world, nothing is ever that simple… – Caz

I never want this series to end. Everything about the St. Cyr mysteries is excellent – the complicated mysteries, the world-building, the writing, the characters, the historical detail…I could go on and on. Wicked Lord Ashford finally get his just desserts – but who killed him? Friends, I’m glad he’s dead…and I’m looking forward to finding out who killed him (I hope he suffered!). I’m happy to spend more time in this wonderful world.- Em

I am a huge fan of the St. Cyr series. I have faithfully followed the books year after year from the very first one. The author really knows how to delve deep into the historical era to create the perfect atmosphere for her mysteries. I am eager to know how this story will unfold for the victim seems to deserve it on the surface of it, but with Harris there is always a twist or two. – Keira

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Meet Cute by Helena Hunting (9 Apr)

These days, I seem to be drawn to contemporary rom-coms. Hunting has been compared to Helen Hoang and this is one of the hottest books of this year. The heroine literally falls on the former famous actor she used to sigh over in her teens and fangirls all over him. But he ends up breaking her heart. How will their relationship recover? I’m looking forward to finding out. – Keira

I like the cover, the title, and the description of the ‘not so cute’ meet cute for this one. I haven’t read Helena Hunting before so I’m eager to give this author a try. – Maria Rose

I can’t find anything I’m not excited about here – I’ve liked a lot of Hunting’s past work, the meet cute in this one sounds delightful, and I’m very much in the mood for romcoms. – Kristen

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Thrown to the Wolves by Charlie Adhara (1 Apr)

Charlie Adhara’s début series has been a real triumph, boasting complex, tightly constructed plots, excellent world-building, two fabulous, engaging central characters and a steamy romance. This is the final book – and the big draw is finally getting to find out more about the enigmatic Oliver Park. – Caz

One of the best romantic suspense/shifter series I’ve had the pleasure to read, Big Bad Wolf, has (hopefully) saved its best for last: Oliver’s story! An enigma to readers – and his lover Cooper – Oliver has played his cards close to the chest as the series has unfolded. I’m excited to learn more about him, and for these two to get the happily ever after they so richly deserve. – Em

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Arctic Sun by Annabeth Albert (1 Apr)

The first in a new series by Annabeth Albert – I don’t even need to know what it’s about; I’m in.- Caz

I hated saying goodbye to the Out of Uniform series but it was good news when Ms. Albert announced she had a new series in the works. The opposites attract trope is one of my favorites and I’m looking forward to this match up: A rugged outdoorsman and a male model. I’m excited to see how Ms. Albert makes this duo work… and looking forward to another long running Albert series.- Em

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

When a Duchess Says I Do by Grace Burrowes (2 Apr)

This is the second book in Grace Burrowes’ Rogues to Riches series. The first book of the series – My One and Only Duke – earned a DIK last year. Grace Burrowes has run hot and cold for me. I did like the Windham series but not some that followed. I’m looking forward to giving this a try! – Evelyn

I really enjoyed My One and Only Duke, the first book in this series about a rough-and-tumble but rich family elevated unexpectedly to the peerage. I’m excited to read the sequel about a supporting character I loved (but whom I won’t name because he was a suspect in the crime in book 1).- Caroline

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo We’re also looking forward to… Caroline:

Repeat by Kylie Scott (7 Apr)

A second-chance romance involving a head injury and amnesia. Raise your hand if that didn’t make YOU curious!

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo Caz:

The Doctor’s Secret by Heidi Cullinan (23 Apr)

Having enjoyed a few books in this author’s backlist in audio format, I’m keen to jump into this new series of medical romances – a genre I don’t read much now, but on which I cut my romance-reading teeth when I was a teen!

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Never Deny a Duke by Madeline Hunter (30 Apr)

Although the last book in the Decadent Dukes series proved to be a disappointment, I’m a fan of the author’s and am hoping for a return to form in this final book in the trilogy which sees the tightly controlled Duke of Brentworth meeting his match in the form of a young woman who is completely unimpressed by him. Yeah. He’s toast. – Caz

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo Keira:

The Key to Happily Ever After by Tif Marcelo

A rom-com about a family-run wedding business? Take my money! I enjoy witty books, not slapstick comedy, but well-written humor. This book promises to be that by a new-to-me author who I’m eager to try.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo Lisa:

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Conductors, jazz musicians, rock stars, pianists, sopranos, church choristers – there’s no shortage of musicians in Romancelandia. This list features some of our favorites.

A Note Yet Unsung by Tamara Alexander

Trained in Austria, Rebekah Carrington is a brilliant violinist, but accepting the limitations placed on women musicians in post-Civil War Nashville, Tennessee is frustrating. She finds work as an assistant to the director of Nashville’s new symphony, Maestro Nathaniel (Tate) Whitcomb. While both hide secrets which could destroy their careers, Tate and Rebekah create a new symphony together and fall in love. Filled with powerful narrative and dialogue that bring both the concert hall and the Tennessee mountains to life, always entwined with music, this book provides a wonderful romance and some lessons on class differences that ring true in our time.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

A Regency Christmas Carol (Out of Print)

The two DIK stories in this Christmas anthology are Mary Balogh’s The Bond Street Carolers and Carla Kelly’s Make a Joyful Noise. In Carolers, Roderick Ames, Baron Heath, hears a gifted boy soprano caroling with his church, and approaches his widowed mother Fanny Berlinton about featuring the boy at a holiday concert. In Make a Joyful Noise, St. Philemon’s Church is tired of losing the parish carols contest. Peter Chard discovers that widowed Rosie Weatherby, new to the neighborhood and living on the slim charity of her relatives, is a glorious soprano – and comes with a melodious Welsh contingent! Since this anthology is out of print, here are two other places you can buy these stories: Balogh’s is in the ebook Christmas Miracles, and Kelly’s is in Carla Kelly’s Christmas Collection.

Buy Christmas Miracles at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo Buy Carla Kelly’s Christmas Collection at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Hub City Romance by Mercy Brown

Both books feature kick-ass women in the music business, and the first, Loud Is How I Love You, earned a DIK at AAR. Brown, who was a musician herself, gets everything right about local band life. As Dabney wrote, “I spent much of my mid-twenties hanging out with indie bands and I promise you this is what it’s like. The road trips, the sound checks, even the drinks on the house are so authentically an indie band in the 1990s that reading this book is an immersive experience, one that I desperately didn’t want to end.”

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

The Warrender Saga by Mary Burchell

Originally published by Mills & Boon back from the 1960s to the 1980s, most of the  books in this thirteen-book series are now available digitally. All the novels take place in the high-pressure world of the classical concert hall and opera house circuit; many of the characters are top-flight musicians – singers, pianists, conductors – and it’s very clear that the author really knew her stuff. In the first novel, A Song Begins, Mary Burchell’s knowledge and love of opera shines through, as we witness the romance developing between an aspiring singer and a world-renowned conductor.  Even though – as in many older romances – we don’t get the hero’s PoV, the author nonetheless creates a really strong emotional connection between the couple, and shows clearly that this is much more than your average master/pupil romance.

Find the series at Amazon

The Virtuoso by Grace Burrowes

Valentine Windham, a piano virtuoso, is the fifth son of the Duke of Windham. After an injury renders one of his hands virtually unusable, a depressed Val escapes to the country to recuperate. When he arrives at the dilapidated Markham estate (which he won at cards), he discovers Lady Ellen Markham, widow of the former Baron Roxbury, living in a cottage on the property still mourning the death of her beloved husband. Over the course of the summer, they transition from friends to lovers and find new purpose in life with each other. Val is a classic beta with a passion for music and his story is gentle, sweet, and satisfying.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

The VIP Series by Kristen Callihan

This series showcases Kill John, one of the world’s biggest and most successful rock bands. The series opens while the band is on hiatus (after their lead guitarist nearly dies from an overdose), and stars the super-hot lead singer, Killian James.  Killian can’t come to terms with his best friend’s close brush with death and is slowly drinking himself to death when he crashes his motorcycle into Liberty Bell’s front yard. She’s pissed, he’s pissed (literally) and things start off on the wrong note. Temporary neighbors and frenemies until one night Killian overhears Liberty playing her guitar and singing and…well, it’s a terrific book so you’ll have to read it and discover what happens on your own. Ms. Callihan followed up Idol with the excellent Managed (featuring the band manager), and released book three, Fall in 2018.

The Decades series

The series Decades: A Journey of African American Romance contains several books starring musicians. Sheryl Lister’s Love’s Serenade, set in the 1920s, features Leigh, a jazz singer, and Miles, her former love who might be able to get her the recording contract of her dreams. Love’s Sweet Melody by Kianna Alexander (set in the 1940s) is a story of healing, and how Betty’s music can reach veteran Warner as he struggles with PTSD from World War II.

Buy Love’s Serenade at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes and Noble/Kobo Buy Love’s Sweet Melody at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Infamous by Jenny Holiday

Beautifully written and gorgeously romantic, this story of a rock-star and a pediatric doctor who fall in love is slow-burn romance at its finest.  The romance between Jesse and Hunter is born of a strongly developed friendship that provides the sort of emotional support and closeness neither has ever had before – but former hell-raiser Jesse has promised his manager that he’ll toe the line and keep his name free of scandal – and owning up to his bisexuality is firmly on the list of Things Jesse Can’t Talk About. We also love Famous, Holiday’s fabulous story about a Taylor Swift-esque singer who hides out in a small town and falls for an art history prof with a lot of baggage. Famous is both a DIK and on our list for Best Books of 2017.

Buy Infamous at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes and Noble/Kobo Buy Famous at: Amazon/Barnes and Noble/Apple Books/Kobo

The Rock Star Romance series by Erika Kelly

In the first (and best) book, You Really Got Me, Ms. Kelly introduces us to Blue Fire, a band hoping for their big break.  Lead singer Slater Vaughn opens the series when he falls in love with roommate Emmie, who’s also the sister of a bandmate. Uh-oh. She’s looking for the next big band to launch her career as a band manager. Slater has a reputation as a ladies man (sigh), but he falls hard for the hardworking and laser focused Emmie. There’s lots of humor and missteps as they fall in love and Blue Fire hits the big time. Each book in the series features a different band member and the usual vices are sprinkled throughout the series:  drugs, alcohol, women, and the perils of fame.  The series is a bit uneven, but Slater’s story is a keeper. We gave it an A.

Find the series at Amazon

The Deal (Off-Campus #1) and The Score (Off-Campus #3) by Elle Kennedy

Ostensibly a NA series about college hockey players, Off-Campus features not one, but two musical heroines. The Deal stars Hannah Wells, a music major at the fictional Briar University, who falls in love with the college hockey team captain after she agrees to tutor him. Later on in the series, her best friend Allie Hayes, a singer and actress hoping to make it big on Broadway after college, brings ladies’ man Dean DiLaurentis to knees. These two – opposites and best friends who love and support each other in good times and bad – are smart, talented and ambitious, and enhance this terrific series in every way.

Find the series at Amazon

Wild at Whiskey Creek by Julie Anne Long

Glory Greenleaf is a singer and guitar player whose talent and ambition are too big for tiny Hellcat Canyon. She’s on the verge of the big break that might get her into the big leagues just when she’s falling in love with Sheriff Eli Barlow, who has no plans to leave town – and who also put her brother in jail.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Perfect Day by Sally Malcolm

In this..

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From Mary Anning to Lise Meitner, from Caroline Herschel to Katherine Johnson, history is full of brilliant women in STEM. Historical romances should be, too! If you’re seeking geologists, biologists, mathematicians, botanists, and more, AAR Loves these great romance reads.

Earth Bound by Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner (computer scientist): Dr. Charlie Eason is working with the US space program in the 1960’s with the goal of getting an American into orbit before the Soviets. She’s got beauty and brains, and her co-worker, engineer Eugene Parsons, is attracted to both. They engage in a secret affair amidst the life and death drama of their mission. It’s an exciting look at the race for space and a great acknowledgement of the part women have played in scientific success.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Evernight by Kristen Callihan (inventor): AAR’s review likened Holly Evernight to the Q character from the Bond franchise – an apt descriptor.  Brilliantly inventive, shy and a bit socially awkward (due to her agoraphoria), she meets her match in Will Thornton.  He draws out her slightly naughty, feisty and playful side and it’s a treat to witness.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare (geologist): Bookish Minerva Highwood is more interested in rocks than in men, but her determination to save her lovely sister from the clutches of a seasoned rake drives her to do something rather foolish and ask said rake to run off with HER instead.  This is one of the best road-trip romances and the author has yet to top it.  Colin is one of Tessa Dare’s finest creations,  hiding a vulnerability behind the good-looks and charm that is sometimes heartbreaking.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

A Gentleman Undone by Cecilia Grant (mathematician): Genius Lydia Slaughter has endured a difficult life and is trying to gain her independence by using her math talents to gamble. She wins money from a hero who needs it as much as she does. They realize that they can win more effectively as a team – and that the gaming floor may not be the only place where they match up perfectly.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

The Widow and the Sheikh by Marguerite Kaye (botanist): Julia Trevelyan is the widow of an eminent botanist whose promise to complete his final work – a study of lands her in trouble when her desert camp is attacked and all her books and samples are stolen.  Help comes in the form of the handsome Azhar, ruler of the kingdom of Al Qaryma – who is returning there for the first time in ten years. Attraction burns bright and Julia blossoms in the presence of a man who treats her as a person and values her opinions.  But for two people from such different worlds, an HEA must be impossible.  Mustn’t it?

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Midsummer Moon by Laura Kinsale (inventor): Merlin Lambourne is a scientist/inventor who, many years before the historical invention of the telegraph, is believed to be on the verge of inventing something akin to it. The British government is keen to get its hands on this technology, seeing multiple uses for it at a time of war. Lord Ransom Falconer is sent to bring her and her invention to London, but when an… experiment with the table salt has unintended consequences, he finds his world turned upside-down in more ways than one!

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

50 Ways to Ruin a Rake by Jade Lee (chemist): Mellie Smithson’s chemical research has helped make her into a textile heiress, but her father and uncle want her to marry her cousin. Trevor Anaedsley, ducal heir and hobbyist scientist, offers her a fake engagement so she can come to London with him and meet other eligible men, then break their relationship off. Both will realize, however, that they only want each other. The finale sequence, involving a four-way duel and a turkey, is laugh-out-loud funny.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan (biologist working with plants): Years ago, researcher and Countess Violet Waterford enlisted Sebastian Malheur to pretend to have developed her theories, since as a woman, she could not get published or taken seriously on matters involving reproduction. When he tells her he’s done, will she stop her work – or stand up for it?

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Talk Sweetly to Me by Courtney Milan (mathematician): Brilliant and shy, Rose Sweetly is a mathematician who is also black. Although Rose is aware of the prejudices against her (this is Victorian London), she quietly perseveres despite the obstacles in her path.  She’s sweet and lovely and sharp and bright and a favorite Milan heroine.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

The Duke I Tempted by Scarlett Peckham (botanist): Poplar – Poppy – Cavendish is an ambitious, self-taught botanist, determined to prove herself as a businesswoman.  But she longs to be loved too.  Despite the marriage convenience plot that finds her allied with an aloof and secretive husband, she thrives once he helps her establish her business.  Bright, devoted and resourceful, this one isn’t a quitter.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

The Veronica Speedwell Mysteries by Deanna Raybourn (lepidopterist): Smart, resourceful and independent, Veronica lives life on her own terms.  She’s a feminist ahead of her time, and her prickly relationship with Stoker is delicious. Through three books we’ve watched them solve intricate mysteries and strike sparks off each other as they’ve built a relationship built on equality and trust.  They’re made for each other – readers are just waiting for them to admit it out loud!

Sweet Enemy by Heather Snow (chemist): Liliana Claremont is particularly interested in the science of chemistry and how it can be applied to healing. When her home is ransacked, and she discovers a previously unknown hidden compartment in her late father’s study, she finds evidence that his death may not have been an accident and plunges headlong into the search for the killer. Our DIK review calls it a is a sensual romantic suspense with characters that have brains and passion, and are not afraid to put both to good use. Sweet Madness, book three in the Veiled Seduction series, was also awarded DIK status; its heroine, Penelope, is a kind of proto-psychotherapist.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

A Stranger’s Kiss by Shelly Thacker (chemist): Marie Nicole LeBon is a chemist working on a fertilizer that may either revolutionize French agriculture or become a powerful explosive weapon in France’s arsenal. After a laboratory accident, Marie awakes in an asylum with no memory and a handsome British spy posing as her husband beside her hoping to discover the scientific secrets in Marie’s mind. Marie is strong and clever, and the story glows with adventure, romance, and science.

(Note: this title is currently available only as as used paperback, although we believe it will be reissued digitally later this year).

Buy it at: Amazon

Readers – what can you add to our list? Can you think of settings (the Renaissance?), fields of study (engineering?), or places (the US?) to fill out our list? We deliberately kept doctors and healers off this list because there are so many of them in Romancelandia. Would you like to see a list featuring them? What other AAR Loves lists would you like to see in the future?

~ Caroline Russomanno

The post AAR Loves… Historical Romances starring Scientist Heroines appeared first on All About Romance.

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From Mary Anning to Lise Meitner, from Caroline Herschel to Katherine Johnson, history is full of brilliant women in STEM. Historical romances should be, too! If you’re seeking geologists, biologists, mathematicians, botanists, and more, AAR Loves these great romance reads.

Earth Bound by Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner (computer scientist): Dr. Charlie Eason is working with the US space program in the 1960’s with the goal of getting an American into orbit before the Soviets. She’s got beauty and brains, and her co-worker, engineer Eugene Parsons, is attracted to both. They engage in a secret affair amidst the life and death drama of their mission. It’s an exciting look at the race for space and a great acknowledgement of the part women have played in scientific success.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Evernight by Kristen Callihan (inventor): AAR’s review likened Holly Evernight to the Q character from the Bond franchise – an apt descriptor.  Brilliantly inventive, shy and a bit socially awkward (due to her agoraphoria), she meets her match in Will Thornton.  He draws out her slightly naughty, feisty and playful side and it’s a treat to witness.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare (geologist): Bookish Minerva Highwood is more interested in rocks than in men, but her determination to save her lovely sister from the clutches of a seasoned rake drives her to do something rather foolish and ask said rake to run off with HER instead.  This is one of the best road-trip romances and the author has yet to top it.  Colin is one of Tessa Dare’s finest creations,  hiding a vulnerability behind the good-looks and charm that is sometimes heartbreaking.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

A Gentleman Undone by Cecilia Grant (mathematician): Genius Lydia Slaughter has endured a difficult life and is trying to gain her independence by using her math talents to gamble. She wins money from a hero who needs it as much as she does. They realize that they can win more effectively as a team – and that the gaming floor may not be the only place where they match up perfectly.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

The Widow and the Sheikh by Marguerite Kaye (botanist): Julia Trevelyan is the widow of an eminent botanist whose promise to complete his final work – a study of lands her in trouble when her desert camp is attacked and all her books and samples are stolen.  Help comes in the form of the handsome Azhar, ruler of the kingdom of Al Qaryma – who is returning there for the first time in ten years. Attraction burns bright and Julia blossoms in the presence of a man who treats her as a person and values her opinions.  But for two people from such different worlds, an HEA must be impossible.  Mustn’t it?

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Midsummer Moon by Laura Kinsale (inventor): Merlin Lambourne is a scientist/inventor who, many years before the historical invention of the telegraph, is believed to be on the verge of inventing something akin to it. The British government is keen to get its hands on this technology, seeing multiple uses for it at a time of war. Lord Ransom Falconer is sent to bring her and her invention to London, but when an… experiment with the table salt has unintended consequences, he finds his world turned upside-down in more ways than one!

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

50 Ways to Ruin a Rake by Jade Lee (chemist): Mellie Smithson’s chemical research has helped make her into a textile heiress, but her father and uncle want her to marry her cousin. Trevor Anaedsley, ducal heir and hobbyist scientist, offers her a fake engagement so she can come to London with him and meet other eligible men, then break their relationship off. Both will realize, however, that they only want each other. The finale sequence, involving a four-way duel and a turkey, is laugh-out-loud funny.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan (biologist working with plants): Years ago, researcher and Countess Violet Waterford enlisted Sebastian Malheur to pretend to have developed her theories, since as a woman, she could not get published or taken seriously on matters involving reproduction. When he tells her he’s done, will she stop her work – or stand up for it?

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Talk Sweetly to Me by Courtney Milan (mathematician): Brilliant and shy, Rose Sweetly is a mathematician who is also black. Although Rose is aware of the prejudices against her (this is Victorian London), she quietly perseveres despite the obstacles in her path.  She’s sweet and lovely and sharp and bright and a favorite Milan heroine.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

The Duke I Tempted by Scarlett Peckham (botanist): Poplar – Poppy – Cavendish is an ambitious, self-taught botanist, determined to prove herself as a businesswoman.  But she longs to be loved too.  Despite the marriage convenience plot that finds her allied with an aloof and secretive husband, she thrives once he helps her establish her business.  Bright, devoted and resourceful, this one isn’t a quitter.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

The Veronica Speedwell Mysteries by Deanna Raybourn (lepidopterist): Smart, resourceful and independent, Veronica lives life on her own terms.  She’s a feminist ahead of her time, and her prickly relationship with Stoker is delicious. Through three books we’ve watched them solve intricate mysteries and strike sparks off each other as they’ve built a relationship built on equality and trust.  They’re made for each other – readers are just waiting for them to admit it out loud!

Sweet Enemy by Heather Snow (chemist): Liliana Claremont is particularly interested in the science of chemistry and how it can be applied to healing. When her home is ransacked, and she discovers a previously unknown hidden compartment in her late father’s study, she finds evidence that his death may not have been an accident and plunges headlong into the search for the killer. Our DIK review calls it a is a sensual romantic suspense with characters that have brains and passion, and are not afraid to put both to good use. Sweet Madness, book three in the Veiled Seduction series, was also awarded DIK status; its heroine, Penelope, is a kind of proto-psychotherapist.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

A Stranger’s Kiss by Shelly Thacker (chemist): Marie Nicole LeBon is a chemist working on a fertilizer that may either revolutionize French agriculture or become a powerful explosive weapon in France’s arsenal. After a laboratory accident, Marie awakes in an asylum with no memory and a handsome British spy posing as her husband beside her hoping to discover the scientific secrets in Marie’s mind. Marie is strong and clever, and the story glows with adventure, romance, and science.

(Note: this title is currently available only as as used paperback, although we believe it will be reissued digitally later this year).

Buy it at: Amazon

Readers – what can you add to our list? Can you think of settings (the Renaissance?), fields of study (engineering?), or places (the US?) to fill out our list? We deliberately kept doctors and healers off this list because there are so many of them in Romancelandia. Would you like to see a list featuring them? What other AAR Loves lists would you like to see in the future?

~ Caroline Russomanno

The post AAR Loves… Historical Romances starring Scientist Heroines appeared first on All About Romance.

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It’s Valentine’s Day, that 24 hours each year the world celebrates romantic love. AAR’s a big fan of romantic love–we’ve been writing about it and celebrating it since the early 90s. Over the years, we’ve published thousands of reviews and blogs, conversed online with countless readers, and chatted up hundreds of authors. We’ve given DIK status to almost 2000 books and reviewed another 12000 we cared enough about to share how we felt about them. We love what we we do and what we read and, most of all, we love sharing our passion for books with you.

I’ve been a part of AAR since early 2011–can it really only be eight years?–and, in that time, I’ve come to love romance and its readers with a fierce passion. Trust me when I say that there are no better readers out there. You guys are the best. You’re thoughtful, smart as hell, engaged, and critical. You think about what you read and what we review and when you think we’ve done well, you cheer us. And when you think we’ve screwed up, you let us know. (We’re grateful for that, we really are.)

This week Goodreads put out its list of Top 100 Romances. I’m happy they’re celebrating the genre but I had to roll my eyes at what they call a romance. Just to be clear: a romance has to have a Happily Ever After (HEA) or a Happy For Now (HFN) in order to be a romance. It’s the one rule. Me Before You? That’s a no. Gone with the Wind? Hell no. Memoirs of a Geisha? I don’t think so.

I’m not sure what the Top 100 Romances are. I know our list, heavy on historicals and not very diverse, isn’t in any way the definitive version. But I do know that you, our readers, know great romance when you read it. And we hope that the reviews we publish every day help you find more fabulous love stories to light up your lives.

We love you, we do. And just because we want to show you we care, we’re sending a box of some of what we think are the best romances of the past year to one lucky US romance reader. What will be in it? Well, give us some suggestions. What do you think were the best books published in the last year (or so)? We’ll draw from those who comment below.

And, in the meantime, Happy Valentine’s Day. We wouldn’t be here without you. <3

Dabney

The post Happy Valentine’s Day. We’re giving away a box of books! appeared first on All About Romance.

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