Anyone who follows here or knows me knows how fond I am of AAR—All About Romance. I know it’s a site that reviews books, and when Sing My Name was first out no one there said, “Okay, let’s do Ellen O’Connell a big favor and review one of her books.” The book got reviewed in the usual course of what they usually do.
However, right at that time I was getting a lot of flack from the anti-indie crowd over things I didn’t do, and the fact is there’s no way to defend against that kind of thing. At one point I seriously considered giving up writing. So that DIK review was a tremendous and timely morale booster. I’ve heard it’s the first time they ever reviewed an indie book, and if that’s true, it just makes it better. I never submitted the book for review or asked them to review it (I did submit a request for Dancing and also one for Bad Man, although they haven’t reviewed Bad Man to date).
I also have good feelings because a lot of the AAR posters in their forums say nice things about my books, and the ones who don’t like them have the grace to be civil about it.
So… all that said. AAR is now doing a mini-poll to update their list of readers’ favorite “Frontier/Western Romances.” My initial reaction was how cool, wouldn’t it be great if one of my books made such a list.
Stop. Please read on. I am not about to suggest anyone hie to the site and vote for my books.
What I am about to do is vent a little. The list has not been updated since 2007, and this is the list of “Favorite Frontier/Western Romance” from 2007:
1. The Touch of Fire, Linda Howard
2. Only His, Elizabeth Lowell
3. Ride the Fire, Pamela Clare
4. Annie’s Song, Catherine Anderson
5. A Breath of Snow and Ashes, Diana Gabaldon
6. Prince Charming, Julie Garwood
7. Dream Fever, Katherine Sutcliffe
8. The Outsider, Penelope Williamson
9. Drums of Autumn, Diana Gabaldon
10. Texas Destiny, Lorraine Heath
Okay, I’ll confess right now I’m in that small minority of readers of the world who didn’t like Outlander. If I ever saw Jamie as heroic, and I don’t think I did, the description of red fuzz on his butt finished me off. I stopped reading not long after the beating. After that I skimmed a bit toward the end figuring to see how it ended and be done with it and hit right on a torture scene that absolutely gave me the creeps and that’s only with reading enough of it to get an appalled idea of what was going on. Talk about over my personal line for violence. (That’s not a review, folks. I didn’t read enough to review it. What I did read was long enough ago I may not be remembering clearly—maybe that red fuzz was on his thighs.)
It’s my understanding that Gabaldon herself does not consider her books romances. In the AAR comments on the 2007 poll, they say: “Technically Gabaldon’s book was neither a Frontier/Western Historical nor a Romance….” Okay, so why is it there? If a bunch of readers voted for a Regency on that “Western” list would the Regency get a place?
So where is Maggie Osborne? Where is LaVyrle Spencer? Where are others who wrote classic Westerns? Either not there at all or pushed down out of the Top Ten by books that are kinda sorta.
Maybe no one else in the world would look at that 2007 list and get as cranky as I did, but the fact is I did. And it’s now been several days since I first saw it, I’ve mulled it over, and I’m still cranky about it.
So this post is to urge you all to go vote. Surely readers who actually like Westerns can come up with ten real Westerns, and if enough people who do like real Westerns vote, the 2014 list will include nothing but.
P.S. I have not read Katherine Sutcliffe’s Dream Fever, which is mentioned as being set in New Zealand, but I don’t think just a non-U.S. setting keeps a book from qualifying as “Frontier.” If Quigley Down Under (Australia) were a book instead of a movie, it would in my opinion be one of the best Westerns ever. Then again, who knows, maybe that’s Tom Selleck-itis. One of my own favorites is Candice Proctor’s Whispers of Heaven (Tasmania) although the fact it’s hideously overpriced and not available for Kindle cools my enthusiasm somewhat although I know it’s the publisher, not the author that’s to blame (I had to get it from the library).