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Winter Romance Report - Comfort & Joy
By Martina Bexte (December, 2007)

It may be time to swing into high gear as another holiday season accelerates towards us, but once you've trimmed the tree, decked the halls, sugared the shortbread, and shopped 'til you drop, take some time for yourself. Curl up in a cozy corner, sip mulled cider and settle down with a new romance or two. As always, this winter's reading list is varied, exciting, and guaranteed to give even the most discriminating romance junkie hours of comfort and joy.

Historical Romance

On Wings of the MorningTravel back to the 12th century in Kathleen Woodiwiss's final offering, Everlasting, a sweet story about a disgraced noblewoman who is forced into an unsavoury alliance, only to find true love with a young Scottish emissary. Newcomer Anna Campbell pens an emotionally rich story in Untouched, where two prisoners form an alliance to escape their dangerous situation and ultimately find love, despite enemies determined to silence them.

Mary Balogh is back with another heart-stirring tale, The Devil's Web, in which two old flames rekindle their desire - a fateful decision that could ruin them both. Former seamstress turned heiress, Prudence Bosworth, is determined to wed the Duke of St. Cyr, but little does she realise that the cynical lord harbours an ulterior motive in Laura Lee Guhrke's winning The Wicked Ways of a Duke. Or travel back to 1941 in Marie Bostwick's On Wings of the Morning which explores the triumph and tragedy of war through the eyes of a young female pilot.

Mainstream & Contemporary

The Christmas PearlThe incomparable Deborah Smith is back with A Gentle Rain brimming with quirky characters and high emotion - a young woman, who loses her parents, discovers a new outlook on life and love after meeting Ben Thocco and his one-of-a-kind extended family. Sonia Lambert studies three generations of women, their secrets, relationships, and how their decisions affect future generations in her emotionally charged Three Mothers. Susan Mallery's poignant Accidentally Yours is sure to tug at readers' heartstrings as a mother desperate over her son's incurable disease, stops at nothing to enlist the aid of a billionaire who lost his own son to the malady.

Elaine Fox creates a complicated and funny relationship romance in Hello, Doggy! where a psychologist is forced into a book collaboration with a man she believes is a complete phoney. Lori Wilde unwraps the second instalment in her Wedding Veil Wishes series in Once Smitten, Twice Shy, where two old flames re-examine their love in hopes of being finally able to move on. And toss together a dedicated free spirit, a lonely family man and an assortment of pets for a sure fire recipe for summer time romance in Connie Brockway's touching Skinny Dipping.

Mystery & Thriller

A Christmas BeginningJ. D. Robb returns with Creation in Death, another gripping instalment of her futuristic detective series starring Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband Roarke. This time a clever killer - who eluded arrest a decade before - returns to New York for a final battle of wits with the determined detective. Anne Stuart continues her international spy caper in Ice Storm where veteran operative Isobel Lambert is tasked to bring in the renowned mercenary whose life she thought she'd ended two decades before.

Amy Fetzer presents the adventure filled and steamy Come As You Are, where two sworn enemies are forced into an uneasy alliance to foil a deadly threat that could kill millions. In Silent in the Sanctuary, Deanna Raybourn reprises the role of Lady Julia Grey as she and enigmatic enquiry agent Nicholas Brisbane are tasked to unmask a murderer loose in a remote Italian Abbey. Julie Garwood conjures up an ancient feud, buried treasure - and of course romance - in her thriller Shadow Music. And Satisfaction is the last thing on Ethan Darling's mind when he signs up to protect the life of culinary queen Georgie Mundy in Marianne Stillings' latest humour-laced light romantic suspense.

Fantasy, SF & Paranormal

Down Home Zombie BluesStephanie Rowe is back with another tongue-in-cheek charmer - in Sex and the Immortal Bad Boy, Satan's former apprentice Paige Darlington is determined to break free of her dark master's manipulative plans. Patricia Waddell brings her fans another futuristic adventure filled with political intrigue and plenty of outer space derring-do in True Deception. Lilith Saintcrow continues her wildly popular Dante Valentine series in Saint City Sinners, where Dante's search for a missing friend supersedes her quest to track down escaped demons.

Lara Adrian continues expanding her imaginative vampire mythology in the third instalment of her riveting Breed series, Midnight Awakening. In this intense chapter, Darkhaven widow Elise Chase forms an uneasy alliance the with the deadliest of the Breed warriors to track down their relentless enemy. Linnea Sinclair takes a very inventive approach to the old-fashioned zombie tale in The Down Home Zombie Blues that has Guardian Force Commander Jorie Mikkalah and detective Theo Petrakos forming an alliance to stop an impending infestation of biomechanical organisms.

Nora Roberts begins another dark and edgy paranormal series in Blood Brothers: Sign of Seven Trilogy where three childhood friends inadvertently unleash a sinister force during a camp out - twenty years later that same evil returns to collect its due. And Shana Abé returns with the third instalment in her marvellous Drakon series in Queen of the Dragons - the British and Carpathian tribes must set aside their suspicions and unite to thwart the hunters seeking to destroy them.

Yuletide Romance

On Strike for ChristmasPirates, smugglers and high seas passion are the themes of a romantic trilogy, Christmas Wedding Belles, featuring Nicola Cornick, Miranda Jarrett and Margaret McPhee. Return to Georgian England in Eloisa James' An Affair Before Christmas, where a desperate duke decides to woo back the love of his life before he loses her forever. Sheila Roberts' On Strike for Christmas shows what happens when the Stitch n' Bitch knitting club decides to go on strike, leaving holiday preparations to their husbands.

Dorothea Benton Frank pens another heartwarming tale in The Christmas Pearl that shows an elderly woman educating her family on ways to celebrate an old-fashioned southern Christmas. Jennifer Chiaverini continues her Elm Creek Quilts series with The New Year's Quilt that finds a young bride recalling poignant memories from her childhood on the night of her wedding. Anne Perry shares a seasonal mystery with her readers in A Christmas Beginning that follows the vacationing Superintendent Runcorn in his quest to apprehend a killer running amok on the isolated Isle of Anglesey. Heather Graham shares more holiday suspense in The Last Noel, where a family's Christmas celebrations turn deadly after criminals invade their home during a blizzard.

FBI agent Jules Cassidy and his long-time flame, actor Robin Chadwick, are finally tying the knot. But will a dangerous assignment, nosy reporters, and well-meaning friends and relatives derail the happy couple's special day? Find out in Suzanne Brockmann's long awaited All Through the Night. Rachel Lee and Catherine Mann fire up the action and the heat in Holiday Heroes - in the first story an ex-marine and a park ranger discover love in the wilderness, while the second features an army ranger on the lookout for any and all threats against an outspoken state senator. And finally, if you've overdosed on sugar plums and candy canes then check out Holidays Are Hell, a quartet of slightly sinister Yuletide tales penned by Kim Harrison, Lynsay Sands, Marjorie Liu, and Vicki Pettersson.

Wishing you comfort and joy - and happy reading - throughout the holiday season!

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