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Romance Report: March into Spring
By Martina Bexte (March 2003)

Well, it seems the groundhogs were right -- Mother Nature still has her wintry grip on most of us even though the first day of Spring is less than a month away. What better way to warm the spirit than by curling up with a fiery romance? Let's take a sneak peek at hot March releases.

Historical Romance

There are choice picks for historical romance buffs. First up is Marsha Canham's latest, The Iron Rose, another of her trademark high seas swashbucklers that sees a notorious privateer's daughter, Juliet Dante, and aristocrat Varian St. Clare, joining forces against Spanish treachery. Then Christina Dodd sets her story, Scandalous Again, in Regency England, introducing us to Madeline de Lacy, who's determined to stop her gambler father from losing everything. She enters into a dangerous masquerade, one that Lord Gabriel Ansell sees through immediately.

The always popular Kasey Michaels delights once again (in the same time period) with her amusing The Kissing Game. Armand Gauthier, neighbour to a family of pranksters, soon finds himself becoming something of a prankster himself, if only to catch the eye of beautiful lady Allegra. Bored wedding guest Jack Kent unwittingly finds himself aiding runaway bride Amelia Bedford in The Wedding Escape, Karyn Monk's second installment showcasing the Kent family first introduced in last year's The Prisoner. Also back is Amanda Scott with the third book in her Scottish Secret Clan series, Highland Bride - sizzling attraction develops between Bab McRae and Alexander Chisholm, a man she initially finds much too dandified for her liking. Susan Wiggs fans rejoice -- MIRA books is reissuing her wonderfully poignant romance The Drifter, in which physician Leah Mundy is forced, at gunpoint, to treat the friend of outlaw Jackson Underhill.

Romantic Murder & Mayhem

March could come in like a lamb, but books showcasing mayhem, murder and mystery will take readers by storm, beginning with With A Vengeance. After a four-year hiatus, crackerjack storyteller Eileen Dreyer is back with another action-packed thriller featuring medic/SWAT team member Maggie O'Brien. After averting a crisis involving a mentally disturbed man who's holding fellow cop, Sean Delaney, hostage, Maggie is shocked to discover that 'Montana Bob's' paranoid delusions about 'someone being after' him may not have been delusions after all.

If you like a dose of humour to go with your murder, try Leslie Glass's latest April Woo story, Over His Dead Body, all about wine importing, face lifts and cheating husbands. Mumbo Gumbo is another humour laced offering by Jerrilyn Farmer, featuring catering and game shows. Laurie King is also back with her suspenseful read, Keeping Watch, as is Rita Mae Brown and her cat Sneaky Pie in The Tail of the Tip-Off, another engaging story which has pets, not humans, busily sniffing out clues and tracking down small town killers.

Contemporary Romance / Romantic Suspense

Contemporary romance and romantic suspense also get a notable nod this month with a veritable plethora of fine offerings. Judith McNaught brings fans Someone to Watch Over Me. After her husband is murdered, Leigh Kendall's idyllic life goes up in flames, but a mysterious man from her past suddenly steps from the shadows and sets fire to a love that's soul deep. Wages of Sin, Penelope Williamson's brooding sequel to Mortal Sins (both set in New Orleans during the Prohibition) has detective Damon Rourke once again tracking down a brutal killer.

Annie Solomon offers up a fine romantic suspense in Like A Knife, featuring a dark and tortured hero and his path to redemption. The incomparable J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) is back with another futuristic romantic suspense featuring Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her husband Rourke in Portrait in Death. This time around Eve goes after a killer targeting college students. And yes, Nora Roberts also has a new hardcover, Birthright, coming out at the end of March, all about a cursed archaeological dig and a lost identity. Barbara Delinsky's Heart of the Night tells a story of old family secrets and the ongoing rivalries of three woman - a kidnapping and the men that come between them up the anti. And Caitlin Bandeaux awakens covered in blood and suffering from vague memories of killing her husband in Lisa Jackson's The Night Before. Did she murder her husband or is it the work of a shadowy serial killer?

For something more light hearted, newcomer Deirdre Martin checks out what goes on behind the scenes in hockey locker rooms in Body Check - Janna MacNeil and hockey superstar Ty Gallagher just can't seem agree on how to polish his team's tarnished image. Jane Heller has a knack for intriguing titles like Female Intelligence, Name Dropping and Sis Boom Bah. She gives us The Secret Ingredient, another hilarious concoction showcasing Elizabeth Baskin, who's reached the annoying conclusion that her boyfriend Roger needs a make-over. What else can she do but feed him an herbal concoction guaranteed to turn him into Prince Charming? And boy does it work -- Roger has eyes only for Liz -- and every other woman who crosses his path! If it's a bit of the paranormal you crave, the always popular Maggie Shayne and rising star Christine Feehan are back with two new vampire stories, Embrace the Twilight and Dark Symphony, respectively.

Harlequin & Silhouette

Now here are a few winners from the series and category romance lists: Harlequin American offers Emily Dalton's Professor and the Pregnant Nanny, a story about rekindling a high school crush. Charlotte Douglas's entry into the Millionaire Montana series, Surprise Inheritance, has Jennifer Faulkner discovering she's been left a fortune and rediscovering feelings for old flame Luke McNeil. Harlequin Blaze turns up the heat with How To Host A Seduction, that has Ellen Talbot's aunt Q meddling in her affairs of the heart. And Eugenia Riley offers readers The Boy Toy, an amusing story featuring Allison Tracy and the sexy mechanic on whom she sets her sights.

Harlequin Duets want you to check out Maid of Dishonor in which bridesmaid Samantha Lloyd decides to stop her friend's wedding once she realizes the match is all wrong. Cooking Up Trouble by Molly O'Keefe has a Hollywood star helping childhood friends Alyssa and Mark realize that maybe they aren't just best friends after all. Harlequin Presents author Sandra Marton presents readers with Keir O'Connell's Mistress, in which waitress Cassie Berkovic is unable to escape the attentions of her sexy boss. Also take a look at Michelle Reid's A Passionate Marriage, where Leandros Petronades and his estranged wife Isobel realize that divorce is the wrong answer.

Harlequin Superromance showcases Men of Thorne Island by Cynthia Thomason. Sara Crawford's new island is home to a group of men who prefer their privacy, especially Nick Bass, but even he can't resist Sara's charm. And the stellar M. J. Rodgers' Baby By Chance is a romantic thriller with a little bit of everything. Silhouette Desire doesn't disappoint with hot titles beginning with Kristi Gold's Renegade Millionaire, all about a stolen kiss and a mysterious photo. Meagan McKinney's The Cowboy Claims the Lady tells the story of what happens when Melinda Clay goes for a two week vacation at a dude ranch. And Sharon Sala, often in the Intimate Moments line-up, crosses over into the Desire line with Amber By Night. See what happens when Amelia Beauchamp decides to put more spice in her boring life by donning spandex and working as cocktail waitress.

Silhouette Intimate Moments rounds out the month with lots of excitement, starting with Eileen Wilks' Midnight Choices. When Gwen Van Allen goes looking for her baby's father, she has no idea she's about to fall hard for his brother. Linda Castillo is back with another in her Family Secrets series - The Phoenix Encounter is a thrilling tale that follows the story of Dr. Robert Davidson and his quest to find his lost love. And Jenna Mills creates more exotic thrills in The Perfect Target, in which Alessandro Vellenti finds kidnapping an ambassador's daughter brings more trouble and danger than he anticipated.

March into spring with all of these hot new romances!
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