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Romance Report: The Lusty Month of May
By Martina Bexte (May 2003)

Remember that song from Camelot, 'it's May, the lusty Month of May / That lovely month when everyone goes blissfully astray'? Even though the trees lining my street are cloaked in a thick mantle of snow rather than the much-anticipated pink and white Mayday blooms, publishers have still released a frivolous assortment of romantic confections. Whether you're in the mood to stray for a few hours into a story as warm and cozy as a May breeze or ready for one as exciting as a spring thunderstorm, here are some tantalizing titles.

Historical Romance

Mary Balogh is back with another trademark Regency, Slightly Wicked. Lord Rannulf Bedwyn and Judith Law can't forget their shared night of passion. When they unexpectedly meet again, Rannulf takes it upon himself to properly woo the lady and make her his forever. In Candice Proctor's latest tropical adventure, Beyond Sunrise, travel writer India McNight hires Navy renegade Jack Ryder as her guide through a lush paradise of love, danger and adventure.

Rebecca Brandewyne returns with another wonderful Gothic romance, this time set in the Cornish moors. A spunky governess, a brooding widower, a rakish highwayman, dangerous smugglers, ghosts and old mysteries; The Love Knot has it all for those who enjoy a finely wrought gothic romance. Amanda Quick's Regency detective team, Lavinia Lake and Tobias March, return in Late for the Wedding, an amusing and sensuous romp, in which the pair tracks down a serial killer linked to a mysterious woman from Tobias's past. And finally, for those of you who missed Dorothy Garlock's A Place Called Rainwater, this slice of Americana is now out in paperback.

Romantic Murder & Mayhem

Patricia MacDonald gives us another suspenseful read in Suspicious Origin. When Britt Anderson learns her estranged sister was murdered, she heads back to her home town to investigate. John Sandford brings his legion of fans a new installment in his perennially popular Prey series, featuring hard-edged detective Lucas Davenport. Now a husband and father, and with a new job description, Davenport takes his investigative talents to a remote Minnesota town where an old fashioned lynching is the backdrop for true evil, in Naked Prey.

Carol Nelson Douglas s newest Midnight Louie story, Cat In A Neon Nightmare, involves a sinister cult and the death of a call girl. And in another sleuth series featuring cats, Cat Seeing Double, felines Joe Grey and Dulcie set out to clear their human's new contractor boyfriend Ryan of a murder charge.

Contemporary Romance / Romantic Suspense

Kristin Hannah's latest contemporary Between Sisters re-introduces readers to Meghann Dontess, a Seattle divorce lawyer whose stressful career almost leads to disaster when a client's husband comes close to killing her. Realizing it's time to get away from the pressures of her job, she decides to re-acquaint herself with her estranged sister, Claire. Hannah has a true gift for stories about dysfunctional families and this poignant tale is another winner (remember to keep a box of Kleenex close by).

Nicholas Sparks' The Guardian is sure to shoot up the bestseller lists in record time. This time around, he adds suspense to the mix when Julie and Mike are forced on the run by a vengeful ex-boyfriend. Second Glance is Jodi Picoult's story about suicidal ghost hunter Ross Wakeman, a man who's never gotten over the death of his fiancie. When a developer hires Ross to exorcise a ghost, he finds himself involved in an old murder and with a woman who turns his life around. But is she as real as she appears?

Leanne Banks breaks into mainstream contemporary with Some Girls Do, a lighthearted look at the lives of three misfits, up-tight Katie Collins, lonely rich girl Wilhemina and work-obsessed Michael. When Katie and Michael are ordered to find Wilhemina a husband, the real fun begins. Also look for the paperback release of Breathing Room, Susan Elizabeth Phillips' latest poignant and often amusing story -- this one's a total charmer and would make a great gift for mom!

Rachel Lee's thriller, Last Breath, grabs readers from the first page and never lets go. When Father Brendan Quinlan is linked to a heinous crucifixion of a young parishioner, lawyer Chloe Ryder sets out to prove his innocence. Certain the priest was set up, she convinces detective Matthew Diel as well. Together Chloe and Matt unravel a complicated, dangerous and far-reaching conspiracy where nothing is as it first appears.

Dinah McCall (aka Sharon Sala) brings lovers of romantic suspense another top notch, character driven story in The Perfect Lie. DEA agent Jonah Slade believed that his former fiancie Felicity had cold-bloodedly aborted their child. But when her younger sister Macie tells him Felicity has been murdered and that her nephew Evan was kidnapped, Jonah is truly shocked. It's soon apparent that the murder and the kidnapping are linked to a South American drug lord Jonah brought down - 'a son for a son' is the drug lord's demand. McCall does what she does best -- injects new life into a tried and true story.

Paranormal Romance

Check out Julie Kenner's fun-filled Aphrodite's Secret, the latest in her Super Hero series featuring gods and goddesses let loose and discovering love on the mortal coil. Paranormal trio, Susan Squires, Susan Grant and Christine Feehan, have joined forces to bring fans their Mother's Day release, The Only One. Squires' novella Sacrilege introduces vampire Magda. She has been forced back into society after learning to suppress her killing ways and only Pietr can guide her. Grant's story, The Star Queen, is a lively and entertaining prequel to her popular Vash Nadah series. It's set on the planet Sienna, featuring soldier Romjha and bomb maker Taj, both determined to bring down the ruthless warlords who've decimated their race. And Feehan adds another level to her Carpathian tales this time in Dark Descent, the story of the psychic tie between bodyguard Joie Sanders and dark and dangerous Carpathian, Traian.

Harlequin & Silhouette

May brings us another exciting line-up of category romances, starting with the shorter Harlequin Romances. The Independent Bride introduces heiress Pepper Calhoun, who finds herself penniless and on the hunt for relatives and a new job in England. Can she successfully debate 'Natural Chemistry' with handsome Oxford professor Steven Konig? In Liz Fielding's delightfully funny The Bridesmaid's Reward, Dodie must lose a few dress sizes in a couple of weeks. Her best friend enlists the aid of her health club owner boss, who moves in with Dodie and whose strict eating and exercise program sets of all sorts of fireworks.

Kay David's latest Super Romance, The Target, showcases Hannah and Quinn, members of a special bomb squad unit. Their future together is put in jeopardy when Quinn is badly injured on the job. And in Brenda Novak's A Husband of Her Own, continuous squabbling eventually leads to true love for Rebecca Wells and Josh Hill. As always Harlequin Temptation offers tantalizing reads. Carrie Alexander's The Chocolate Seduction is a delicious story of a bet between two sisters. Sabrina Bliss knows she can settle down and hold down a job for six months. But denying herself the temptation of pastry chef Kit Rex is an altogether new dilemma. And Kathleen O'Reilly brings readers her latest, Once Upon A Mattress. Can Hilary Sinclair convince Ben McAllister to become her 'forever guy'?

The Intimate Moments line-up is another fine one. Kylie Brant continues with her Tremaine Tradition series, giving us Entrapment. Sam Tremaine has been after an international criminal for two years. Now he must rely on jewel thief Juliette Morrow to help him attain his goal. But Juliette has her own reasons for agreeing to help Sam. Marilyn Tracy delivers another character rich treat in At Close Range. Rancho Milagro is not only a place of miracles for the children living there, but also for Corrie Stanton and Mack Dorsey, once they discover their love.

And finally, take a look at these two Silhouette Special Editions: Midnight Cravings is Elizabeth Harbison's funny look at the showdown that erupts between chef Josephine Ross and laconic police chief Dan Duval. When Dan takes too long to locate her stolen briefcase Josephine wants to know why. And veteran Gina Wilkins brings readers the last in her McClouds of Misssissippi series, Faith, Hope and Family. Once lovers, now adversaries, Deborah and Dylan must work together to solve a threat to Deborah's family. Can their old love find new beginnings?

Happy romantic reading this lusty month of May!
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