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Romance Report: Lazy, Hazy & Crazy
By Martina Bexte (June 2003)

Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are finally here! It's time for all of us sun worshippers to top off our beach bags with a brand new batch of steamy romances and head out to the cabin, the lake, the beachfront, or the poolside. If you're more the stay-at-home type, that comfy hammock or lawn chair out in the back yard will do just fine. So pour yourself a tall, icy drink, kick back, and lose yourself in sizzling June titles!

Historical Romance

The impoverished Duke of Wentworth convinces himself that marrying an American heiress will solve all his financial woes. But when he finds himself falling desperately in love with his strong-willed yet passionate new wife Sophia, their union becomes anything but a marriage of convenience. Julianne MacLean's well-told, romantic To Marry the Duke is the first in a series about three sisters who set their sights on British lords.

Long time favorite Lorraine Heath transports readers to 1879 England in Love With a Scandalous Lord. Can Lydia Westland tame the infamous Rhys Rhodes, Lord of Blackhurst? In Mary Reed McCall's The Crimson Lady, Fiona Bryne is a seamstress by day and a notorious outlaw by night. When Braeden de Cantor discovers her true identity, he blackmails Fiona into helping him rescue his sister. And in May McGoldrick's moving Borrowed Dreams, Millicent Wentworth agrees to marry crippled Earl Lyon Pennington to save her estates, but wonders if she can tame this raging beast who's given up on life.

Newcomer Celeste Bradley, introduces an intriguing historical series called The Liar's Club with The Pretender. When Agatha Cunningham, desperately looking for her missing brother, needs a fictional husband, Simon Raine (owner of the Liar's Club, a gaming hall and also secret headquarters for crown spies) steps in, and soon realises he's met his match in the irrepressible Agatha. If you prefer short stories, check out One Night With a Rogue, a lively anthology about three young women determined to find love their way!

Murder, Mayhem & Suspense

Bad Moon Rising is Katherine Sutcliffe's steamy new romantic suspense set in New Orleans - lady-with-a-past, Holly Jones, and alcoholic lawyer J.D. Damascus work together to find the French Quarter Killer. Janet Evanovich's wildly popular bounty hunter Stephanie Plum returns in Hard Eight, a zany, convoluted story that has Plum dumping her old beau and juggling a few new ones while trying to outrun the bad guys -- again! Suspense-meister Dean Koontz brings his legion of fans another spooky tale in The Face, in which movie star Channing Manheim's security chief makes it his personal business to check out the origins of a series of odd gifts sent to the star's rambling mansion.

Perennial favorite James Patterson is back with The Lake House, sequel to When the Wind Blows, a continuation of the story of a group of genetically engineered avian children. Lisa Scottoline brings readers legal thriller Dead Ringer, showcasing heroine Benny Rosato and the goings-on at her all-female law firm. And if you enjoy historical detecting, try Point of Honour by Madeleine E. Robins. Her heroine, Sarah Tolerance, expert in survival skills and swordsmanship, is hot on the trail of a missing heirloom belonging to the Earl of Versellion.

Mainstream & Contemporary

The ever-enjoyable Lisa Plumley gifts readers with another amusing, light-hearted romance, Perfect Together. Sparks fly when sportscaster Jake Jarvis and former sitcom star Marley Madison are teamed up as partners on the hit reality show Dream Date. While Marley hopes the exposure will kick start her career, Jake is appalled at his new status as 'TV's newest sex symbol'. If you like romantic comedies with an old fashioned flavour, don't pass this one by.

Mary McBride offers an enjoyable contemporary romance in My Hero. After taking a bullet for the president, secret service agent Cal Griffin knows his career is finished and reluctantly agrees to his former boss's proposal that he star in a documentary. Producer Holly Hicks eventually convinces him that there's more to life than a dream job. And Paula Detmer Riggs, known for her intense stories, brings her many fans Never Walk Alone, the tale of two emotionally scarred people, Michael and Brina, who must overcome tragedy.

June seems to be the month for a bevy of brand new authors. Susan Crandell and Jessica Bird are two hot voices in the contemporary romance scene. Crandell's novel Back Roads tells the story of small town sheriff Leigh Mitchell and her tentative relationship with drifter Will Scott, a man harboring many secrets. Tempers (and then sparks) flare in Bird's story Heart of Gold when archeologist Carter Wessex trespasses on corporate raider Nick Farrell's private mountain retreat in search of a lost cache of Revolutionary gold.

Paranormal Romance

Like a bit of the paranormal mixed with your romance? Then give Kelley Armstrong a try. Last year she wowed readers with an innovative werewolf tale, Bitten. Her latest release, Stolen, continues the story of Elena, the only female werewolf in existence. Along with her lover and fellow werewolf Clayton, Elena must stop a genius determined to harness the abilities of other supernatural beings. Long-time Harlequin Intrigue author Rebecca York makes her mainstream debut with a werewolf series, Killing Moon ... while on the hunt for a brutal serial killer, werewolf PI Ross Marshall falls in love with geneticist Megan Sheridan. And Kathleen Nance continues her djinn series with Spellbound, the story of Zayne, Minstrel of Kaf, whose sole task is to maintain the harmony of his people.

Harlequin & Silhouette

There are enough great categories this month to fill another beach bag! Let's start with Harlequin American's Have Bouquet, Need Boyfriend- shy Rebecca Hartwell can't get good looking Dr. Thomas Emerson off her mind, but will she drum up enough nerve to speak to the man? In Taking Over the Tycoon, Kristy Neumeyer has no intention of selling off her inheritance to businessman, Conner Templeton. No way, no how! In Harlequin Duets' Tried and True Sheriff Cal McCutcheon falls head over heels for heiress Clementine Spencer, who's hiding out from her pushy fiancee and pushier mother. And in Truly, Madly, Briefly factory owner Bobbie Callahan enlists the aid of Deputy Aidan O'Shea to help her locate errant undies.

In Harlequin Presents' Marriage in Peril Brooke, who believes her husband Leo loves her unconditionally, accidentally discovers that the 'love of his life' is really her sister-in-law. In A Ruthless Passion, Nick Harding and Cat Courald's attraction was once immediate and explosive. Six years later, Cat is widowed and in dire need of Nick's help. Harlequin Superromance offers Buffalo Summer and Born in the Valley. In the former, Native American Pony Young Bear is torn between her own heritage and that of the white man after she and rancher Caleb McCutcheon fall in love. And in the latter, Bonnie Neilson isn't happy despite the perfect life. She and her husband Keith realize that they need to sit down and fix what's broken.

Let Harlequin Temptation add extra sizzle to summer days. Candy store owner Mackenzie Bliss and bad boy cop Devlin Brandt meet at their school reunion, to discover a love still Sinfully Sweet. When PI Duncan Moore sets up a stakeout in Mallory Baines' bedroom to keep an eye on her shady neighbor, he realizes he wouldn't mind being Her Private Eye for the rest of their lives. Silhouette Desire turns up the summer heat with Sleeping with the Playboy. After threats from a stalker force Dr. Donovan Knight to hire Jocelyn MacKenzie as his bodyguard, can the tough-as-nails lady cop stay all business around the sexy doctor or will she succumb to his renowned charm? And in Marooned With A Millionaire, when hot air balloonist Lizzie Matheson's craft crashes on the deck of Jackson Dunlap's yacht, the lonely millionaire is determined to keep the feisty mother-to-be in his life for good.

Finally for a sampling of Silhouette Intimate Moments that's so absorbing you might forget to apply another layer of sun block. The always marvelous Merline Lovelace is back with another in her Omega series, To Love A Thief -- can Nick Jensen (aka Henri Everard, thief extraordinaire) consider any sort of future with Omega colleague Mackenzie Blair? In the action-packed tale, In Too Deep, Lily Reditch thinks she's safe after testifying against mobsters, until an assassin comes gunning for her. Now she's not only on the run from a hitman, but also from Quinn Morrison, if only to keep him out of harm's way. Finally, in The Law and Lady Justice, judge Jessica Kirkland and detective Doug McGuire clash over just about everything. But with a vigilante loose in their city the pair finally agrees that they must work together -- in all ways.

Wishing you lots of Lazy, Hazy, but not too Crazy Reading in June!
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