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Romance Report: Sizzling Summer Romance
By Martina Bexte (July 2003)

Tired of wielding the garden weasel, giving the lawnmower a workout every other day and dragging the water hose all over the yard? It's time to take a break from weeding, mowing and watering and all such sweaty work, and relax with something more pleasurable. Get yourself out of the hot sun, settle in under your funky patio umbrella and check out sizzling July releases that are sure to cause a major meltdown even after the hot sun sinks far into the horizon.

Historical Romance

Here's a sampling of this month's historical romances. They'll whisk you away to other times and other lands for a few hours or a whole afternoon. Newcomer Kresley Cole brings readers The Captain of All Pleasures, a lively Victorian romantic adventure set on the high seas. Rivalry between Nicole Lassiter and Captain Derek Sutherland is super-heated from the moment they meet. Both are determined to win Queen Victoria's Great Circle Race -- Sutherland needs the money to save his company and Nicole wants to prove he's a saboteur.

The Wife Test is Betina Krahn's delightful sequel to last years The Husband Test. She sweeps us back to England's Middle Ages inside the walls of the convent of the Brides of Virtue. Chloe of Guilbray and ill-tempered knight Sir Hugh of Sennet are tapped into escorting a group of young women to meet their future husbands. Chloe also hopes to learn more of her parentage while Sir Hugh would rather be a thousand miles away from this group of annoying women.

Dancing with a Rogue is Patricia Potter's latest historical offering. Gabriel Manning travels to England to claim his title and meets actress Monique Fremon. Both hold a grudge against a powerful lord and join forces to destroy him. And Dorothy Garlock focuses on the depression era in Mother Road, telling the story of the debt between two men, Andy Connors and H. L. Yates and its long-term cost. Finally, if you're in the mood for a fresh bouquet of shorts, try Burning Up, which features an exciting array of stories by some of today's hottest writers: Patricia Ryan, Cheryl Holt, Nina Bangs and Kimberly Raye.

Murder, Mayhem & Suspense

Crooks, con men and conniving culprits never take a holiday - which is a good thing if you prefer stories peppered with pulse-pounding mayhem. First up is crackerjack suspense author Lisa Gardner's latest thriller, The Killing Hour. The brutal and pre-meditated murders of Kimberly Quincy's sister and mother compel her to join the FBI where she and special agent Mac McCormack join forces to hunt down a clever and very bold killer they've dubbed The Eco-Killer. With Gardner's track record, this one's guaranteed to be a winner.

Elizabeth Lowell also returns with Die In Plain Sight. Lacey Quinn is drawn into an intriguing and murderous chain of events after she inherits her grandfather's paintings and has them appraised. And in Mark T. Sullivan's latest suspense, The Serpent's Kiss, San Diego detective Seamus Moynihan tracks a serial killer who uses snakes to make his point.

Don't miss Don't Tell, Karen Rose's gripping thriller, in which Mary Grace Winters faked her death to escape her abusive husband. She thinks she's finally found a safe haven and a new love, but her husband will stop at nothing to get his son back. And for those of you who enjoy following the exploits of amateur sleuths, here are a few intriguing titles: The Angel Whispered Danger by Mignon Ballard, Dead Girls Don't Wear Diamonds by Nancy Martin and Mrs. Malory and Death in Practice by Hazel Holt.

Mainstream & Contemporary

Whether you're looking for a romance that's funny and frivolous, thought provoking or action-packed, July releases are sure to please, beginning with Suzanne Brockmann's much-anticipated Gone Too Far. When Navy SEAL Sam Starrett travels to Florida to finalize his divorce he finds the badly decomposed body of his wife, but no sign of their baby daughter. Sam turns to FBI agent and ex-lover Alyssa Locke for help and the two soon find themselves on the run and looking for answers to a much bigger conspiracy.

The myriad fans of Ms. Brockmann's marvelous Troubleshooter stories have been eagerly awaiting Sam and Alyssa's story that began in the first of the series, The Unsung Hero. They won't be disappointed by this page-turning romantic adventure that features not only a finale to Sam and Alyssa's long and steamy affair but also another of Brockmann's trademarks, a multiple-plot storyline.

In Cait London's With Her Last Breath, Maggie Chantel's vocal belief that her sister was murdered falls on deaf ears. Nick Allesandro is the only person who believes her but is plagued by demons of his own. Marilyn Gardiner and Linda Castillo each deliver their own brand of spiffy romantic suspense with their stories, When the Wind Blows and The Shadow Side. Gardiner's story shows the horror a mother faces when her child is kidnapped and Castillo's is about a scientist whose wonder drug is suspected of causing people to become suicidal or commit murder.

If milder contemporaries are more your style while catching a few relaxing rays, then check out Marilyn Pappano's Cabin Fever, the eighth in her series set in Bethlehem, New York. Nolie Harper is delighted when she inherits real estate in town. Moving to Bethlehem will free her from her interfering in-laws. But the last thing Chase Wilson wants right now is a new and very likely nosy neighbor.

Patti Berg and Sandra Hill present a pair of enjoyable stories that touch the heartstrings and tickle the funny bone in And Then He Kissed Me and Tall, Dark and Cajun. Berg puts picturesque Plentiful, Wyoming back on the map, focusing this time on local vet, Cole Sheridan, whose search for a suitable Nanny borders on desperation. Ex-TV star turned mystery writer Juliet Bridger is passing through town to escape her high profile life and threatening phone calls from her ex. When circumstances leave her penniless, she fills in as Nanny #14. Encores by some of the more eccentric townsfolk, most notably The Sleuths, three elderly ladies who consider themselves top-notch investigators, only add to the fun.

Hill's romance is set in the steamy Cajun country and throws together designer Rachel Fourtier and pilot Remy LeDeux. This mix of southern spice includes voodoo, witchcraft, adventure, and sizzling sexual tension, as well as another interesting and eccentric cast of secondaries. And here are duos sure to please: For Love or Money features stories by Penny Jordan and Sandra Morton and On the Edge (romantic suspense) showcases the talents of very popular writers - Heather Graham, Carla Neggers and Sharon Sala.

Paranormal Romance

On the paranormal front, try Sherrilyn Kenyon's intriguing new vampire novel, Night Embrace, or Robin Popp's futuristic Too Close to the Sun, an intergalactic adventure featuring smugglers and scientists who join forces to stop an alien race called the Harvesters.
Or pick up this tantalizing collection, Lover Beware, featuring otherworldly tales by Christine Feehan, Katherine Sutcliffe, Fiona Brand and Eileen Wilks.

Harlequin & Silhouette

July offers another great line-up of category romances. Powerhouse Suzanne Brockmann scores a second time this month with her entry in the Silhouette Desire line, Scenes of Passion. Back in high school shy Maggie Stanton had a real thing for Matthew Stone but never told him how she felt. Now that they're all grown up they take the chance and give in to their passion. Katherine Garberra gives readers her latest Barone installment in Cinderella's Millionaire. The winner of the Baronessa contest gets to spend one day with the handsome, aloof CEO of the company. But will Holly Fitzgerald be satisfied with twenty-four hours with Joe Barone? Kathie Denosky's In Bed with the Enemy shows agents Cole Yardley and Elise Campbell breaking all the rules when they're unable to control their passion while staking out smugglers.

As always, Silhouette Intimate Moments has a stellar line-up. In Debra Cowan's Burning Love, Jack Spencer has sworn off women after his wife's murder. But when he teams up with fire investigator Terra August to solve a string of arsons he realizes he may have to go back on his promise. The talented Kathleen Creighton gifts readers with another great story in Shooting Star. Caitlyn Brown is determined to see an abused mother and child to safety and if she has to highjack truck driver CJ Starr and his rig to do it, she will. Packed with action and romance, this one's sure to please. And finally, take a look at Linda Turner's Always a McBride. Taylor Bishop has come to Liberty Hill for one purpose - to look up his long lost father and exact a little payback. But he finds a lot more than he bargained for, including lovely innkeeper Phoebe Chandler.

Not to be outdone are these Harlequin Superromance titles. In The Good Daughter by Jean Brashear, police psychologist Chloe St. Clair helps detective Vince Coronado, under investigation for murder by Internal Affairs. Anne Marie Duquette's The Replacement is a scintillating thriller that has ranger Lindsey Nelson and ex-fianci Eric Kincaide racing against time to find a missing child -- and control their rekindled passion.

For those of you who like shorter, sweeter reads, why not kick back with Harlequin Romance offerings. When Payne Sterling sees his entire life depicted in a romance novel, he's fit to be tied and ready to sue. Can artist Rainey Bennet convince him it was all just an honest mistake? Rebecca Winters' delightful Manhattan Merger is sure to make you smile. Fianci Wanted Fast! is another breezy and amusing tale by Jessica Hart. Phoebe needs a date for a wedding and who better to ask than the guy next door. Their attraction is immediate, but when she discovers that Gib was only there on a bet, she's not so sure about the happily ever after part anymore. In With This Baby, by Caroline Anderson, Claire Franklin must cope with not only her sister's suicide but also her infant niece. Determined to make a life for herself and the baby she sets out to find its father. Can two complete strangers find love and build a family?

Happy Sizzling Summer Reading!!
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