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Romance Report: Sultry Summer Romance
By Martina Bexte (August 2003)

As the last month of summer gives us hot sunny days and warm breezy nights, publishers are adding to the sultry heat wave by marching out a whole new parade of even hotter romances for August. The selections are fabulous, whether you're looking for new stories by favourite authors or you're on the hunt for fresh, inspiring talent. Let's take a look ...

Historical Romance

Long-time reader favourite Teresa Medeiros returns with One Night of Scandal, in which impish Carlotta Fairleigh is drawn to spy on mysterious neighbour Hayden St. Clair, aka the 'Murderous Marquis'. When her escapade (naturally) goes awry and leads to scandal, Lottie finds herself betrothed to a man others perceive as terrifying. Will she be able to tame the dark, brooding and very lonely beast? Over the years Teresa Medeiros has never failed to entrance readers with her well-written, character driven and emotionally charged historicals. Add her latest to your list of keepers!

Eloisa James' Fool For Love is a fun regency romp. Crippled Henrietta MacLellan doubts that she'll ever marry, but then she meets dashing rogue Simon Darby and soon Henrietta is sending him romantic letters that even the worldly wise Simon can't resist. Popular Sue-Ellen Welfonder also makes another appearance this month with the third in her Scottish series, Master of the Highlands. This time she tells the story of Ian, a man whose grief over his wife's death knows no bounds. While doing penance he spies Madeline Drummond stealing silver from various shrines. When the wrong people eventually catch her, Ian steps in to save her. But can he protect his hardened heart from love?

The marvelous Susan Wiggs gives us A Summer Affair, another emotionally charged love story that re-introduces characters from a previous book, The Horsemaster's Daughter. Dr. Blue Calhoun is devastated over the loss of his wife and buries himself in his work. While ministering to the poor one night, he rescues adventurous Isabel Fish-Wooton from certain death. Isabel wants nothing to do with this brooding man and his troubled son -- she's got the whole world to see. But the longer she stays in San Francisco the harder it becomes to leave Blue.

And finally, Patricia Rice returns to Scotland of the 1700s with her mystical offering, The Trouble with Magic. Determined to rid herself of the curse of seeing into others lives, Felicity Childe sets out to find a book of spells. But roguish inventor Ewen Ives is determined to help her learn to properly use her wonderful talent.

Murder, Mayhem & Suspense

Rather spend the last few days of summer vacation enmeshed in stories that set your pulse pounding? Let's begin with Tess Gerritsen's newest thriller The Sinner. Boston detective Jane Rizzoli wants to know who's responsible for the murders of two seemingly unrelated women. With help from medical examiner Maura Isles, Jane soon discovers a dark and dangerous connection to the grisly crimes. Tough as nails cop Jane Rizzoli doesn't disappoint.

Virginia Lanier's A Bloodhound to Die For is an engrossing tale featuring Jo Beth Sidden, kennel owner and sleuth. Now that she's free and clear of the murder of ex-husband Bubba, Beth just wants to get on with her life and her search and rescue school. But when escaped con Jimmy Joe Lane threatens her and her dogs after they helped track him down, Jo Beth's life takes another complicated and dangerous turn. Michelle Jaffe, well known for her intriguing historical romance series set in the Renaissance, ventures into contemporary romantic suspense with Bad Girl. Windy Thomas looks forward to moving to Las Vegas with her young daughter and taking up her new duties as head of the forensics lab. She's quickly butting heads with Ash Leighton, head of Violent Crimes. But when a savage killer brutally murders an entire family, Windy and Ash must work together to put a stop to the carnage.

Faye Kellerman and Elizabeth George also return with their latest offerings: Kellerman continues her Cindy Decker series in Street Dreams, in which Cindy rescues an abandoned baby. With the help of Ethiopian Koby Kutiel, she searches for clues about the baby's parents and the reasons why they dumped their child. And in A Place of Hiding, George showcases two secondary characters from her popular series books - Deborah and Simon St. James are called upon to help friends who are arrested for murder.

For light-hearted mystery and intrigue, try Kasey Michaels' Maggie By the Book, her second installment featuring novelist Maggie Kelly, whose historical characters somehow come to life and end up helping her solve deadly pranks at a romance convention. Stephanie Plum returns with her usual amusing hi-jinks in Janet Evanovich's To the Nines, another engaging look at the female bounty hunter and the various men in her life, who try to keep her safe from herself. Also worth a look for their titles alone are Mary Daheim's Hocus Croakus, Ellen Byerrum's Killer Hair, and Marion Chesney's Snobbery With Violence.

Mainstream & Contemporary

The incomparable Mary Jo Putney gifts her many fans with another emotionally packed and timely contemporary in Twist of Fate. Lawyers Val Covington and Kendra Brooks, and investigator Rob Smith, put their careers on the line to help death row inmate Daniel Monroe with a last ditch effort to prove his innocence before his execution date. Reliable storytellers Carla Neggars and Anne Stuart bring us Cold Ridge and Into the Fire. Neggars features Carine Winters whose life is going along just fine thank-you until ex-boyfriend Tyler North shows up looking to clear his best friend of a murder charge. Stuart's tale showcases another of her dark, dangerous bad-boy heroes that readers can't seem to get enough of.

Newcomer Heather Lowell is off and running with When the Storm Breaks, an edgy romance in which Claire Lambert witnesses a murder late one night. Will D.C. Detective Sean Richter be able to keep her safe long enough to collar a serial killer? On a more humorous and somewhat different bent, check out Pat White's Got a Hold on You, a behind-the-scenes look at the Love and War goings-on in the pro wrestling world. Susan Donavan's fun-filled Take a Chance on Me is also sure to leave you smiling. Animal behaviorist Emma Jenkins has no idea that the only reason cop Thomas Tobin is caring for a tiny hairless dog is because Hairy witnessed his former master's murder. When Hairy's unending doggie issues bring Tobin to her office time and again, both he and Emma realize they've bitten off more than they can chew.

Paranormal Romance

Stories with a paranormal or fantasy twist seem to be gaining a stronger foothold as the year progresses -- let's hope this trend isn't a temporary one. Rebecca York brings readers her second installment in her Moon series -- Edge of the Moon involves magic and invasive demons from other dimensions. In Susan Grant's The Star Princess, Intergalactic Prince Che Vedla comes to Earth for a last hurrah before assuming his mantle of responsibility and marrying a suitable princess. When he meets fun-loving Ilana he knows she's the woman of his heart, but will his people accept her? And in Traveler, Melanie Jackson develops an alternate world scenario where goblins, fairies and magic are very real. Io, half human and half fey and also a member of Humans Under Ground, must infiltrate Goblin Town and work together with Jonathan Frost, also fey, to stop a sinister Goblin plot.

Harlequin & Silhouette

This month's fine categories begin with the Harlequin Romance line. In Lucy Gordon's The Tuscan Tycoon's Wife, sparks fly between rodeo rider Selena Gates and tycoon Leo Calvani. In Texas to buy horses, Calvani keeps his real identity a secret while romancing Selena, who has strict rules about dating rich men. And in Jessica Hart's The Blind Date Proposal, Kate Savage has no idea her blind date is her annoying boss, Finn. Can they manage to be civil to each other for a single night?

From the Harlequin Superromance line Susan Gable deals with a sensitive subject in The Mommy Plan. Rachel Thompson can't shake her survivor's guilt after losing her son and it takes James McClain's kind and insightful guidance to mend her broken heart. In Kay David's The Searchers, Maya Velaquez returns home to Columbia with Shepard Reyes in a dangerous journey to search for her lost child. And Lynette Kent provides an engaging cast of characters in The Last Honest Man - Phoebe Moss helps Adam Devries win his race for mayor.

Harlequin Temptation showcases these winners: Kate Hoffman continues her enjoyable series featuring the Quinn brothers in The Mighty Quinns : Brian. Lily Gallagher thinks she's found the right man after a one-night stand with Brian Quinn. But when she discovers he's doing a story about her client she must work hard to forgive him. Jill Shalvis provides another fine read in Luke, a sexy story about two medical practitioners who don't quite see eye-to-eye on how to treat patients. And in Barbara Dunlop's Too Close to Call, it's off to the wilds of Alaska and the dilemma airline owner Jordan Adamson faces when he's asked to impersonate a passenger and then must explain his actions to his competitor, Ashley Baines.

Take a look at these crackerjack stories featured in Silhouette Intimate Moments: after a lengthy hiatus, multi-award winning author Kathleen Korbel continues her very popular Kendall series with Genevieve's story, Some Men's Dreams. Dr. Gen Kendall's first meeting with her new boss and mentor, Dr. Jack O'Neill, sets tongues wagging. It isn't every day that Gen knocks men unconscious during a baseball game. But once she gets to know the sexy head of pediatrics, Gen realizes she's a goner. Then she discovers a secret about Jack's beloved daughter and can only hope their newfound love will survive.

RaeAnne Thayne and Kylie Brant are also back with two exciting stories packed with plenty of action and romance. In Freefall, globetrotting Sophie Beaumont and Thomas Canfield work together to discover who killed Sophie's twin sister and also to provide stability for her children. Falling in love is an unexpected complication. And in Kylie Brant's Truth or Lies, another in The Tremaine Tradition series, Dr. Shae O'Reilly needs Detective Cade Tremaine's help in stopping a killer who's developed an obsession for her.

Be sure to round out your summer with sultry romances!!
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