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Romance Report : Romantic Treats
By Martina Bexte (October, 2003)

We're adding something new to the Romance Report this month - our Reviewers' Top 5 Romance Picks. Rashmi says this about A Girl's Best Friend by Elizabeth Young --'it's a fun, flirty novel that's endearing and engaging as well as uplifting'. Melissa raves about Texas Cooking by Lisa Wingate and really likes Pushing 30, a chick lit story by Whitney Gaskell. Rounding out the top 5 are my two picks, both historicals: A Summer Affair by Susan Wiggs - one of the past summer's most touching and treasured finds - and Susan Krinard's To Catch a Wolf, another wonderful, otherworldly, werewolf romance.

Historical Romance

There are plenty of tempting historicals this month beginning with Susan Kay Law's turn of the century A Wedding Story - Kathryn Goodale asks for Lord James Bennett's help in the Great Continental Race; follow them as they hunt for glory and true love. Who Will Take This Man? is Jacquie D'Allessandro's enchanting account of a matchmaker determined to see the Viscount of Greybourne wed ... but unaware of the curse hanging over the Viscount's head should he ever marry. The always-engaging Stephanie Laurens continues her Bastion Club stories in A Gentleman's Honor. Anthony Blake, ex-agent for the Crown, is shocked to find the woman he's smitten with standing over a dead body; he and the lovely Alicia try to uncover the blackguard who's out to frame her for murder.

Another series that has readers all abuzz is Celeste Bradley's Liar's Club. Book#2, The Impostor, has Dalton Montgomery determined to expose a savage political satirist, but with no idea that Sir Thorogood is actually a woman. Meanwhile, Clara Simpson is shocked when she comes face to face with her fictional self at a ball. How will she unmask the imposter without exposing herself to all of London? And Shari Anton delivers an engaging story in her medieval The Ideal Husband. After Geoffrey Hamelin saves Leah of Pecham from certain death in storm tossed seas, his daring leaves him near death. Leah passes Geoffrey off as her husband - will her deceit destroy their growing love?

While voracious fans of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series will have to wait a bit longer for Jamie and Claire's next adventure, Lord John and the Private Matter should fill the void nicely. Gabaldon's latest is another historically rich tale featuring Lord John Grey, a frequent player in the Outlander books. What begins as a private family matter for Lord John soon turns into a full-fledged mystery, along with murder and betrayal.

Murder, Mayhem & Suspense

Librarian and amateur sleuth, Aurora Teagarden, makes another lively appearance in Charlaine Harris's Poppy Done to Death. Aurora is shocked to find her ex sister-in-law dead in her kitchen; sure Poppy wasn't perfect, but who would murder her in cold blood? Aurora and friends are determined to find out. In the mood for a madcap mystery? Then reach for May the Best Man Die by Deborah Donnelly. Wedding planner, Carnegie Kincaid can't understand why her life's gone down the toilet -- what else could possibly go wrong? How about the best man being murdered at her next wedding event? Carnegie and friends race against time to find the killer before the rest of the wedding party is picked off, one by one.

For more traditional mystery fare, try first time author Kathy Brandt's Swimming With the Dead - follow Hannah Sampson, (head of Denver Homicide's Dive and Recovery Team) to the Virgin Islands where she investigates the death of an environmental researcher who drowned while diving on a wreck. And Karin Slaughter tells another crackerjack story in A Faint Cold Fear. ME Sara Linton's investigation into a suicide turns personal when her sister's attacked. As usual, more complications arise with the involvement of Sara's ex-husband, investigating the case.

Prefer books that kick up your adrenalin meter? After an impressive debut, Annie Solomon is back with another page-turner in Dead Ringer. Desperate to find a dangerous weapon before it's sold to terrorists, Agent Finn Carver recruits bad girl Angelina Mercer to infiltrate the Montana ranch of Victor Borian - whose past ties to Angelina could cost her her life. Masterful storyteller Sharon Sala gives us another exciting, emotional tale in Out Of the Dark. After escaping her cult kidnappers Jade lives on the streets, finding security and love in the arms of the man who rescued her - but unfortunately the cult isn't finished with her yet. Veteran Linda Lael Miller also throws her romantic suspense hat into the ring with Don't Look Now, introducing sassy, independent lawyer Claire Westbrook. She's trying to track down her boss's murderer and to keep her feelings for detective (and ex-lover) Tony Sonterra under tight control.

Mainstream & Contemporary

Chick lit seems to gaining momentum and popularity with romance readers. In Melissa Nathan's The Nanny, young Jo Green heads for her new London job as nanny to the Fitzgerald brood who are much more than she bargains for - especially when one of the children turns out to be all grown up and hard to resist. And in Alexandra Carew's What Goes Around, follow twenty something Cat Wellesley as she works her way round the world in search of the perfect job and the right man. For more traditional fare, favorite Nicholas Sparks returns with The Wedding, continuing the story of Allie and Noah Calhoun and his decision to bring romance back into his 30-year marriage.

Halloween Treats - Paranormal Romance

We have a veritable witches' brew of great paranormal romances to celebrate All Hallows Eve. Shannon Drake brings her many fans The Awakening, in which married musicians Finn and Megan Douglas agree to perform a concert in their hometown of Salem, Massachusetts to celebrate Halloween (they also hope to reconcile their troubled marriage). Then Megan begins having terrible dreams that her husband is really an evil demon. Susan Sizemore spins an intriguing vampire mythology in I Burn For You. Alec Renard, Prime of his clan, has endured special medical treatments that allow him to function in the light and work for Lancer Security. But nothing can help him guard against the burning that stirs within him when he meets Domini Lancer, a human and his soul mate.

When Darkness Falls showcases three intriguing novellas by Susan Krinard, Tanith Lee and Evelyn Vaughn. Christine Feehan returns with a new Carpathian installment, Dark Melody, and Rebecca York continues her spooky series with Witching Moon - see what happens when park naturalist / werewolf and a lovely botanist join forces to stop a coven of witches bent on revenge. Finally, Susan Squires delivers another nifty paranormal thriller in No More Lies. Psychiatrist Dr. Holland Banks and journalist Jeff McQueen both believe they're losing their minds - until they touch and the turmoil within them calms. They soon discover there are others who can hear thoughts, and that a secret conspiracy wants to harness their powers to control the world.

Harlequin & Silhouette

Harlequin unveils a new category line, Flipside - short, modern and fun-filled stories that feature realistic plotlines and sassy characters. The two debut titles are Millie Criswell's Staying Single and Stephanie Doyle's One True Love: in the former, Mark Fielding looks for a little revenge after Francie Morelli dumps his brother; the second has Corinne frustrated over her boyfriend's fear of commitment, while her best friend Matthew decides now is the time to admit his true feelings for her. Intrigue's got some real page-turners for you this month: Caroline Burnes continues her Familiar series in Familiar Double - stuntman Jax Maclure is determined to find out who's trying to hurt stuntwoman Nicole Paul -- with the help of inquisitive feline, Familiar. And in Amy Fetzer's Under His Protection, detective Nash Couviyon finds himself investigating his old love's motives for murdering her husband.

Superromance has Laura Abbott's My Name is Nell, a poignant story about two vulnerable people, Brady and Nell, whose new found love could be destroyed by old secrets. Veteran author Brenda Novak pens a moving tale in Sanctuary. Years ago, when she was pregnant and alone, Hope Tanner turned to Parker Reynolds. Now her sister's in trouble and Hope's certain Parker will be there for her again. But will Hope's return bring to light a secret Parker would rather keep hidden? And you can't wrong with a Silhouette Special Edition. In Patricia Kay's Secrets of a Small Town, Sabrina is heartbroken when her father dies. Then she meets Greg Antonelli, the man of her dreams, who harbors a potentially shattering secret. And, though Jodi O'Donnell's Ash McDonough is a black sheep through and through, The Rancher's Daughter, Maura Kingsley, is determined to convince everyone, including Ash, that they're wrong about him.

Have fun digging into this month's romantic treats!
Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.