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Romance Report : Smokin' Summer Romance
By Martina Bexte (June/July, 2004)

What better way to spend slow summer days than kicking back in your most comfortable lawn chair, sipping a tall, icy drink and getting between the covers of some of this summer's hottest books?

Reviewers' Raves and Faves

Public Displays of AffectionRashmi raves that Gaelen Foley's Devil Takes a Bride is, 'well-written and character-driven with lots of seething passion, vengeful motives and historical ambience - a thrilling read'. One of my faves is Public Displays of Affection, another wonderful story by Susan Donavan that tugs at the heart strings and funny bone, and makes you believe in fate and second chances. And Heat Wave is another great beach read by the always-enjoyable Jill Marie Landis - the story of a father determined to find and get to know his long lost daughter.

Historical Romance

Some Enchanted EveningMary Balogh continues her Dangerous series with Slightly Dangerous -- confirmed bachelor Wulfric finds himself enchanted by Christine Derrick and decides to pursue her, never realizing he's the object of a bet. Christina Dodd's Some Enchanted Evening is the first in her brand new Lost Princesses series. Clarice must support herself and her sisters selling 'youth, beauty and joy' and soon finds the hardened Robert MacKenzie blackmailing her. Mary Jo Putney returns to her historical roots and a touch of the paranormal in A Kiss of Fate - she re-visits 'The Guardians', members of a powerful Scottish clan who control the weather (first introduced in the anthology Irresistible Forces).

Pamela Britton puts a twist in her latest Regency tale, Scandal - the Duke of Wroxly's cannot collect his inheritance unless he proves that he can live penniless in London's slums for one month. Market girl Anna agrees to help him and they fall in love, but the Duke's enemies want to make sure he doesn't leave the slums alive. Last but certainly not least, Marsha Canham returns with My Forever Love, an exciting story set during the Crusades, about ex-communicated and disillusioned Knight Templar, Ciaran Tamberlane, and his quest to protect a young woman from her abusive husband's band of marauding mercenaries.

Mainstream & Contemporary

The Things We Do For LoveKristen Hannah is back with the poignant Things We Do For Love. After suffering heartbreaking losses, Angie Malone returns to her hometown and befriends a young woman whose own life is in turmoil. Danielle Steel explores a more suspenseful theme in Ransom, about fame, fortune, drugs, and a sinister kidnapping plot. Sandra Hill returns to Cajun country in The Cajun Cowboy - salon owner Charmaine LeDeux, on the run after borrowing money from loan sharks, falls right into the arms of her sexy ex-husband, Raoul Lanier. In Lisa Plumley's Perfect Switch, bookish Meredith doesn't see the harm in impersonating her movie star sister for a couple of weeks. But when Tony Valentine finds out that an imposter has taken the lead role in his Actors Fantasy Camp, sparks fly.

The prolific Susan Wiggs brings her fans Summer By the Sea, exploring how first loves and second chances affect our lives. Alisa Kwitney takes us into a New York psychologist's office in On The Couch, an amusing tale that has Dr. Marlowe wondering why everyone else is finding Mr. Right except her -- until a relationship-shy detective crosses her path. Donna Hill tickles the funny bone with Divas, Inc.. When Margaret's two best friends ask her to house-sit, she decides to live their lives while they're away in Europe. And Patti Berg delivers another fun and sexy read in I'm No Angel - Palm Beach PI Angel Devlin is up to her eyebrows in trouble when the fundraiser she's organized turns up one mystery after another.

Romantic Mystery & Suspense

Kiss Me While I SleepJill Churchill sets her 1930s era series in motion again with It Had To Be You. This time Brewster siblings, Lily and Robert, are investigating the murder of cranky senior citizen, Sean Connor. PI Stephanie Plum and side-kick Lula find themselves in a load of trouble after stopping at a deli and interrupting a robbery in Janet Evanovich's latest wacky adventure, Ten Big Ones. Denise Swanson's newest Scumble River mystery, Murder of a Pink Elephant, follows psychologist Skye Denison as she tries to figure out why everyone at her school is acting so strangely. Newcomer Jacey Ford's Dangerous Curves takes readers on an adventurous romantic thrill ride as two FBI agents (who were once a hot item) track sinister goings-on within a wealthy automotive company.

Darlene Gardner's Snoops in the City takes an amusing look at a rookie PI's trials and tribulations while tailing the hunky main suspect in a corruption scandal. Linda Howard presents another gritty romantic thriller in Kiss Me While I Sleep in which assassin Lily Mansfield becomes the target of her own shadowy employers after her latest job goes wrong. Karen Robards, also a veteran in the romantic suspense genre, brings her fans Bait. A business trip to New Orleans almost turns deadly when Maddie Fitzgerald's mistaken for someone else. She wants to put the whole ordeal behind her but the killer and a persistent FBI agent won't let her.

Paranormal & Other Worlds

Tall, Dark & HungryLiz Maverick's Shadow Runners, third in the 2176 series, follows the exploits of Jenny Red after she escapes from a 'Newgate' prison of the future. Vampires are hotter than ever and so is Lynsay Sands' amusing and offbeat series featuring the undead Argeneau clan. Tall Dark & Hungry, the third in this tongue-in-cheek series, features brother Bastien, who doesn't know what he's in for after agreeing to let his future sister-in-law's maid of honor stay at his penthouse while the rest of his family makes wedding preparations.

Here are a couple of spicy anthologies perfect for a day at the beach. Laurell K. Hamilton, MaryJanice Davidson, Eileen Wilks and Rebecca York have teamed up in Cravings, a tasty compilation of stories including the latest Anita Blake short. There's also the humorous Dead Girls Don't Dance; Originally Human about a curse that's turned Molly into a succubus; and Burning Moon, an episode in York's popular werewolf series. An ancient perfume bottle is the fulcrum Julie Kenner, Susan Kearney and Julie Leto use to launch their trio of tales in Essence of Midnight - in Wild Thing a cursed man turns into a panther; the doctor in Touch Me must help a government agent unlock military secrets hidden away in his memory; and Surrender tells a spicy tale of a dream lover.

Category Romances

Still in the mood for shorter fare while working on your tan? Check out some of the summer's category romances: Kylie Brant presents the latest entry in her exciting Tremaine Tradition series in Dangerous Deception - when billionaire James Tremaine receives anonymous letters saying his parents' accident was anything but, he enlists the aid of PI Tori Corbett. Together they pursue the truth, one that James has been after for twenty years and that may point towards Tori's father. The Blaze line keeps the heat cranked up with Absolute Pleasure, Jamie Denton's tale of FBI agent Sunny McGregor's search for a con man preying on wealthy women. And His Hot Number by Shannon Hollis follows narcotics agents Linn Nichols and Kellan Black as they work to bring down a drug lord.

Romance News Flash

BOMBSHELL, Harlequin's second new line of the year, explodes into action in July with these exciting titles: Proof, Code Name: Dove, Get Blondie, and Daughter of Destiny. Harlequin promises readers 'four high-octane romantic adventures each month', all filled with plenty of action and suspense, along with 'strong, sexy, savvy women who save the day and get their man - and we don't just mean the bad guys'. Authors who've signed on include favourites like Justine Davis, Carla Cassidy, Vicki Hinze, and Lindsay McKenna - and that's just for starters.

Stay tuned for more -- and happy summer reading!
Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.