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Romance Report: Spring is Sprung
By Martina Bexte (March, 2005)

The last few months have certainly flown by - it seems as if we just celebrated Christmas and New Year. As I look out the window today, robins chirp in the trees and the crocus, tulips and daffodils are brushing off the last winter snow, ready to embrace the warm spring sunshine. Spring also brings a fresh crop of romantic reading from favorite authors as well as new voices for 2005.

Historical Romance

To Wed a Scandalous SpyAfter a lengthy hiatus from writing, Susan Carroll returns to Renaissance France with The Dark Queen, first in a new series that pits mystic Ariane Cheney against ambitious Queen Catherine de Medici. Celeste Bradley continues her enjoyable Regency adventures in To Wed a Scandalous Spy, a Liar's Club spin-off that introduces the 'Royal Four'. Nathaniel Stonewall (leader of the Four known as 'the Cobra') is after a traitor, but when he meets 'Mishap Miss' Willa Trent, he's confronted with a whole new challenge, not the least of which involves sudden marriage.

Karyn Monk takes readers from England to Capetown in Every Whispered Word - archeologist Lady Camelia Marshall seeks out the assistance of eccentric inventor, Simon Kent, to help her thwart an enemy determined to undermine her work. Mr. Impossible, the latest by Loretta Chase, also embraces an African setting. Rupert Carsington has been exiled to Cairo by his family to keep him out of trouble. But when Daphne Pembrooke needs Rupert's help to rescue her brother from kidnappers (and possibly get Rupert into even more trouble), he finds he just can't say no to the lady.

Mainstream & Contemporary

Jill Marie Landis continues her Twilight Cove series with Heartbreak Hotel. This time two lost souls, Tracy Potter and Wade McAllister, check into the turn of the century hotel hoping to turn their lives around. Sean and Lily are brought together in Susan Wiggs' poignant Table for Five, that tells the story of a couple trying to raise three orphaned children. Susan Donovan is back with another humorous and quirky look at love in He Loves Lucy - personal trainer Theo Redmond and PR whiz Lucy Cunningham lock horns and hearts after orchestrating a volatile publicity campaign.

Dream GuyVicki Lewis Thompson delivers another installment in her over-the-top nerd series in Nerd Gone Wild. This time wealthy heiress Ally Jarrett flees to Porcupine, Alaska to fulfill her dream of becoming a wildlife photographer. Close at her heels is her grandmother's nerdy personal assistant. But is Mitch Caruthers really as dorky as she thinks? Candy Halliday's Dream Guy is an amusing romp in which game designer Annie Long creates and markets 'Joe Video', the perfect way for a woman to find the 'man of her dreams'.

Wendy Markham delivers a poignant 'second chance at love story' in Hello, It's Me. Widow Annie Harlowe hangs on to her husband's cell phone, if only to hear his voice. But one day he shocks her by answering and then helping her get on with her life. Lisa Plumley is back with another cheery romantic comedy in Josie Day is Coming Home. When Las Vegas dancer Josie Day saves a wealthy octogenarian from choking to death she receives a mansion as a reward for her quick thinking. Unfortunately the dilapidated place is not only located in her hometown (the last place Josie wants to be) but also comes with a hunky handyman who Josie finds hard to resist.

Kate Harrison has come to the unhappy conclusion that Valentine's Day sucks. Her boyfriend's dumped her and now she can't even talk a handsome hockey player into a one night stand. But when they meet again in her hometown of Gospel, Idaho, the game's just begun in Rachel Gibson's sexy and often amusing romp, The Trouble With Valentine's Day.

Romantic Mystery & Suspense

Blind CurveSuzanne Brockmann brings her many fans another adventure-packed tale in Hot Target, the latest in her Navy Seal series. This much-anticipated story centers around the mysterious Cosmo Richter and his first assignment with Troubleshooters Inc., that involves guarding outspoken Hollywood writer/director Mercedes Chadwick from a violent extremist group. Rising star Annie Solomon wows with her latest riveting thriller, Blind Curve - detective Danny Sinofsky loses his sight during a shoot-out. Danny may be side-lined, but the killers he's after won't back down; soon, he and his mobility instructor are running for their lives.

Susan Enoch turns her hand to romantic adventure in Flirting With Danger - a thief and a millionaire join forces to find out who's trying to destroy them - and of course along the way, they find love. Marianne Stillings, who tickled the funny bone in last year's Damsel in this Dress, delivers another charmer in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evie. A deceased millionaire sets up a treasure hunt involving his relatives and heirs - the quest involves finding out who murdered him and also helps his stubborn stepson Max and former assistant, Evie Randall, find true love.

Paranormal Romance

For all you paranormal fans out there - Lori Handeland presents the second in her werewolf series, Hunter's Moon. Leigh Taylor has hated werewolves with a vengeance since a pack killed her entire family. Now she hunts them down, but never anticipated that she'd fall in love with one of them. Kim Harrison delves deeper into the supernatural goings-on at the Hollows in The Good, the Bad and the Undead, an atmospheric tale that follows witch and bounty hunter, Rachel Morgan, as she tracks down more supernatural bad guys.
Seal Island
Debut author Marjorie Liu creates an interesting world of genies, shape shifters and magic in her novel, Tiger Eye. After purchasing a puzzle box at a Chinese bazaar, Dela releases ancient shape shifter, Hari. Together they must confront an evil magi bent on Hari's destruction. And Kate Brallier's first paranormal romance, Seal Island, puts an interesting twist on the legends of the Selkies, creatures that are part man and part seal.

Romance News

There’s been a lot happening the last few months. Last year Arabella romance magazine made a strong debut but (after only a few issues) were unable to keep their momentum going. This announcement is posted at their website - 'We regret to announce that Arabella Romance magazine will no longer be published in the near future. Though we had the proofs for our latest issue all set and ready to go, we were not able to raise enough money from investors to get it to the printers'. Let's hope they're able to find new investors and rally with a come-back - I thought the magazine had a lot going for it.

Two other publishing houses have decided to branch out into the romance genre. New American Library (an imprint of Penguin) introduces Eclipse, which will offer three titles per month that showcase historical, contemporary and romantic suspense titles from some of today's most popular authors. And Medallion Press presents its new romance imprint Jewel, divided into these sub-categories: Amethyst will focus on paranormal and fantasy, Ruby on contemporary, Emerald on romantic suspense, and Sapphire on historical titles.

Here's another pair of authors stretching their story-telling wings: Teresa Medeiros, who's written sumptuous historical romance for many years, is now adding a taste of the vampiric to her September release, After Midnight. And Kelley Armstrong, best known for her werewolf series, Bitten & Stolen, moves into the mainstream thriller genre with No Humans Involved - there's no firm release date on this one yet but we'll keep you posted.

Until next time ... happy Spring reading!

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