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Spring Romance Report: A Riot of Romantic Reading
By Martina Bexte (March, 2006)

2006 is already shaping up to be a banner year for romance as the genre continues evolving. Favorite authors are not only bringing their fans the trademark stories they crave, they're also turning their creative talents to pen stories that are a little different or that straddle genres. And there are plenty of new voices debuting this year, a trend that bodes well for continued fresh, lively and entertaining romance reading!

Reviewers Raves & Faves

The BurningMarie couldn't decide between Paula Quinn's Lord of Temptation set in Norman England, and Julie Anne Long's Beauty and the Spy, a lush Regency tale of espionage and love. Belle heaps praise on by Lisa Jackson's Fatal Burn, 'an engrossing tale of guilt and redemption, written in Jackson's uniquely captivating style'. She also loved The Barbed Rose by Gail Dayton, second in the Compass Rose series, which 'proved even more captivating, vivid and emotional than the first. The characters in this continuing series are first-rate!'

Melissa enjoyed inspirational stories. She calls Grace in Thine Eyes by Liz Curtis Higgs 'the best I've read in a while'; and found On This Day an enjoyable wedding-themed read. Martina gives a thumbs way way up to Susan Squires' The Burning, the third in her marvelously rich and beautifully written historical vampire series that showcases the idealistic Stephan Sincai and his circuitous path to absolution and long-sought-after love. And on the lighter side, You Only Love Twice hits all the right comedic notes as a navy SEAL and an introverted comic book writer discover that fiction and real life can sometimes collide with all sorts of crazy results.

Historical Romance

Susan Carroll presents The Silver Rose, the wonderful conclusion to her trilogy in which the Cheney sisters battle against the Dark Queen. This time witch hunter Simon Aristide is searching for a coven that practices the black arts and only the gifted Miri Cheney can help him. Julie Ann Long's Beauty and the Spy is the first book in a new trilogy where spy Kit Whitelaw and artist Susannah Makepeace discover love and plenty of adventure as Kit investigates a decades-old government conspiracy. Celeste Bradley continues her wonderful Royal Four series in One Night With a Spy, where spymaster Marcus Ramsay must decide whether to expose the Fox or marry her.

The ScoundrelLisa Plumley continues her charming Morrow Creek series with The Scoundrel. Confirmed bachelor Daniel McCabe has his hands full taking care of his nephew and decides it's time to find a wife - who better than his childhood friend, Sarah Crabtree? The talented Kinley MacGregor puts an alternate reality twist on the Camelot mythology in Sword of Darkness, creating a dark, paranormal world where anything is possible. Sarah McKerrigan's Lady Danger, first of the Warrior Maids of Rivenloch, follows the action-packed and romantic exploits of three warrior sisters in medieval Scotland.

Bobbi Smith rewards her many fans with another satisfying western romance in Defiant, where gunslinger Kane McCullough rides into Dry Springs to exact revenge against the killers of his family. The Rogue's Return by Jo Beverley is set alternately in Canada and England, where dark secrets threaten the lives of Simon St. Bride and his lady, Jane Otterburn. And in My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys, Georgina Gentry, Teresa Bodwell and Lorraine Heath offer stories that highlight the continuing appeal of the rugged riders of the American west.

Mainstream & Contemporary

Kristen Hannah dazzles with another powerful story in Magic Hour, where psychiatrist Julia Cates must work past her self-doubt to unlock secrets hidden away within a young kidnap victim's traumatized mind. Jodie Pocoult delivers another profound story in The Tenth Circle, looking at what happens to a family when their teenage daughter is raped. Allison Rushby's The Dairy Queen, set in an Australian town called Moo, follows the lives of three friends, each of whom has a major life problem to sort through.

Sex, Lies, and Online DatingRachel Gibson is back with another winner in Sex, Lies, and Online Dating where a mystery writer researching online dating finds herself under scrutiny by an undercover cop on the hunt for a killer. Brenda Scott Royce's Monkey Love follows the crazy and often hilarious life of Holly Heckerling as she copes with her family and assorted animal friends. Susan Mallery's Delicious begins a scrumptious new series in which a divorced couple re-discover their love after becoming partners in a restaurant business.

Marianne Stillings rolls out another winner in Sighs Matter, continuing the story of Taylor McKennitt and Dr. Claire Hunter. She wants to forget all about their one blistering encounter, but when someone tries to kill Claire, Taylor is determined to protect her. Talk Gertie to Me is Lois Winston's delightful story about a mom's mid-life crisis, her daughter's attempts to help, and the childhood imaginary friend who keeps derailing their progress.

Susan Wiggs pens another poignant family-oriented story in Table for Five, where two complete strangers become instant parents after three children are orphaned. And in Lara Rios's Becoming Latina in 10 Easy Steps, animator Marcela Alvarez takes her family's suggestion to 'follow her Mexican heritage' to heart, with funny and heartwarming results.

Mystery & Suspense

You Can't HideYou Can't Hide is Karen Rose's latest gritty romantic suspense - when psychiatrist Tess Ciccotelli's patients begin dying, it soon becomes clear that someone is helping them commit suicide - will Tess be next? Lisa Jackson's exciting story, Fatal Burn, explores the dark family secrets surrounding a young kidnap victim named Dani. Can her biological mother and adoptive father find her before it's too late? In Carla Cassidy's thriller, Are You Afraid? is the question psychologist and radio talk show host Jessica Langford asks herself after a caller leaves frightening messages that trigger horrific events from her past.

Rita Herron's In a Heartbeat is a chilling tale of a woman who escapes a brutal serial killer only to become a copycat's prey. Kasey Michaels is back with another amusing mystery in High Heels and Homicide, where screenwriter Maggie Kelly begins to wonder what's going on when members of a movie production team end up dead. You Only Love Twice is a charming, and often hilarious story about a comic book writer whose far out tales featuring Angelina Avenger become the blueprint for a bunch of bloodthirsty thugs. Lisa Gardner follows another chapter in the lives of two of her most popular and intense characters, Rainie Conner and FBI profiler Pierce Quincy, in Gone. This time Rainie is abducted and it takes all Quincy's skill and patience to find her.

Annie Solomon brings her many fans another stellar read in Blackout where a mild mannered book dealer is implicated in a murder, which leads her to her true identity. In Shirley Damsgaard's Charmed to Death, psychic Ophelia Jensen consults a set of runes to discover clues about her best friend's murder. And Allison Brennan offers the first in a triple-thriller-trilogy in The Prey - FBI-agent-turned-writer Rowan Smith's life turns upside down when a killer begins using the plots of her books as blueprints for heinous murders.

Fantasy, Paranormal & SF Romance

Parallel AttractionSusan Squires continues her exemplary historical paranormal series with The Burning. Stephan Sincai was the evil Asharti's mentor and allowed her to live and create made vampires. To atone he must hunt down and destroy her army of killers, but his deadly mission is compromised by the lovely Ann Van Helsing. Gail Dayton offers The Barbed Rose, book two in her One Rose trilogy, where shape shifter Kirra must choose between love or duty to her country.

In Judith Saintcrow's Working For the Devil, necromancer Dante Valentine faces a no-win situation when she makes a deal with the devil himself to eliminate a renegade demon. Newcomer Deidre Knight will wow readers with her nifty world building in Parallel Attraction, the story of an exiled king fighting for freedom and love across the boundaries of time. Under Camelot's Banner by Sarah Zettel once again brings the intrigues of Arthur's mythical kingdom into the spotlight with Lady Lynet's struggle to save her small kingdom. C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp start a brand new paranormal series in Touch of Evil, where a young woman must remain one step ahead of the Thrall Vampires or be pulled into their evil realm as the next Queen.

Full Moon Rising is newcomer Keri Arthur's look at the dark world of Melbourne's Directorate of Other Races, where the challenges and passions facing werewolves and vampires are constantly tested. Liz Maverick rounds out the Crimson City series in Crimson Rogue, where part man/part machine Finn rescues an agent from a demonic underworld. Kim Harrison, Lynsay Sands, Lori Handeland and Kelley Armstrong team up in Dates From Hell, where - you guessed it - their heroines' dates literally arise from the nether regions. And Mary Janice Davidson presents three stories featuring vampires and werewolves from her previous series in another hilarious and fun-filled read, Dead and Loving It.

Romance News & Author Announcements

Check out a brand new BookLoons e-interview with Karen Rose whose captivating and intricate romantic suspense novels continue topping the charts. Her April release, You Can't Hide is set to hit bookstores in just a few days.

We've also just featured a chat with agent and debut paranormal author, Deidre Knight, whose first release, Parallel Attraction is already creating plenty of positive buzz. She talks about her role as agent and author and shares insights into why paranormals are so hot right now.

Speaking of hot paranormals, Harlequin/Silhouette is introducing yet another new line this coming October. Editorial director Tara Gavin says the Nocturne series will publish two books per month and that each story 'will deliver a dark and very sexy read that will entertain readers and take them from everyday life to an atmospheric, complex, paranormal world filled with characters struggling with life and death issues'. Reliable sources say that Kathleen Korbel (aka Eileen Dreyer) is working on the debut title.

Erotic romance has taken off in a big way over the last year and a few more lines are revving up summer debuts for this hot and hungry market - including Avon Red and Harlequin Spice.

Karen Chance invites readers to check out her new website, where there's lots of information and buzz about her June paranormal release, Touch the Dark.

Attention Nora Roberts fans!! Mandalay Television will join with Lifetime TV to turn four of Roberts' best-selling novels into original movies over the course of the next year. Titles being considered are: Blue Smoke, Carolina Moon, Montana Sky, The Villa, Brazen Virtue and River's End.

Have a riot with romantic spring reading!!
Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.