Winter Romance Report By Martina Bexte (November, 2004)
The holidays are fast approaching and, judging from the decorations popping up everywhere, people are getting into the spirit of the season. Whether you're looking for gift ideas for those booklovers on your list or need a few more titles to add to your own romance reading pile, Santa says you'll find exactly what you're looking for.
Reviewers' Raves and Faves
Kim's number one pick this time is Elise Juska's The Hazards of Sleeping Alone, a marvelous mother/daughter story that tugs at the emotions. Melissa recommends Melody Carlson's The Gift of Christmas Present as an uplifting holiday story, and says that she found At The Scent of Water by Linda Nichols was wonderful too. Fantasy writer Holly Lisle makes one heck of a debut in the romantic suspense genre with Midnight Rain, a taut, well-written and truly scary novel that should be read with all the lights on. And don't miss Industrial Magic, the latest installment in Kelley Armstrong's funky Women of the Otherworld series.
Christmas is the theme in Victoria Alexander's A Visit From Sir Nicholas - Nick and Lizzie reunite after ten years apart and despite his telling her to forget him, their passion ignites all over again. Foxfire Bride is a wonderful new historical western by veteran Maggie Osbourne. In it, Matthew Tanner must deliver his father's ransom and needs a guide to get him from Reno to Denver. But when he hires 'Fox', he doesn't expect a woman.
Julianne MacLean rounds out her Wilson Sisters trilogy with My Own Private Hero. Adele prefers logic over love - until she meets Damien Renshaw, who sets aflame her most secret and wanton desires. Rosemary Rogers brings her legion of fans Jewel of My Heart, an exciting tale that follows Madison and Jefford from the drawing rooms of London to island uprisings in Jamaica. And in Must Have Been the Moonlight, Melody Thomas introduces readers to 'modern thinking' Brianna and adventure seeker Major Michael Fallon as they travel a road to love that's fraught with danger.
Mainstream & Contemporary
Nora Roberts begins a brand new trilogy that focuses on three strong women who share the responsibilities of running a successful nursery. The first installment, Blue Dahlia, follows widow Stella Rothchild and her two young sons - they pull up old roots and sink new ones at the Harper Mansion only to find that an unhappy ghost has other plans for them. Mary McBride revisits Heart Lake and the Simon sisters, in Say It Again, Sam. Sam Mendenhall has never gotten over Beth Simon but when she comes back to her hometown to open a bed and breakfast he knows she's the only one who can mend his broken heart.
Marliss Melton's Forget Me Not follows the story of Navy Seal Gabe Renault's return from the dead. With no memory of his last mission or the driven, hard man he'd been, he's given the chance to rediscover the love that he and his wife shared. And in a toast to some of today's up-and-coming chick lit authors, Downtown Press has put together a worthy collection of stories entitled In One Year and Out the Other.
Romantic Mystery & Suspense
Maggie Shayne returns with the second installment of her Young Believers series in Colder Than Ice, the story of cult survivor Elizabeth Marcum and the cop who almost killed her during a raid seventeen years before. Holly Lisle writes a riveting thriller in Midnight Rain - Phoebe has survived the horrors of an abusive husband but then the phone calls start and she knows that this time she can't escape Michael's fury. Donna Andrews' Access Denied is a complex and humorous story about an 'artificially intelligent personality' and her two human companions, Maude and Tim. They combine forces to thwart a technological mastermind.
Recurring characters make Carla Neggars' latest, The Rapids, another tense and fast-paced romantic suspense, as US Marshall Rob Dunmore pursues the man who tried to kill him. And for those of you who need to sneak in a good paranormal romance during the Ho, Ho, Ho season, keep your eye out for Hunter's Moon by new writing duo C. T. Adams and Cathy Clamp. Though hit man (and newly turned werewolf ) Tony Giodone kills people for a living, when Sue Quentin asks him to snuff out her 'miserable life' he discovers that he just can't do it.
Stuff Your Stockings with These Christmas Stories
The Gift beautifully packages two of Nora Roberts' early and very heart-warming stories, Home For Christmas and All I Want For Christmas. Joanne Fluke's Sugar Cookie Murder is not only a great murder mystery, it's also filled with mouthwatering holiday recipes. In Jingle Bell Bark by Lauren Berenson, Melanie Travis tutors at a private school where dogs are welcome and finds herself investigating the mysterious death of the school's bus driver.
Laurie Brown's The Christmas Wedding follows the fun and the hard work of getting married during the holiday season, as does Sandra Madden's Kiss Me at Christmas, another of her delightful Regency romances. Luanne Rice pens a poignant tale in Silver Bells, about a Nova Scotia Christmas tree farmer's quest to find his runaway son. And reader favorite Debbie Macomber spins another wonderfully homespun holiday tale in When Christmas Comes.
If you can only find time for shorter stories this Yuletide season here are a few suggestions: Happy Holidays presents two Christmas reprints by romance diva Janet Daily. Christmas Secrets is a winning anthology, in which three couples in different situations receive the gift of love for the holidays. Claudia Dain, Dee Davis and Evelyn Rogers team up in Silent Night to present three wintry suspense tales. Funny, poignant and delightful define Shop 'til Yule Drop, three Christmas shopping tales by Alesia Holliday, Naomi Neale and Stephanie Rowe. The American West is the setting for three historical tales in One Starry Christmas. Men in the military are the focus of A Soldier's Christmas which combines the talents of Rachel Lee, Merline Lovelace and Catherine Mann. And Mistletoe and Mayhem presents a variety of genres by writers Fern Michaels, Linda Lael Miller, Theresa Alan and Jane Blackwood.