Winter Romance Report: Under the Mistletoe By Martina Bexte (December, 2005)
The kids are asleep, the gifts are all wrapped, the cookies all baked. Colorful lights twinkle in the window and on the tree. It's snowing outside. Now all that's left to do is hang the mistletoe, grab a hot chocolate or spicy toddy and settle into your favorite chair with a good book. There are so many sparkling romances this holiday season. Where to begin? Here are a few suggestions for you to read under the mistletoe.
Reviewers Raves & Faves
Belle and Martina both loved Carrie Vaughn's Kitty and the Midnight Hour, a tale of troubled werewolves and vampires who become the talk of the town on late night radio. It's a slick, hip and often witty story that begs many sequels. Belle says, 'I loved the feisty, quick-witted heroine and the author's unique take on the usual paranormal fare'. Rashmi calls Kim Harrison's The Good, The Bad, And The Undead 'a fantastic addition to a successful chilling and thrilling paranormal suspense series.'
Marie recommends Snow White Bride by Claire Delacroix. And Kim enjoyed the chick lit collection, American Girls About Town with contributions from authors including Jennifer Weiner, Lauren Weisberger and Adriana Trigiani. She's also hooked on Emilie Richards' Shenandoah Album trilogy, the second of which is Endless Chain.
Amanda Scott's Prince of Danger is a Scottish adventure (set in 1379). Isobel, the most headstrong Macleod sister, is hunting a treasure with a man who's more than her match. Geralyn Dawson charms with her latest western romance, Her Scoundrel. In it the Bad Luck McBride Menaces are back; this time it's Kate's turn to break the family curse - will she find true love with a treasure hunter? Rosemary Rogers brings her many fans another exotic adventure and trademark alpha hero in Sapphire, a story set in the West Indies and London.
In Snow White Bride by Claire Delacroix, set in 1400s England, Alexander's sisters manipulate him into marrying an asylum seeking stranger. Susan Spencer Paul offers the next installment featuring the magical Seymour clan in Touch of Passion. This time Kian struggles with passion, treachery and magic to find his soul mate. Two Little Lies is another winner by Liz Carlyle - the youthful romance of Anthony and famous singer Viviana Alessandri cools. Ten years later their paths cross and this time Anthony cannot turn his back on the young widow. Catherine Anderson gives her many fans another poignant tale of the old west in Summer Breeze, where Rachel Hollister must learn to trust again after her family is murdered in an attack.
Set in post civil war Kansas, Carolyn Davidson's Redemption tells the tale of a disabled war veteran and widower who's forced to return to the world of the living when his young son's behaviour deteriorates. Best Kept Secrets, by Rochelle Alers, follows the stormy romance between WWI veteran Samuel Cole and Cuban beauty Marguerite Diaz. And in The Reluctant Miss Van Helsing, Minda Webber gives Stoker's Frankenstein a humorous Regency twist. Jane Van Helsing vows to stake her claim on Neil Asher, Earl of Wolverton - who also happens to be a dreaded vampire.
Mainstream & Contemporary
Robyn Harding's Journal of Mortifying Moments is a humorous chick lit story in which Kerry Spence talks about her life's most embarrassing moments. Jane Millionaire by debut author Janice Lynn, examines the question - can you find love in the crazy and often rehearsed world of reality TV? In Emily Carmichael's A New Leash on Life, dog trainer Jane Connor finds love amidst the competitive dog competition circuit. In Switched, Bothered and Bewildered, Suzanne Macpherson takes two identical twins (one a suburban mom and the other a high-powered toy company exec) and switches them for a week with amusing results.
Barbara Taylor Bradford's Just Rewards, the conclusion to her popular Harte family series, follows the lives of Emma Harte's grandchildren and the machinations within their department store empire. What happens when a suburban mom accidentally combines various household cleaners? The toxic cocktail changes her forever, as she explains in Confessions of a Super Mom by Melanie Lynne Hauser. In Beth Kendrick's Fashionably Late, Becca Davis tosses safe out the window and decides to follow a new path of life-changing discoveries in love and in her career.
If you're in the mood for something sweet and delicious, then sample Blame It On Chocolate by Jennifer Greene. Botanist Lucy Fitzhenry is much too responsible for her own liking and would like nothing better than to get a little wild and wicked with her chocolate company's delicious owner. Mr. Destiny by Candy Halliday looks at modern love vs. old country superstition. Nonna Petrocelli predicts how and when her grandson will find his true love. When her words come true it's up to Anthony to convince Kate Anderson that they were meant to be together.
Mystery & Suspense
Christina Skye continues her SEAL series with Code Name: Baby. Dog trainer Kit O'Halloran and her four genetically enhanced lab pups are the unwitting targets of a rogue agent intent on blowing the lid on government secrets. Nora Roberts rounds out her In the Garden series with Red Lily where the motivations of the ghostly Harper Bride are finally revealed as the romance between Harper Ashley and Hayley Philips escalates. Darker than Midnight offers more of Maggie Shayne's great blend of suspense and paranormal. Cassandra Jackson goes back to her hometown with hopes of taking over as police chief only to find herself involved in an old murder.
T.J. MacGregor's Category Five finds psychic Mira Morales trying to outwit escaped cons in the midst of a deadly hurricane. Murder Uncorked opens a new amateur sleuth series by debut author Michele Scott in the Napa Valley. Nikki Sands stumbles across a body her first day on the job and she and winery owner, Derek Malveaux, must work together to unmask the killer. Karen Rose, Annie Solomon and Carla Cassidy team up for a triple-tag in their January anthology, Hot Pursuit. Rose's story finds two old flames on the run from danger. Solomon's has her heroine caught up with the mob, while Cassidy's contribution follows a cop on the run from a contract killer.
Sue Grafton is back with S is For Silence, another top-notch Kinsey Malone mystery. J.D. Robb gives readers another snapshot into Eve's shady past in Memory In Death. Foster care worker Trudy Lombard says she wants to renew her acquaintance with Eve but is really after some of Roarke's billions. When she's murdered, Eve and her team must figure out why. Catch Me When I Fall is another riveting suspense by Nikki French that takes readers on a disturbing journey with Holly Kraus as her life unravels around her. And in Malpractice in Maggody by Joan Hess, police chief Arly Hanks is back investigating a shady murder at a former retirement home.
Fantasy, Paranormal & SF Romance
Mortal Danger by Eileen Wilks continues her intriguing werewolf series, following the adventures of Maggie Yu (of the Magical Crimes Unit) and her stormy relationship with her Lupus mate. Rachel Caine returns with another Weather Warden story in Windfall. Joanne Baldwin's life is spiraling out of control: her Djinn lover David is still recovering from a nasty run in with demons and now the truce between the powerful Djinn and humans is unraveling - putting Joanne right in the thick of things again!
Disappearing Nightly is a delightfully amusing romantic fantasy by Laura Resnick where actress Esther Diamond and an odd little wizard are trying to figure out why performers are disappearing into thin air. Cheyenne McCray's Forbidden Magic is a steamy blend of myth, magic and the conflict between gray witch Silver Ashcroft and sexy warrior Hawk. In Michelle Rowen's Bitten & Smitten, Sarah Dearly's blind date goes seriously awry. She ends up dead, is resurrected as a vampire and must now learn the ropes from the bored and suicidal 600-year-old bloodsucker. Shadows of Prophecy, Rachel Lee's second installment in her Ilduin series, follows Tess and Sara as they continue their journey to Anahar, where they hope to find more about their true heritage.
In Patricia Simpson's second TOR romance, The Dark Horse, cryptographer Claire Coulter and exec Tobias Benton head to the California desert seeking the fountain of youth. Lynsay Sands brings her fans another story featuring the Argeneau vampire family - in A Quick Bite, Lissianna Argeneau's concerned mother presents her to psychologist Gregory Hewitt, hoping he will help Liss overcome her blood phobia. Carolyn Jewel offers another installment in the Crimson City series, A Darker Crimson - cop Claudia Donovan finds herself caught up in the battle between vampires and demons. And the prolific Christine Feehan brings her many fans another Ghostwalkers episode, Night Game.
A Romantic Twelve Days of Christmas
Christmas is the busiest time of the year for many of us, but who says we can't fantasize about spending the holidays reading one romance a day!
Start on day 1 with Mary Jo Putney's Christmas Revels, which offers five previously published short stories, both contemporary and historical, to add joy and romance to the holiday season. On day 2, have tissues handy for Comfort & Joy, another tearjerker from Kristen Hannah where a bitter divorcée finds a new lease on life after walking away from a plane crash. Day 3 and it's time for Jennifer Chiaverini's The Christmas Quilt, another in the Elm Street Quilt series - elderly Sylvia Compson is determined to have a boring holiday at Elm Street Manor but her young friend has other ideas.
On day 4, go for A Catered Christmas by Isis Crawford - sisters Libby and Bernie, who run a catering business, compete in one of those Iron Chef contests during the holiday. When the contest sponsor is killed by an exploding oven, the sisters investigate (the recipes are a bonus!) Day 5, it's time to Come Home For Christmas - Pat Pritchard wrote this western historical, which is full of adventure and tells the story of a lawman who gives a troubled teen another chance. On the 6th day, There's Something About Christmas is another charmer from perennial favourite, Debbie Macomber. And here's a twist - her main character, journalist Emma Collins hates Christmas. Things only get worse after she's assigned to do a story about the finalists in a fruitcake recipe!
Day 7, let's head towards A Covington Christmas, Joan Mendicott's delightful cozy where the Covington gals step in to organize Christmas weddings when it's discovered that a former pastor performed illegal marriages. On the 8th day we have Donna VanLiere's The Christmas Hope, a poignant sequel to The Christmas Shoes and The Christmas Blessing. Lighten up on day 9 with Carly Alexander's The Secret Life of Mrs. Claus - a lively collection of stories where Mrs. Claus and what she's wearing tie everything together with a cheery red bow.
On day 10, try Rituals of the Season, a nifty Deborah Knott mystery by Margaret Maron - Christmas and Deborah's wedding are only weeks away when the suspicious death of the ADA casts a pall over the festivities. Day 11 must be time for Scenes From a Holiday, a breezy chick lit anthology. As well as the title story it includes The Eight Dates of Hanukah, Carrie Pillby's New Year's Resolution and Emma Townsend Saves Christmas. Finally for the 12th day what else but This Christmas? Jane Green, Jennifer Coburn and Liz Ireland team up in another anthology that showcases warm, family oriented holiday stories.
Merry Christmas to All!!
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