Are you ready for romance in the New Year? January’s selections will take you back to old friends and introduce fresh storylines sure to start 2010 with a bang.
An exciting adventure awaits in Joss Ware’s post-apocalyptic romance, Beyond the Night. Dr. Elliott Drake and four companions awaken after a 50-year sleep to discover their contemporary world has changed. Cities are gone and civilization nearly destroyed, while small outposts of people are threatened by zombie-like “gangas” and others known only as “Strangers.” As Elliott and friends travel about trying to fathom their new circumstances and abilities, they encounter a beautiful woman named Jade. Intrigued, Elliott is pleased to find her again in the town of Envy, where he becomes part of Jade’s group, bent on determining what forces changed the world and how they can defeat the Strangers who they suspect are out to destroy them. In these desolate times, Jade and Elliott learn to trust each other and find meaning through their love. Fast-paced and imaginative, this story sets up a compelling situation readers will look forward to revisiting in future books.
The pastor and the stripper
Returning to Robyn Carr’s small town of Virgin River in Forbidden Falls is a true pleasure. Newly minted pastor Noah Kincaid buys the tumbled-down church there and quickly finds himself rehabilitating more than an abandoned building. There’s the scruffy, injured dog he finds as well as the young woman who applies for the position of pastor’s assistant. Her resume is extensive . . . and includes a stint as a stripper. Sexy, funny and terminally optimistic, Ellie Baldwin is used to being down on her luck—but she’s in big trouble now with her children under the thumb of her controlling ex. She needs the respectable job and Noah needs someone committed to hard work. It seems to be an employer-employee match made in heaven, except when their feelings grow beyond business. Can a man-of-the-cloth make a future with a woman who used to take off her clothes? Carr’s story is peopled by characters with dimension and authentic dilemmas that make the happy ending just that much sweeter.
English beauty, stubborn Scotsman
Jude Deveraux offers a mid-18th-century historical romance set in Scotland and America in Days of Gold. Angus McTern is fascinated by English beauty Edilean Talbot, the niece of the man who owns the McTern clan’s ancestral home. Though McTerns still live on the land, they’re beholden to Edilean’s cruel uncle, who is determined to secure her inheritance for himself by marrying her off to one of his unpleasant friends. But Edilean is determined to outwit her uncle, and through a series of misfortunes and mishaps, she finds herself being rescued from the impending marriage by Angus—and on her way to America with him as her husband-in-name-only. Both part ways at journey’s end, though they’re not far from each other’s thoughts. Years pass before new threats to Angus and Edilean reunite them. Can Angus look past their class differences to acknowledge his feelings? Can Edilean trust him to stay by her side forever? Likeable characters and satisfying endings for a cast of supporting players make this a memorable read.
Kaki Warner’s western historical romance, Pieces of Sky, is a passionate tale about ties: to the land, to family and between lovers. In 1869, Englishwoman Jessica Thornton has left her home for the New Mexico Territory while carrying a terrible secret. A stagecoach accident requires that she rely on handsome-but-rough rancher Brady Wilkins, and she ends up recuperating at his home. The man’s strength and sensuality speak to her, even as she fears she’ll never come first in his heart. Brady Wilkins thinks Jessica is too delicate for life on the land he’s working so hard to hold onto, but his heart wants to hold onto her too. Can he make a compromise between the ranch he loves and the woman he wants? Warner has penned a gripping love story that portrays the life-or-death struggles that faced those trying to tame the frontier. Readers will look forward to upcoming novels about the other honorable and handsome Wilkins brothers.
Christie Ridgway writes contemporary romance from her home in Southern California.