January offers a delightful variety of romance, with new worlds, historical settings, familiar-but-favorite storylines and enough sizzle to compensate for the falling temperatures.
In Running Hot author Jayne Ann Krentz brings her Arcane Society—a secret organization of those with paranormal abilities—into a modern-day setting. Ex-cop and Arcane society member Luther Malone takes on the job of bodyguard for aura-reader and librarian Grace Renquist. Her task: to track down a certain person at a Hawaiian resort and determine if he's a serial killer. But Luther and Grace uncover more than just one man with murderous tendencies—and as they investigate this larger mystery they learn more about each other's powers as well as the powerful attraction between them. Fast-paced, with a fascinating premise and with characters—big and small—that spring to life on the page, Running Hot will keep the reader turning pages as well as looking forward to more entries in the Arcane Society series.
One sweet knight
Meg Cabot offers a frolicking medieval romance, Ransom My Heart, in the guise of her fictional character Princess Mia Thermopolis of Genovia (of Princess Diaries fame). Irrepressible Finnula Crais, young expert huntress with a shadowed past, succumbs to a sister's pleading to find a man. A man, that is, that Finnula can kidnap and ransom in order to restore her older sister's spent dowry. Tough on the outside, but soft on the inside, Finnula agrees, and through a delightful series of events captures a handsome knight on his way home from the Holy Land. Hugo has a secret, but it doesn't stop him from falling in with the adventurous Finnula's plan, or falling in love. When the pair's secrets and shadows are revealed, complications abound, and attempts on Hugo's life threaten Finnula as well as the happy ending they seek.
A friends-to-lovers story always delights, and Janice Maynard's Hot Mail follows the tried-and-true course of the popular plot line: a couple who have known each other for years is awoken to the fact that they share more than platonic feelings. In Maynard's story, the threats to heroine Jane Norman's small-town Tennessee stationery shop make assistant chief of police Ethan Oldham take a second look at his old buddy. But the situation is complicated by the sexy valentines that Ethan is receiving from an anonymous local woman—and Jane isn't about to let him know that it's her. She had decided to make a move on him just as circumstances brought them together, and she doesn't want to end the fun of sending him suggestive poetry nor jeopardize this apparent new chance with the man she's loved from afar. Though there's plenty of steam here, the tentativeness of a new relationship is also portrayed in this romance, making it sure to please those who like their stories both emotional and hot. A subplot involving Ethan's older sister Sherry and a younger police officer add to the spice of this book, which proves that little towns do not lack for scorching passion.
In the shadows
Readers looking to enter another world can find it within Jacquelyn Frank's Ecstasy: The Shadowdwellers. After a horrific car accident, Ashla Townsend finds herself alone in New York City. Completely alone. Although there is food available and stores open, she sees no one else and senses no others. When she begins to wonder if she's lost her mind, a violent fight between two warriors crashes into her existence. One is killed, and as the other appears to be dying, Ashla unleashes her secret—and sometimes shameful—talent of healing. Trace, an important advisor to the powerful in the Shadowdweller's political realm, is fascinated by the woman who saves his life. She's a puzzle he can't solve, and it's only as she enters his environment that they both come to understand her special gift and then its surprising source. Frank's paranormal romance is both sexy and stylized, and promises further forays into an intriguing world.
Christie Ridgway writes contemporary romance from her home in Southern California.