It’s the first vacation month of the summer and these romantic titles will take you away . . . no matter how close to home you stay.

Deep Down by Karen Harper takes the reader to the woods of Kentucky where heroine Jessie Lockwood’s mother is missing. Though Jesse is a Ph.D., her mother is a simple Appalachian country woman involved in the counting of endangered ginseng plants—which are prized for their special qualities, especially in the Asian marketplace. Returning home to help in the search, Jessie reunites with old friends, who may now be enemies of her mother. Assisting her is the local sheriff, Drew Webb, the man Jessie loved and lost a dozen years before. Can these two reconcile what once tore them apart while solving the puzzles that continue to crop up in their tiny town? More mystery than romance, the backdrop of the “sang” (ginseng) trade is intriguing and the suspects are as thick as the surrounding woods.

Hanky read
Harriet Evans’ The Love of Her Life is a heart-tugging tale of love timed wrong. Three years before, Londoner Kate Miller had a great job, the perfect fiancé and friends who loved her. Then, just as she’s planning her wedding, her good life explodes in her face. She flees to her mother and stepfather in New York, and only braves a return to her old stomping grounds when her father becomes seriously ill. Kate has to face past tragedies, past loves and old friends in order to truly move on with her life. The story unspools in a page-turning fashion and Kate is easy to care about—and cry for. Peopled with well-rounded characters and compelling dilemmas, the story will have readers sighing, hoping and finally smiling. A read both entertaining and emotional; tissues at hand highly recommended.

Magic man
Fans of historical romance have a sexy and fun offering this month from Sabrina Jeffries. The fifth in her Regency-set School for Heiresses series, Don’t Bargain with the Devil has the finishing school agog when a world-famous magician, Diego Montalvo, moves next door. Rumor has it that he plans a scandalous pleasure garden on the property and heroine Lucy Seton, once a student and now a teacher at the school, will not have it! She’s determined to discover if the gossip is true—and if it is, to do what she must to prevent any damage to the school’s reputation. However, Diego isn’t eager to quell Lucy’s fears. Instead, he cultivates her curiosity in order to determine if she’s the long-lost granddaughter of a Spanish marqués he’s been hired to find. Diego and Lucy uncover something unexpected though—an attraction that takes them from England to Spain and from desire to love. Including hidden family relationships, a sensual hero and an intrepid heroine, this story is briskly paced and spiked with passion.

Striking sensuality
The erotic and eerie combine in Emma Holly’s Kissing Midnight, an installment of the Fitz Clare Chronicles. In 1930s London, Edmund Fitz Clare is keeping something big from his children and the young woman, Estelle Berenger, who has come to live with them. Edmund’s a shape-shifting vampire and he’s sworn that his secret won’t affect or harm the happy family that he’s built. But as his children reach adulthood he finds it harder to keep his vow, and keep away from the lovely Estelle. She’s been in love with Edmund since she was a teenager and now she senses that he’s not immune to her either. His defenses battered by desire, Edmund reaches for Estelle just as a vampire from a rival bloodline becomes his enemy. While that vampire works to turn his son against him, Edmund and Estelle fall more deeply in love. But a commitment to each other doesn’t forestall the gathering danger. The book ends with a cliffhanger and a question as to whether the bond of the hero and heroine can survive the trial to come. Holly’s writing brims with sexy scenes and haunting emotion, and readers will clamor for next month’s subsequent installment in the series.

Christie Ridgway writes contemporary romance from Southern California. Her latest release, Dirty Sexy Knitting, is on the shelves this month.

 

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