Romance readers love a marriage of convenience, and an ancient Irish myth is the motivation for the wedding in Bride of a Wicked Scotsman by Samantha James. Lady Maura O’Donnell pledges to restore the fortunes of her family and her people by recovering the fabled Circle of Light, which was stolen two centuries before by a pirate known as the Black Scotsman. She’ll do anything to get it back—even tricking the pirate’s descendant, Alec McBride, Duke of Gleneden, into bed and then into saying “I do.” The Irish lady travels with her groom to his home in Scotland, hoping to find the relic. Instead, she finds herself falling for the dashing Alec. Even while the duke curses himself for wedding a woman he’s sure is after his money, he’s still attracted to his lovely bride. As he comes to know Maura, Alec is no longer certain she’s so mercenary—he’s just certain that he’ll do anything to bring their growing passion to fruition. A story of hot passion and cursed pasts, of tragic deaths and unexpected happiness, this is a historical romance to savor.

Life and love

The latest in Susan Wiggs’ Lakeshore Chronicles, Fireside, returns the reader to the small town of Avalon and the familiar community and characters surrounding Willow Lake. After an ugly break-up with her client/boyfriend in L.A., Kimberly van Dorn arrives on the doorstep of her mother’s lodging house to restart her life. She’s not sure what she’s going to do next, but whatever it is, it surely won’t involve a professional athlete. She didn’t anticipate that there would be a fellow guest in her mother’s home. Baseball hopeful Bo Crutcher is a charming man’s man—almost too attractive for a father just getting to know his 12-year-old son. Both father and boy tug at Kim’s heart, but there are hard choices to be made in this story that explores the sacrifices inherent in parenting. Engrossing, with endearing characters and meaty dilemmas, this romance shows the reader that while happy endings are not always easy to come by, they are worth reaching for.

Riches and risk
Sexy and suspenseful, Jami Alden’s Kept  tells the story of a beautiful celebrity heiress and the bodyguard who—reluctantly—believes in her. Alyssa Miles is the illegitimate progeny of a supermodel and the head of a jewelry empire. She’s cleaned up her bad-girl act and has become the face of her father’s successful ad campaign when tragedy strikes her family. However, what looks like a murder-suicide may instead be something even darker, and Alyssa is unsure who she can trust. Security expert Derek Taggart thinks he’s drawn the short stick when he’s assigned babysitting duties for a woman he considers a society brat at best. Her reputation as a party girl makes it hard for him to sympathize with the beauty, but his libido has its own demands. As Alyssa and Derek get closer, so does danger—and they’re not sure they’ll survive long enough to see where their passion leads. Fast-paced, with scenes of bad baddies and earthy lovemaking, Kept is an exciting story of blood diamonds and a rich girl at risk of death—and love.

Cin and shivers
Cin Craven—witch, vampire and warrior—returns in the paranormal historical Grave Sins, by Jenna Maclaine, set in the early 1800s. Thirteen years after coming together, the four Righteous, a group of slayers tasked with destroying rogue vampires, have a new mission. The High King of the vampires requires them to look into the case of humans who are being killed in Edinburgh—allegedly by Marrakesh, the Queen of the Western Lands. Is the vampire royal going mad, or is there some other nefarious force at work? Cin and her friends are a compelling group, and the energetic first-person narration immediately engages the reader’s interest. While much of the action revolves around the vampires’ task, adding dimension to the story is Cin’s emotional struggle with the man she loves. Their personal drama grows as the outward danger increases. Fascinating creatures abound, but the strong Cin and her relationship with her sexy lover Michael are the stars of this otherworldly story. 


Christie Ridgway writes contemporary romance from her home in Southern California.

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