by Christie RidgwayDecember 2008
A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas is a wonderful gift to give yourself or the romance lover in your life. An addition to her popular Wallflowers quartet, this novella stands alone, yet fans of the series will enjoy brief glimpses into the lives of their favorite characters. American Rafe Bowman travels to England with the purpose of courting and marrying the blue - blooded Lady Natalie. Her companion, Hannah Appleton, worries that the handsome man may not be good husband material and her concerns are underscored when Rafe gives Hannah a scorching kiss at their first meeting. There's just something about the thoughtful and pretty companion that makes Rafe want to forget his bargain with his father and give up the notion of an aristocratic bride. As the holidays play out, Hannah and Rafe's attraction grows. Sweet and sensual, this story of a man and a woman learning about love is a perfect Christmas treat.
A MARRIAGE MADE REAL
The presence of Isidore, Duchess of Cosway, at a notorious house party has finally lured her husband-by-proxy, Simeon Jermyn, out of Africa in When the Duke Returns by Eloisa James. Though they've never met in the 11 years of their marriage, Isidore is thrilled. She wants her husband by her side so she can be a proper duchess and ultimately a mother. But Simeon's not so happy. His travels have taught him the benefits of complete self - control, and life in England challenges his ability to keep his baser emotions at bay. There's not only the anger he feels at the shambles his family estate has become, but the lust he can't tamp down for the beautiful, sensual Isidore. The delight of the story is in how two very different people learn to negotiate their relationship and in doing so discover their love for each other. Appealing secondary characters from earlier installments of the Desperate Duchesses series add another layer of poignancy to this most excellent romance.
WICKED, WICKED WAYS
For those who like their romance with a darker edge, there's Lydia Joyce's Wicked Intentions. In Victorian London, spiritualists are all the rage and "Esmeralda" has gained the trust of the mother of Thomas Hyde, Viscount Varcourt. Thomas fears that the enigmatic Esmeralda is exploiting his mother's grief over his brother's mysterious death years ago. But as he watches the veiled beauty with cynical skepticism, another kind of interest ignites inside him. Though he treats her with suspicion, Esmeralda cannot stifle her growing attraction for Thomas. He's right, she's using his family, but not for the reasons Thomas believes. The heroine has a dark and covert agenda of her own that she must fulfill in order to find peace. As their secrets collide, they are forced to face their pasts and their heated feelings for each other. Joyce tells a tale of high stakes and unbridled passion.
ROMANCE OF THE MONTH
After 10 years of writing suspense novels, Iris Johansen returns to medieval historical fiction with The Treasure. Kadar Ben Arnaud has lived in Scotland for years, patiently waiting for Lady Selene Ware to grow up. But Selene herself is out of patience. Now that she's 17 years old, she wants Kadar to marry her, but he's not convinced the time is right for them. He craves her trust, something that Selene finds difficult to give after her grueling childhood. But when old promises cause Kadar to leave for Syria, Selene is also caught up in the chilling plot of the powerful and superstitious assassin, Nasim. Now Kadar and Selene must work together to determine who is friend and who is foe, what is fact and what is legend. Intriguing secondary characters people Kadar and Selene's world, but their fated love is the beating heart of this robust romantic adventure.