Reading a Rachel Gibson romance is as spirit-boosting as an afternoon of retail therapy. And in Not Another Bad Date, it's heroine Adele Harris whose spirits need lifting. Sure that she's cursed thanks to a succession of worse-than-dud dates, Adele is not that unhappy to be back in her hometown and caring for her niece while her sister is hospitalized with a difficult pregnancy. Until she runs into her first love and first lover, retired professional football player Zach Zemaitis. Now a high school coach, Zach has never forgotten Adele, and Adele has never forgotten Zach - or the way he broke her heart. The chemistry between the two is not a thing of memories, however. But while Adele tries to keep her heart in line and Zach tries to keep things light, there's also a mean-girl ghost of a former wife who would like nothing better than to keep them apart. You'll turn the last page of this funny, sexy story and feel as good as a day at the mall - without the credit card hangover!

Imaginative, romantic and exciting all describe Jessica Andersen's Nightkeepers, the first in a new series titled "The Final Prophecy." The Nightkeepers are a line of magi dedicated to saving the world from the upcoming end times as predicted by the Mayan calendar. They're a small band, led by a reluctant king, and their current task is complicated by Miami narcotics detective Leah Daniels - and the attraction the group's leader, Strike, feels for her. Romance, Mayan legend and the history of this magic-wielding group are woven together in a well-paced, action-filled story. Readers will encounter blood sacrifice and demons and gods, but also characters who wish they could be ordinary, grappling with the fact that the world's survival relies on their extraordinary talents. A large cast gives this book a rich feel and bodes well for more apocalyptic battles and emotion-charged romance to come in this compelling series.

The operatives of Elizabeth Lowell's St. Kilda's Consulting group are always faced with fascinating cases, and the one Zach Balfour draws in Blue Smoke and Murder is no exception. When river guide Jill Breck's great-aunt dies, she discovers a dozen paintings that may or may not be the work of a famous Western artist - but clearly someone is willing to kill to get them. When Jill contacts St. Kilda's, Zach gets the assignment. He knows something about art, but is surprised to find how much he's attracted to the woman who owns these particular pieces. As the sexual tension heats up, so does the action, and Zach and Jill must dodge lethal danger while gathering needed information. The plot moves at a brisk pace as does the romance between the two smart and capable leads.

Lynn Kurland's With Every Breath is a romantic and heart-wringing read. When a handsome man drags American Sunshine Phillips into 14th-century Scotland, she's not as surprised as she might be. Family and friends have told her about gates into time that exist all around the contemporary highlands estate where she lives. But she never saw the attraction she feels for Robert Cameron coming. Not only is it dangerous to fall for a man who lives in the past, their very lives are in danger too. When Robert admits his love for Sunny and makes the choice of a lifetime, there are still more battles at hand (these take place in modern Scotland and England). Though their attraction isn't demonstrated in any more explicit terms than charged kisses, the well-expressed emotions of these two memorable characters set the reader's pulse racing. Kurland's latest time-travel romance is a winner.

Christie Ridgway's latest contemporary romance, How to Knit a Wild Bikini, hit shelves in June.

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