Counteract cool weather with this handful of hot books. From a poignant historical to an enchanting contemporary, these are romances perfect for fireside reading.

Anna Campbell’s Captive of Sin opens with the bruised and desperate heiress, Lady Charis Weston, on the run from her violent stepbrothers. She meets Sir Gideon Trevithick, who recently survived a long imprisonment in India, and the vulnerable woman calls to all his protective instincts. He offers aid to the terrified Charis, without realizing this act will ultimately lead them to marriage. Charis, who has fallen for the handsome man, is eager to be his wife—until she learns the offer has a catch. Gideon insists it will be a marriage in name only after a single night of consummation. Still, Charis agrees, and then the real trouble begins as husband and wife battle their growing love and the torturous ghosts from Gideon’s past, along with the outside dangers closing in on them. An emotional read about brave and loving characters, Captive of Sin will bring sighs and smiles to readers looking for rich, historical drama.

More than a woman
Suspense and science drive the love story in Caridad PiƱeiro’s Sins of the Flesh. As the book opens, Caterina Shaw is dying from a brain tumor. In a last effort to save herself, she volunteers for experimental gene therapy. Six months later, one of her doctors has been violently murdered, suspect Cat is on the run and mercenary Mick Carrera has been tasked with hunting her down—with the full understanding that he might have to kill his prey. But when Mick discovers Cat, he also discovers that the therapy has given the beauty unusual strength and odd characteristics. Intrigued and aroused, Mick helps Cat get healthy and then partners with her to stop the evil men who have unethically treated her and others. Cat might be more than a woman, but Mick is more tender and protective than even he knows. Readers will root for these two characters as they battle the bad guys to find a future together.

Secret identity
Susan Sizemore’s paranormal romance series about the Prime vampires takes a slight turn, as those very vampires have formed a Vampire Book Club, and their first selection is Dark Stranger. While on a secret diplomatic mission, Zoe Pappas, heir to the Byzant empire, is captured and sent to a shadowy, underground prison where humans and aliens are housed. There, the man in charge of humans is medical officer and POW Matthias “Doc” Raven. Doc is attracted to the outspoken “Lieutenant,” the rank Zoe assumes in order to keep her presence in the camp a secret. But as the two grow close, Zoe’s true status comes to light and Doc’s own secret is revealed—he’s a vampire. Both make their long-term love impossible, Doc believes, and so he concentrates on the present, which ultimately means orchestrating an escape that he thought previously impossible. Atmospheric and exciting, Dark Stranger takes the reader into a murky prison populated by frightening creatures, thwarted ambitions and sizzling love.

Friends and lovers
Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts is a delightful friends-to-lovers story in her Bride Quartet. Florist Emma Grant never lacks for male attention, but her romantic streak has yet to attract the exact right man. Her life changes, however, when suddenly sparks fly between her and Jack Cooke, a man she’s known for over a decade and who is a member of her tight circle of friends. What’s a woman to do? Jack senses the same sparks with Emma, but has similar reservations. If they pursue the relationship, how might it affect their friendship when it’s over? But an exchange of sexy e-mails and their undeniable attraction wins the day, and soon Emma and Jack are enjoying coupledom. Still, true intimacy isn’t easy, especially for Jack, and Emma thinks she should have listened to her head instead of her heart. Will love overcome? Yet another winner from Roberts, this lovely story brims with romance and likeable, believable characters. 

 

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

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