Our Top Pick in Romance is the newest contemporary romance from Lisa Kleypas, Dream Lake!
Writes romance columnist Christie Ridgway, "Alex Nolan is in the process of losing his home, a good portion of his construction business and, perhaps, his sanity—the latter because he’s being haunted by a stranger’s ghost. While coming to grips with all that’s gone wrong, Alex takes on the job of rehabbing a home for baker Zoë Hoffman, whose sweetness and optimism he worries will be damaged by his dark edges. But Zoë can’t help but be drawn to Alex. . . This is Kleypas at her contemporary best: The writing wows and the ending evokes happy tears."
I chatted with the talented (and good lookin', if you don't mind me saying) Kleypas about romance and writing in a 7 questions interview. Love her answer to my question, "What's the most romantic thing that has ever happened to you?" Read her answer!
Read on for an excerpt from Dream Lake (more here):
At the sound of Zoe's scream, Alex reached her in a few seconds. She had bolted from the galley-style kitchen, her eyes huge in her ashen face. "What is it?" he demanded.
"S-spider," she said hoarsely.
"It's here," the ghost called out from the kitchen. "Damn thing just jumped from one counter to the other."
Dashing into the narrow space, Alex grabbed the antique eggbeaters and killed the spider with a few decisive thwacks.
Pausing to look more closely, Alex let out a low whistle. It was a wolf spider, a species that tended to hide during the day and hunt for prey at night. This particular specimen was bigger than anything he'd seen outside of a zoo. A touch of humor quirked one corner of his mouth as he thought of how Sam would have reacted to the situation. Sam would have found a way to capture the spider without harming it and safely transport it outside, all the while lecturing about respect for nature. Alex's view on nature was that any time it ventured inside, it was going to find itself confronting a big can of Raid.
His gaze swept across the kitchen. A loose collection of webbing was anchored at the corner of the ceiling. Spiders spun webs near food sources, which meant there had to be a big supply of insects attracted to the moisture from leaks in the wall.
"Alex," came the ghost's urgent voice from the other room, "Something's wrong with Zoe."
Frowning, Alex left the kitchen and found Zoe in the center of the main room, her arms wrapped tightly around her middle. She was breathing in airless pants, as if her lungs had collapsed. He reached her in two strides. "What is it?"
She didn't seem to hear him. Her eyes were wide and unfocused. She was shaking in every limb.
"Did it bite you?" Alex asked, looking over her face, neck, arms, every exposed inch of skin.
Zoe shook her head, wheezing as she tried to talk. Alex found himself reaching out for her and snatching his hands back.
"Panic attack," the ghost said. "Can you calm her down?"
Alex shook his head automatically. He was good at making women angry, but calming them wasn't in his repertoire.
The ghost looked exasperated. "Just talk to her. Pat her back."
Alex gave him an appalled glance. There was no possible way to explain his unwillingness to touch her. The sure knowledge that it would lead to disaster. But Zoe swayed on her feet, looking like she was about to pass out, and there was no choice. He reached for her, his hands closing lightly around her arms. The feel of her skin against his palms, the texture of her flesh, sent a thrill of heat through him, which, in light of the circumstances, was nothing less than depraved.
You'll never guess which fictional character Suzanne Brockmann would choose to have stranded on an island with her.
"Mr. Spock. And I’ll take him as played by either Leonard Nimoy or Zachary Quinto. Both versions rock."
Romance columnist Christie Ridgway promises "this sizzling story will draw readers into a world of frightening evil and heroic action" as an ex-SEAL and a super-human temptress risk their lives to take down a criminal organization.
Enjoy an excerpt from Born to Darkness (read more here):
Shane was winning when she walked in.
His plan was a simple one: spend a few hours here in this lowlife bar and win enough money playing pool to take the T down to Copley Square, where there was a cluster of expensive hotels. Hit one of the hotel bars, where the women not only had all of their teeth, but they also had corporate expense accounts and key cards to the comfortable rooms upstairs.
But drinks there were pricey. Shane had spent his remaining fifty-eight seconds at the Kenmore comm-station checking menus, and he knew he'd need at least twenty dollars just to sit at the bar and nurse a beer. Fifty to buy a lady a drink. And expense account or not, you had to be ready to start the game by buying the lady a drink.
But then she walked in—or rather limped in. She was smaller than the average woman, and slight of build. She'd also injured her foot, probably her ankle, but other than that, she carried herself like an operator. She'd certainly scanned the room like one as she'd come in.
Which was when Shane had gotten a hit from her eyes. They were pale and he couldn't tell from this distance whether they were blue or green or even a light shade of brown. But the color didn't matter, it was the glimpse he got of the woman within that had made him snap to attention—internally, that is.
She looked right at him, gave him some direct eye contact, then assessed him. She took a very brief second to appreciate his handsome face and trim form, catalogued him, and finally dismissed him.
Anna Randol's debut romance novel, A Secret in Her Kiss, is our Romance of the Month!
Major Bennett Prestwood is ordered to Constantinople to act as protector and chaperone to beautiful British spy Mari Sinclair, who isn't interested in having a guardian. Romance columnist Christie Ridgway loved it for its exotic locale and the constant threat of danger.
Check out an excerpt from A Secret in Her Kiss, when Bennett is meeting who he believes to be Mari (read more here):
Bennett studied the woman before him--or at least what little he could see--a grand total of two brown eyes. Not even her eyebrows showed under the garish golden silk that swathed her entire form. Her native garb stood in awkward contrast to the traditional English decor of the ambassador's parlor, clashing horribly with the pink embroidered flowers on the chair beneath her. A dandelion in one of his mother's rose beds. "So you agree to the conditions?"
Miss Sinclair dipped her head, shrinking even further into the overstuffed chair. "Yes." Her words fluttered the fabric of her veil.
"I know it might be a bother to write out an hour-by-hour itinerary every morning, but it is for your safety."
"Yes, sir." She darted an anxious glance at the closed door.
Bennett paced in front of the large marble fireplace, then tapped his fingers on the mantel. Both of his sisters would've laughed in his face if he'd dared to make such a suggestion to one of them. He'd expected at least some protest. The sum the government was paying her must be substantial indeed.
Silence hung awkwardly in the stifling room. He eyed the shut windows. He still couldn't think of words to adequately describe the city of Constantinople spread out beneath them. The city resembled nothing so much as an aging courtesan's dressing room table overflowing with rouge pots and cream jars and a few candlesticks interspersed throughout.
He cleared his throat and forced his attention back to the woman in front of him. They could discuss the rest of his plans during the next few days. Now that they could claim an acquaintence, he could call on her without attracting undue attention. "That will be all for now, Miss Sinclair, it's been a pleasure meeting you."
She sprang to her feet in an eruption of silk and fled toward the door. Bennett scrambled to open it for her. The woman's work involved two of the most vindictive nations in Europe. He'd expected her to have more pluck.
Interested in even more romance? This month is full of great books to get excited about: romance trends, new series here and here, great romances for Valentine's Day and a guest post from Larissa Ione.
Teresa Medeiros' The Pleasure of Your Kiss is our January Top Pick in Romance. It heats up the desert with the tale of a notorious adventurer sent to rescue his brother's fiancée—who happens to be his first love from long ago—from a sultan's harem.
Naturally, it's spicy, with lots of sun-kissed skin and burning glances.
Enjoy an excerpt from The Pleasure of Your Kiss:
He had come for her, Clarinda thought, her treacherous heart leaping with hope as she met Ashton Burke's gaze for the first time in nearly ten years.
In those dark hours after he had first left her behind while he went off to chase his dreams, her spiteful imagination had supplied her with hours of entertainment by conjuring up countless scenarios during which they might once again come face to face.
There was the one where she alighted from a gilded carriage drawn by six snowy white horses only to find his wasted figure huddled in the gutter outside her father's Mayfair town house. Favoring him with a pitying smile, she would pluck a farthing from her purse and toss it to him before blithely stepping over his rag-wrapped form and proceeding into the house. (If she were in a particularly mean-spirited mood, it would be snowing outside and she would accidentally stomp on his fingers as she swept past him.)
Those vengeful fantasies had been the product of a young girl's bruised heart, hardly befitting the mature woman Clarinda had become. A woman who had spent years mastering her more petty emotions.
Which didn't explain the malicious twinge of satisfaction she felt as she came face to face with Ashton Burke while she was cradled in the muscular arms of a devastatingly handsome Moroccan sultan and wearing little more than an enticing collection of veils. Even her bountiful imagination hadn't been able to whip up such an unlikely—or delicious—scenario.
As their gazes locked in the shadows beneath the brim of his hat, Ash's familiar gold-flecked eyes narrowed without betraying so much as a trace of regret or yearning. On the contrary, he looked more inclined to step over her body as she lay gasping her last in some filthy gutter. Or to give her the cut direct in a crowded ballroom before a throng of gawking onlookers.
She had to blink more than once to dispel the image of the beautiful boy she remembered from her youth. The jaded stranger who stood before her now was every inch a man. A man who looked as if he'd be more at home in a seedy saloon than an elegant salon. Wind, sand, and time had polished away all traces of youth and vulnerability, leaving him lean and hard and infinitely more dangerous than the boy who had walked out of her life all those years ago. Flecks of sand clung to his sun-baked skin, catching like powdered gold dust in the rakish hint of beard stubble shadowing his jaw and upper lip.
Medeiros certainly has a knack for creating sizzling moments . . . but as proven by our 7 questions interview, she also has a great sense of humor! We chatted about hot guys, some of her favorite characters from The Lord of the Rings movies and much more!
What is your favorite setting for a historical romance?
Our Top Pick in Romance this month is The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley, which came out on Monday. With "understated sensuality" and enthralling emotional dilemmas, The Rose Garden transports its readers back in time for a complex, aching romance.
Here's what our reviewer had to say:
Recovering from a painful loss, Eva Ward travels to Cornwall and the centuries-old Trelowarth House where she once spent happy summers. One morning, she hears unfamiliar voices in the next room, and on a walk she encounters a mysterious man who seems to be from another time ... Eva concludes she has traveled back 300 years. Though she can’t control her comings and goings between the past and present, she begins to fall in love with Daniel Butler, a dashing man with a dangerous secret ... she’s unsure whether she can or should interfere in historical events—or if she can or should find a way to stay with him forever.
In a 7 Questions interview, we chatted briefly with Susanna Kearsley about The Rose Garden, great books and what it means to be a writer.
I especially love her answer to this question: If you could travel back in time to any decade in history, what would you choose and why?
What about you? What decade would you choose?
Our August 2011 Romance of the Month comes from Cindy Gerard's Black Ops series. With No Remorse stars supermodel Valentina and ex-SEAL Luke, and they find it difficult to resist each other while running for their lives.
Our columnist gives a little preview of the high-octane romance:
Val’s survival depends on trusting Luke, and trust is hard for her to give these days, even when she finds the man at her side so capable and so downright sexy. With the help of Luke’s team, they piece together the ugly truth. Righting old wrongs might mean losing her life . . . or Luke losing his.
With No Remorse came out in mid-July. Have you or will you pick up a copy?