What an author to do? It’s my job to find the threads that weave different circumstances and events, people and places, into a cognitive whole. Seriously. It’s my job description. But lately I’ve been enjoying a bunch of outstanding books that don’t have anything in common. Nada. Zilch. Now I could simply jettison a few titles and find others that fit together thematically, but that would mean I wouldn’t get the chance to tell you about some truly great reads.
But...How can I...? Wait. I have the theme! (Connie slaps virtual hand to virtual forehead.)
It’s soon Valentine’s Day! (Now you see why they pay me the big bucks!) So here’s my gift to you, dear readers: a designer assortment of delicious and devilishly good romances!
Let’s start with Teresa Medeiros’s wonderful, clever pseudo gothic. The Temptation of Your Touch tells the story of Max, the “good brother” left at the altar at the end of The Pleasure of Your Kiss. Max isn’t so good anymore and, in order to escape scandal, heads to his newly purchased (and haunted) castle, where he finds lovely, unexpected Anne Spenser heading an odd staff. Downton Abbey, The Woman in White, Laura, and the Maltese Falcon all get their nods in this rollicking good tale.
Doing a 180 is Gena Showalter’s The Last Kiss Goodnight. Set-up for this series? Alien babies raised by humans grow up to become a particularly effective Black Ops Team. In Last Kiss, hero Solomon Judah is, for all intents and purposes, HELLBOY. Right down to his red color. The whole "I'm a monster, she'll never dig a monster" paradigm is right in my wheelhouse and the love story between the alien with a heart of gold and abuse survivor Vikas Kukas is unexpectedly sweet, though with plenty of steam.
Now for a whiplash turn straight into Lisa Kleypas’s magical realist Crystal Cove. This story of doomed protagonists saved by love is classic Kleypas. In other words: pure enchantment. A man seeking a soul is intent on finding it with the aid of a woman cursed never to find true love, a woman who has turned her back on magic. What follows is an emotional, sexy and dangerous journey of the heart that will leave you breathless. No one writes complicated relationships better than Kleypas. Dig in!
Back to the past for Michelle Willingham’s Undone by the Duke! Beautiful, gentrified Victoria Andrews sews fantasy lingerie for an aristocratic clientele. But when a wounded duke in disguise shows up at her doorstep, she sets her needle to another use. Before you can say Victoria’s Secret, the duke and the agoraphobic lady are unraveling each other’s fears, pasts, and hearts, in a tender, exquisitely romantic tale. I so enjoyed this quietly intense and richly satisfying romance.
Last switcheroo. What better day to round up my Valentine’s Day theme (it’s a loose interpretation) than a great –and I mean GREAT—romantic suspense novel about a Valentine’s serial killer? Cynthia Eden’s Die For Me features a steel-spined heroine who comes out of witness protection to help stop her former fiancé, who happens to be a serial killer who is obsessed with her. Add another guy to that obsession list: Gorgeous Dane Black, the Nola detective whose protective instincts ramp way up where the lovely Katherine is concerned. Not only is this a sexy romance, it’s a really scrumptious mystery with lots of twist, turns and unexpected reveals.