I'm in the mood for something steamy, and--since up here on the tundra, we're still entrenched in never-ending winter--something warm weather-related. But if I can’t have that, I’ll settle for the Deep South: a molasses-smooth drawl, humid nights, hot heroes, and steel magnolia heroines.
Here’s my selection of old and new treasures guaranteed to sweep you south of the Mason-Dixon line.
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Long before True Blood hit the HBO airwaves, Charlaine Harris wrote a more genial (if no less blood thirsty) vampire novel called Dead Until Dark. In it, her naive 25 year old virgin waitress finds true love and an empty mind (you either already know why this is a plus, or you’ll just have to read the book!) with super studly vampire Bill. But the real star of this story in Bon Temps, a sleepy, bayou-stranded town with a plethora of characters both alive and dead, supernatural and super-odd that will have you turning pages as fast as you can. Here’s a story that goes down as easy as sweet tea on a hot afternoon.
Texas Destiny by Lorraine Heath
If you love a tortured hero, you’re going to adore Houston Leigh, ravaged body and soul by injuries suffered in the Civil War. Sent to escort his beloved brother’s mail-order bride across the Texas wilderness, Houston falls for southern bell Amelia Carson. What’s a tortured, honorable, desperate man to do, especially when your brother is not some shiftless ne’er do well but a good, hard-working man deserving of the glorious Amelia? Happily, in Lorraine Heath’s expert hands, the answer isn’t left entirely up to Houston. Amelia has survived her own ordeals and emerged stronger, more competent and ready to love. This is a richly satisfying and emotional read that never takes the easy way out. And that setting? I can almost taste the trail dust.
Meant to Be by Terri Osburn
This book isn't available until May 21st, but it fits in so well with my theme and it's so much fun that I couldn’t resist including it. Sweet, disarming Beth Chandler isn’t exactly a mail-order bride, but she is willing to take a terrifying voyage (okay, it’s a short hop across a channel on a ferry, but she’s hydrophobic) to meet her future in-laws on idyllic Anchor Island. During the trip she finds a welcome distraction in rugged fellow passenger Joe Dempsey and his dog, Dozer. The animal magnetism (sorry, it was irresistible) is already doomed by the fact that she’s already engaged, but then she discovers that—yup, you guessed it—Joe is her intended’s brother. Fun, flirty, with an adorable and genuinely likeable heroine and a great supporting cast, watching these two fight their high-octane attraction is pure delight.
I could go on for a long time about my favorite southern delights, but for those of you who want to really sink your teeth into the more over-the-top on that pile, I suggest digging up some of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s titles, such as Ashes in the Wind or the seminal Shanna. They’re as lush and rich as praline sauce on bread pudding. Laissez les bons temps rouler!