MAGIC, MAGIC EVERYWHERE! There’s something a little bit magical about falling in love. Whether it’s the inexplicable reasons people choose each other or the euphoric feelings that are part of loving and being loved, it’s all rather mysterious—maybe even magical. However, the magic of love, which by definition would be part of most romances, is not what most readers are thinking of when they talk about magic in romance. Although characters with a variety of psychic powers (which some consider to be magical or supernatural) may be found in all romance subgenres, in general, magic is usually confined to the realm of fantasy or the paranormal, in which worlds are created that allow for true magic to exist. Currently, magic in romance, like everything paranormal, is popular and plentiful. Those listed below are only a sampling of the wide variety of titles available.
Cross, Kate. Touch of Steel. Signet Eclipse: Penguin Group (USA). (Clockwork Agents, Bk. 2). Dec. 2012. 322p. ISBN 9780451238825. pap. $7.99. HISTORICAL PARANORMAL
A loyal Company agent for most of her life, American spy Claire Brooks is stunned when the Company takes no action against Stanton Howard, a fellow agent, after he murders her brother. Vowing revenge, she pursues Howard to England, watches as he barely escapes, and ends up falling off a building, onto a carriage, and into the hands of the Company’s archrival, the Wardens of the Realm (W.O.R.). Still bent on retribution and with little choice, Claire agrees to help the Wardens track down Howard, a master of disguise, as well as the notorious “Doctor.” But traveling in the custody of recently wounded but now “augmented” W.O.R. agent Alastair Payne, Earl of Wolfred, and posing as his mistress is a challenge for them both, especially as their initial hostile reactions evolve into something quite different—and potentially dangerous. VERDICT A pair of exquisitely matched, lethal protagonists, a plot overflowing with unexpected twists, and a stunning, cleverly developing steampunk world combine in another hard-hitting, violent, sexy romantic adventure that takes Cross’s steampunk series to a new level. Brilliantly done! Cross (Heart of Brass) lives in Connecticut. Note: Although there is no real magic here, the steampunk world has a magical, otherworldly quality that seems to make it fit.
Quinn, Julia & others. The Lady Most Willing.… Avon. Jan. 2013. c.384p. ISBN 9780062107381. pap. $7.99; eISBN 978006210404. HISTORICAL
When an eccentric laird decides his reluctant nephews need to marry to secure the succession, he does the unthinkable and raids a ball, kidnaps four young women, and removes them to remote Finovair Castle. Unfortunately, he also makes off with a duke’s coach—with the duke inside! A snowstorm adds the expected complications, but by the time the angry fathers come to the rescue, their daughters are happily wed—although not necessarily as one might think. VERDICT Clever, engaging, funny, and guaranteed to keep the pages turning, this well-written Regency “novel in three parts” by popular authors Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway is a pure delight, remarkably well put together, and a perfect follow up to last year’s The Lady Most Likely…. Quinn, James, and Brockway live in the Seattle area, the New York area, and Minnesota, respectively.
Pappano, Marilyn & Linda Conrad. Christmas Confidential. Harlequin Romantic Suspense. Dec. 2012. c.224p. ISBN 9780373278015. pap. $5.25. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
PI heroes and heroines with unusual backstories take center stage in a pair of suspenseful holiday-tinged short stories. In Pappano’s “Holiday Protector,” Miri Duncan, newly released from prison after serving time for embezzlement and now with a new agenda, has little time to spare for Dean Montgomery, the sexy PI she had dated and who then turned her in. But Dean needs answers that only Miri can give. The only problem is they may not be the ones he expects. In Conrad’s steamy “A Chance Reunion,” PI Gage Chance spots a woman who is a dead ringer for his late wife and is caught up in a bizarre, old-world vendetta and pursued by men who will never give up. VERDICT Offbeat situations, lively action, intriguing plots, and unusual characters (the heroines, especially) make these two novellas perfect short reads for those quick “book breaks” between holiday chores. Pappano and Conrad are multipublished authors in their own right and live in Oklahoma and South Florida, respectively.
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The following titles are reviewed in the December 1 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.
Touched by Magic
Callahan, Coreene. Knight Awakened. Montlake Romance. (Circle of Seven, Bk. 1). Dec. 2012. c.452p. ISBN 9781612183039. pap. $14.95; eISBN 9781612188119. HISTORICAL PARANORMAL
Krentz, Jayne Ann. Dream Eyes. Putnam. (Dark Legacy, Bk. 2). Jan. 2013. c.352p. ISBN 9780399158957. $26.95. PARANORMAL
Owens, Robin D. Enchanted Ever After. Luna: Harlequin. (Mystic Circle, Bk. 3). Jan. 2013. c.432p. ISBN 9780373803477. pap. $14.95. FANTASY
Scott, Amanda. The Laird’s Choice. Forever: Grand Central. (Lairds of the Loch, Bk. 1). Dec. 2012. c.400p. ISBN 9781455514359. pap. $7.99. HISTORICAL
Love’s Simple Magic
Ashley, Jennifer. The Seduction of Elliot McBride. Berkley Sensation: Penguin Group (USA). (Mackenzies, Bk. 5). Jan. 2013. c.320p. ISBN 9780425251133. pap. $7.99. HISTORICAL
Burrowes, Grace. The Bridegroom Wore Plaid. Sourcebooks Casablanca. (Scottish Victorian, Bk. 1). Dec. 2012. c.384p. ISBN 9781402268663. pap. $7.99. HISTORICAL
Cane, Emma. True Love at Silver Creek Ranch. Avon. (Valentine Valley, Bk. 2). Jan. 2013. c.384p. ISBN 9780062102294. pap. $5.99; eISBN 9780062102300. CONTEMPORARY
Howard, Linda & Linda Jones. Running Wild. Ballantine. (Men from Battle Ridge, Bk. 1). Dec. 2012. c.402p. ISBN 9780345520784. pap. $7.99. romantic suspense
Hunter, Kelly. The One That Got Away. Harlequin Kiss. Feb. 2013. c.224p. ISBN 9780373207008. pap. $5.25.CONTEMPORARY
Ross, JoAnn. Sea Glass Winter. Signet: NAL. (Shelter Bay, Bk. 5). Jan. 2013. c.400p. ISBN 9780451238931. pap. $7.99. CONTEMPORARY
Sherwood, Pamela. Waltz with a Stranger. Sourcebooks Casablanca. Dec. 2012. c.448p. ISBN 9781402273223. pap. $6.99. HISTORICAL
Thomas, Jodi. Chance of a Lifetime. Berkley: Penguin Group (USA). (Harmony, Bk. 5). Jan. 2013. c.336p. ISBN 9780425250525. pap. $7.99. CONTEMPORARY
MORE Stocking Stuffers
Fossen, Delores. Christmas Rescue at Mustang Ridge. Harlequin Intrigue. Dec. 2012. c.224p. ISBN 9780373696567. pap. $5.25. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
Second Time Around
Brown, Sandra. Led Astray. Severn House. Jan. 2013. c.240p. ISBN 9780727882066. $28.95. CONTEMPORARY
Laurens, Stephanie. Four in Hand. Severn House. Dec. 2012. c.288p. ISBN 9780727882042. $28.95. REGENCY
Lowell, Elizabeth. Fever. Severn House. Dec. 2012. c.256p. ISBN 9780727882059. $28.95. CONTEMPORARY