Take-Charge Women Any fan of the romance genre knows that meek, wimpy, submissive heroines are generally things of the past. Oh, I know there are a few out there who are on the less courageous side, but, in general, today’s heroines stand up for themselves and no longer wait for a heroic rescue. In fact, they often rescue themselves—and sometimes the hero as well. While the pattern differs with the time period (i.e., heroines during certain historical eras have more constraints than others), the heroines today’s readers most admire are those with gumption, grit, and the intelligence and determination to figure things out and get what they want. Most of the heroines in the books that follow step up to the plate, eventually, although it takes some longer than others.
Macnamara, Ashlyn. A Most Scandalous Proposal. Ballantine: Random. Mar. 2013. c.362p. ISBN 978034553473. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780345534750. HISTORICAL
Convinced by her parents’ loveless match and her sister Sophia’s unrequited infatuation that falling in love only brings pain, Julia St. Claire plans never to marry at all—or, if she must, to wed someone she merely likes. But her social-climbing mother’s selfish machinations and her father’s gambling losses result in disaster for both sisters. When she finds herself betrothed to the cad Sophia pines for, Julia runs to Benedict Revelstoke, her longtime best friend, with a proposition he can’t refuse. VERDICT Gossip, scandal, and breezy banter enliven this unusual dual love story that features some beautifully rendered secondary characters, illuminates realistic dilemmas, and highlights the overwhelming importance of one’s social standing (a classic theme in traditional Regency romances). Macnamara’s debut novel was a finalist for a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award for unpublished manuscript. Macnamara lives near Montreal.
Medeiros, Teresa. The Temptation of Your Touch. Pocket: S. & S. Feb. 2013. c.332p. ISBN 9781439157909. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781439170748. HISTORICAL
Forced by scandal to leave his reckless London life, Maximillian Burke, Earl of Dravenwood, heads for the wilds of Cornwall to see to the management of Cadgwyck Manor, one of his family’s recent acquisitions. However, instead of finding a peaceful, remote retreat, he is greeted by a neglected, unkempt mansion; inedible food; a ragtag staff; and Anne Spencer, his prim, businesslike housekeeper. The estate has been plagued by tragedy, is feared by the townsfolk, and is haunted by the ghost of Angelica Cadgwyck, the elusive White Lady. Naturally, things aren’t at all what they seem and secrets abound—secrets that Max knows he must uncover but ones Anne is determined to conceal. VERDICT A pair of deeply wounded protagonists who must learn to forgive themselves, a charming group of secondary characters, and a complex, well-crafted plot result in a tale that is beautifully linked to the author’s The Pleasure of Your Kiss. With deliciously Gothic touches, this novel is another winner for the talented, Kentucky-based Medeiros.
Kleypas, Lisa. Crystal Cove. Griffin: St. Martin’s. (Friday Harbor, Bk. 3). Feb. 2013. c.336p. ISBN 9781250011756. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250025920. PARANORMAL
Frustrated at being bound from birth by a spell that prevents her from falling in love, Justine Hoffman recklessly taps into her magical heritage in an attempt to lift the curse. But her untutored efforts have consequences, throwing her life into chaos and endangering that of enigmatic Jason Black, as well. Dangerous magic, long-kept secrets, and swift action keep the plot of this compelling story bubbling as a reluctant hereditary witch and a man in search of a soul challenge fate in a deadly battle for love. VERDICT This heart-rending, steamy sizzler gives new meaning to the term soul mates and ties up loose ends as it beautifully concludes Kleypas’s mesmerizing “Friday Harbor” series. Kleypas (Dream Lake) lives in Washington State.
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The following titles are reviewed in the February 15 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.
Alexander, Victoria. The Importance of Being Wicked. Zebra: Kensington. Feb. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9781420117073. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781420130973. HISTORICAL
Ashford, Jane. Once Again a Bride. Sourcebooks Casablanca. Feb. 2013. c.416p. ISBN 9781402276729. pap. $6.99; ebk. ISBN 9781402276736. HISTORICAL
Callihan, Kristen. Winterblaze. Forever: Grand Central. (Darkest London, Bk. 3). Feb. 2013. c.400p. ISBN 9781455520794. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781455520800. HISTORICAL PARANORMAL
Diaz, Lena. The Marshall’s Witness. Harlequin Intrigue. Feb. 2013. c.224p. ISBN 9780373696727. pap. $5.25; ebk. ISBN 9781460304020. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
Gracie, Anne. The Autumn Bride. Berkley Sensation. (Chance Sisters, Bk. 1). Feb. 2013. 310p. ISBN 9780425259252. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781101618295. HISTORICAL
Hauf, Michele. This Wicked Magic. Harlequin Nocturne. Feb. 2013. c.304p. ISBN 9780373885633. pap. $5.50; ebk. ISBN 9781460303924. PARANORMAL
Higgins, Kristan. The Best Man. HQN: Harlequin. Mar. 2013. 432p. ISBN 9780373777921. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781460306451. CONTEMPORARY
Jenkins, Beverly. Destiny’s Embrace. Avon. (Destiny, Bk. 1). Feb. 2013. 370p. ISBN 9780062032652. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062031266. MULTICULTURAL HISTORICAL
MacLean, Sarah. One Good Earl Deserves a Lover: The Second Rule of Scoundrels. Avon. Feb. 2013. c.384p. ISBN 9780062068538. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062065391. HISTORICAL
Nash, Sophia. The Duke Diaries. Avon. (Royal Entourage, Bk. 3). Mar. 2013. c.384p. ISBN 9780062022349. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062198037. HISTORICAL
Neggers, Carla. That Night on Thistle Lane. Mira: Harlequin. (Swift River Valley, Bk. 2). Feb. 2013. 360p. ISBN 9780778314202. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781460303283. CONTEMPORARY
Ramsay, Hope. Last Chance Book Club. Forever: Grand Central. Mar. 2013. c.384p. ISBN 9781455522293. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781455522286. CONTEMPORARY
Second Time Around
James, Samantha. My Rebellious Heart. Avon. Mar. 2013. c.392p. ISBN 9780062034878. pap. $7.99.HISTORICAL
Krentz, Jayne Ann. Legacy. Severn House. Feb. 2013. c.256p. ISBN 9780727882073. $28.95.CONTEMPORARY
Stuart, Anne. Museum Piece. Severn House. Mar. 2013. c.256p. ISBN 9780727882332. $28.95.CONTEMPORARY