Romance Reviews, February 15, 2012

DELIGHTFULLY Diverse Despite the persistent rumblings about the death of the historical romance, the subgenre continues to thrive. Granted, contemporary romance is still the largest of the subgenres, primarily owing to the large number of Harlequin series titles published monthly, but historicals have been a consistent if somewhat distant second for years. Theoretically, historical romance can be set at any earlier time period, though most take place between the 11th century (the Battle of Hastings in 1066 is often the starting point) and World War II, with the most popular settings being the British Isles during the Georgian, Regency, and Victorian periods and the American West during the late 1800s. The majority of historicals are realistic; still, with the rise of the paranormal and the continuing popularity of romantic suspense, historical romance is diversifying in new directions, incorporating a variety of supernatural, magical, time-travel, or other alternative elements while providing a fresh opportunity for readers’ advisory crossover recommendations.

starred review starCallihan, Kristen. Firelight. Forever: Grand Central. (Dark London, Bk. 1). Feb. 2012. c.400p. ISBN 9781455508594. pap. $5.99. HISTORICAL PARANORMAL
Still suffering for being the inadvertent catalyst of her family’s financial downfall and tired of doing her conniving father’s bidding, Miranda Ellis agrees to marry the wealthy, enigmatic Lord Benjamin Archer, a man who hides his secrets behind a black mask but will do anything to protect Miri from the killer targeting those he cares about. But fearless Miri has lethal, fiery secrets of her own. As the pair must deal with an ancient curse and an experiment gone wrong, Miri’s powers may be the only thing that can save her love. VERDICT Beauty and the Beast meets Phantom of the Opera (with hints of Carrie and an abundance of Egyptian mythology) in this gripping, intoxicating story, simmering with incendiary sensuality and featuring a heroine who risks all to save the man she loves. An exceptional debut and the first of what promises to be a compelling series. Callihan lives in the Washington, DC, area.

starred review starJeffries, Sabrina. A Lady Never Surrenders. Pocket: S. & S. (Hellions of Halstead Hall, Bk. 5). Feb. 2012. c.416p. ISBN 9781451642452. pap. $7.99. HISTORICAL
The last of the scandal-ridden Sharpe hellions to acquiesce to their grandmother’s dictum that they all marry within the year or forfeit their inheritance, rebellious, independent Lady Celia reluctantly decides to choose a husband from among her current titled suitors. Unfortunately, Jackson Pinter, the annoyingly proper Bow Street Runner who is investigating her beaux as well as her parents’ long-ago deaths, keeps getting in the way. Verbal sparks fly and sexual tension crackles as these well-drawn protagonists, plagued by their separate pasts, struggle unsuccessfully to resist their impossible mutual attraction and end up bringing down a killer in the process. This satisfying story ties up the series’ mystery, sees all the couples happily wed, and possibly paves the way for future adventures of a new generation of scandal-raising Sharpes. VERDICT Wonderfully refreshing characters, a surprising resolution, and a sizzling, emotionally satisfying romance make this another must-read from one of the genre’s best. Each of the series titles is complete in itself, but, because of the ongoing mystery, readers may wish to read the books in order. Jeffries (To Wed a Wild Lord) lives in Cary, NC.

starred review starMacLean, Sarah. A Rogue by Any Other Name. Avon. (Rules of Scoundrels, Bk. 1). Mar. 2012. c.400p. ISBN 9780062068521. pap. $7.99. HISTORICAL
Nine years ago, Michael Lawler, the young Marquess of Bourne, was lured into a reckless card game and lost everything but his title. Now, motivated by revenge and a wealthy part-owner of one of London’s most notorious upscale gaming hells, Bourne has a chance to reclaim what he has lost‚ and nothing will stand in his way, not even marrying his childhood friend Lady Penelope Marbury. But marriage to the adventurous, courageous Penelope is not at all what he expects, and while their public love match begins as a lie, the ultimate results surprise them both. VERDICT Brilliantly crafted and deliciously seductive, MacLean’s (Eleven Scandals To Start To Win a Duke’s Heart) latest offering makes refreshing use of the vengeance theme, provides an enlightening view of the darker side of the London social scene, and beautifully sets the stage for the rest of the scoundrels in the series. MacLean lives in Brooklyn.

The following titles are reviewed in the February 15 print issue. Visit our Reviews Center (Beta) for the full reviews.


Alexander, Victoria. My Wicked Little Lies. Zebra: Kensington. (Sinful Family Secrets, Bk. 1). Feb. 2012. c.352p. ISBN 9781420117066. pap. $7.99. HISTORICAL

Anderson, Catherine. Lucky Penny. Signet: NAL. (Coulter Family). Feb. 2012. 413p. ISBN 9780451236036. pap. $7.99. HISTORICAL

Beverley, Jo. A Scandalous Countess. Signet: NAL. (Malloren World). Feb. 2012. 410p. ISBN 9780451236043. pap. $7.99. HISTORICAL

Frisch, Karen. What’s in a Name. Avalon. Feb. 2012. c.192p. ISBN 9780803476165. $23.95. HISTORICAL

Hunter, Madeline. The Surrender of Miss Fairbourne. Jove: Berkley. (Fairbourne Quartet, Bk. 1). Mar. 2012. c.352p. ISBN 9780515150469. pap. $7.99. HISTORICAL

Kennedy, Kathryne. The Lord of Illusion. Sourcebooks Casablanca. (Elven Lords, Bk. 3). Feb. 2012. c.448p. ISBN 9781402236549. pap. $7.99. HISTORICAL FANTASY

London, Julia. The Revenge of Lord Eberlin. Pocket: S. & S. (Secrets of Hadley Green). Mar. 2012. c.400p. ISBN 9781439175460. pap. $7.99. HISTORICAL

Nash, Sophia. Between the Duke and the Deep Blue Sea. Avon. (Royal Entourage, Bk. 1). Mar. 2012. c.384p. ISBN 978006202232. pap. $7.99. HISTORICAL


Cane, Emma. A Town Called Valentine. Avon. Feb. 2012. c.384p. ISBN 9780062102270. pap. $7.99. CONTEMPORARY

Cooper, Karina. All Things Wicked. Avon. (Dark Mission, Bk. 3). Feb. 2012. 376p. ISBN 9780062046932. pap. $7.99. FUTURISTIC PARANORMAL

Kleypas, Lisa. Rainshadow Road. Griffin: St. Martin’s. (Friday Harbor, Bk. 2). Mar. 2012. c.336p. ISBN 9780312605889. pap. $14.99. CONTEMPORARY

Neggers, Carla. Secrets of the Lost Summer. Mira: Harlequin. Feb. 2012. c.384p. ISBN 9780778313113. pap. $7.99. CONTEMPORARY


Cameron, Stella. Second to None. Severn House. Mar. 2012. 256p. ISBN 9780727881144. $28.95. CONTEMPORARY

Stuart, Anne. Chain of Love. Severn House. Mar. 2012. 256p. ISBN 9780727881120. $28.95. CONTEMPORARY

About Kristin Ramsdell

Kristin Ramsdell is Librarian Emerita, California State University, East Bay. She is the author of the romance section of What Do I Read Next? A Reader's Guide to Current Genre Fiction (Gale, annual) and Romance Fiction: A Guide to the Genre (Libraries Unlimited)