Romance Reviews, April 15, 2012

The Wounded Ones While a good case can be made for fictional heroes and heroines having issues in their pasts that they need to deal with‚ how else could they grow and develop?‚ not all of the protagonists would be considered truly wounded characters in the classic sense. Traditionally, wounded heroes suffer from any number of physical, mental, or emotional problems that they are unable to work through until the heroine, usually through her love, helps bring about healing. While wounded heroes are more common, heroines can also be wounded in much the same way (though the reasons for their torments are often different), and the love of the hero is usually what leads to renewal. Naturally, some characters have actual physical wounds (scars, deformities, blindness, lameness, etc.); however, it is the emotional trauma associated with them that is the focus of the suffering and recovery. Wounded heroes have long been a popular character type in romance, and their appeal is still strong.

starred review starPutney, Mary Jo. No Longer a Gentleman. Zebra: Kensington. (Lost Lords, Bk. 4). May 2012. c.352p. ISBN 9781420117233. pap. $7.99. HISTORICAL

Caught with a French official’s wife while on an espionage mission, Grey Sommers, Lord Wyndham, was thrown into a dungeon by her irate husband and has languished there for a decade. Now, fortified with new clues, Cassie Fox is sent on a last-ditch effort into France to find Grey and bring him home‚ if he is still alive. With expertise honed by experience and determination fueled by the need to avenge her losses at the hands of Napoléon, Cassie rescues Grey, and together they make their way back to England, leaving a furious Citoyen Durand frustrated and plotting revenge. VERDICT With sensitivity and inimitable skill, Putney rescues another lost lord; gives him a brave, resourceful heroine who helps him heal; complicates things with foiling villains, readjusting to society, and falling in love; and weaves it all together in another beautifully written, unforgettable romance. Putney (Nowhere Near Respectable) lives in the Baltimore area.

starred review starThomas, Sherry. Beguiling the Beauty. Berkley Sensation: Penguin Group (USA). (Fitzhugh Trilogy, Bk. 1). May 2012. c.304p. ISBN 9780425246962. pap. $7.99. HISTORICAL

Venetia Easterbrook is blindsided when Christian de Montfort, the Duke of Lexington, recklessly states during a Harvard lecture that all beautiful women are untrustworthy and then twists the events of her past marriages to illustrate his point. The twice-widowed beauty gathers her wits and plots the perfect revenge‚ she will disguise herself during their transatlantic crossing, make him fall in love with her, and then drop him. But her bold plan has unexpected consequences when their passionate, soul-searing affair flares into something more. Venetia realizes too late that she has fallen in love and into her own trap‚ and Christian will never forgive her deception. While a handful of intriguing, nicely introduced secondary characters spark interest in the stories to come (Ravishing the Heiress, Jul.; Tempting the Bride, Oct.), it is Christian and Venetia, with their compelling, conflicted relationship, carefully guarded secrets, and independent personalities, who will captivate readers. Dinosaur fossils, scientific tidbits, and shipboard detail add a touch of realism to this late Victorian romance, set in a period that, along with the following Edwardian era, is beginning to attract more writerly interest. VERDICT Tender, discerning, and lushly romantic, Thomas’s latest offering drills down into the characters’ emotional depths to produce a devastating love story that may appeal to fans of Mary Jo Putney and Laura Kinsale. Thomas (His at Night) lives in Austin, TX.

Hale & Hearty‚ MOSTLY

starred review starBurrowes, Grace. Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal. Sourcebooks Casablanca. (Duke’s Daughters, Bk. 2). May 2012. c.416p. ISBN 9781402263774. pap. $7.99. HISTORICAL

Thirty, independent, and firmly on the shelf, Lady Magdalene Windham, the adopted illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Moreland, lives a quiet, sedate life. But Maggie is being plagued by her past, and when her reticule goes missing‚ and with it some letters she is desperate to have back‚ she goes to her family’s discreet, incredibly observant private investigator, Benjamin Hazlit, the one man who can help her. Although he hides it, Ben quickly realizes that Maggie is not revealing the whole truth; getting her to trust him with her secrets‚ or her heart‚ is not going to be easy. VERDICT An intensely caring, honorable heroine determined to do the right thing; a protective hero who will do anything to keep his lady safe; and well-drawn secondary characters (many of whom will be familiar to the Windham series fans) drive the plot of this tantalizing, delectably sexy story that is one of the best yet from an author on the way to the top. Burrowes (The Virtuoso) lives in Maryland.

starred review starDare, Tessa. A Week To Be Wicked. Avon. (Spindle Cove, Bk. 3). Apr. 2012. 354p. ISBN 9780062049872. pap. $7.99. HISTORICAL

Determined to protect her sister Diana from being married for her money to infamous rake Colin Sandhurst, Lord Payne, and to get to Scotland in order to present her remarkable fossil findings to the Royal Geological Society, bookish Minerva Highwood takes matters into her own hands. After a good deal of convincing, she strikes a bargain with the sexy lord: he will take her to Edinburgh on the pretense of eloping, and when she wins the competition‚ which she is certain to do‚ she will give him the prize money. But the journey is anything but smooth, and between dealing with highwaymen, passing Minerva off as Colin’s mistress and his sister, trekking across the countryside on foot, and trying to ensure that they reach Edinburgh in time, they hardly notice they have fallen in love along the way. VERDICT Compelling characters, lively dialog, offbeat situations, and some of the most hilarious romantic scenes written result in a sexy adventure that will have readers laughing out loud and checking Dare’s web page for the next title in the series. Dare (Once Upon a Winter’s Eve) lives in Southern California.

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

Balogh, Mary. The Proposal. Delacorte. (Survivors’ Club, Bk. 1). May 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9780385343329. $26. HISTORICAL

Bernard, Jennifer. The Fireman Who Loved Me. Avon. (Bachelor Firemen, Bk. 1). May 2012. c.384p. ISBN 9780062088963. pap. $5.99. CONTEMPORARY

Enoch, Suzanne. Taming an Impossible Rogue. St. Martin’s Paperbacks. (Scandalous Brides, Bk. 2). Apr. 2012. c.352p. ISBN 9780312534523. pap. $7.99. HISTORICAL

Lane, Katie. Catch Me a Cowboy. Forever: Grand Central. (Deep in the Heart of Texas, Bk. 3). Apr. 2012. c.384p. ISBN 9781455508150. pap. $7.99. CONTEMPORARY

Brockmann, Suzanne. Born to Darkness. Ballantine. (Fighting Destiny, Bk. 1). Apr. 2012. c.528p. ISBN 9780345521279. $26. FUTURISTIC PARANORMAL

Cooper, Isabel. Lessons After Dark. Sourcebooks Casablanca. Apr. 2012. c.354p. ISBN 9781402264405. pap. $7.99. PARANORMAL

Edwards, Louisa. Hot Under Pressure. St. Martin’s Paperbacks. (Rising Star Chef, Bk. 3). Apr. 2012. c.336p. ISBN 9780312534400. pap. $7.99. CONTEMPORARY

Quick, Amanda. Crystal Gardens. Putnam. (Ladies of Lantern Street, Bk. 1). Apr. 2012. c.336p. ISBN 9780399159084. $25.95. HISTORICAL PARANORMAL

Roberts, Nora. The Witness. Putnam. Apr. 2012. 488p. ISBN 9780399159121. $27.95. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE

Second Time Around

Anderson, Catherine. Coming Up Roses. Signet: NAL. May 2012. c.432p. ISBN 9780451236548. pap. $7.99. HISTORICAL

Blake, Jennifer. Roan. Severn House. (Louisiana Gentleman, Bk. 3). May 2012. c.384p. ISBN 9780727881243. $28.95. CONTEMPORARY

Delinsky, Barbara. First, Best and Only. Severn House. Apr. 2012. c.256p. ISBN 9780727881380. $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)