ALTAFF’s “Isn’t It Romantic?”: ALA Annual 2012

Deborah Coonts. Photo by Dave Feiling Photography

Coonts, Deborah. So Damn Lucky. Forge. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780765330062. $24.99.
So Damn Lucky is the third in the Lucky O’Toole Vegas Adventure series. As the back flap says, Deborah Coonts’s mother tells her she was born in Texas a very long time ago, though she’s not totally sure‚ her mother can’t be trusted. But she was definitely raised in Texas on barbeque, Mexican food, and beer. She currently resides in Las Vegas, where family and friends tell her she can’t get into too much trouble. Silly people.

In her latest outing, Lucky is as resourceful and appealing as ever when, as head of customer relations for the Babylon resort, she deals with a magician who seems to have died onstage, a boyfriend who seems to be on the way out, two handsome men who seem to be on the way in, one Texan and one French, which tells you everything, and, in the end, more sobering issues of murder and possible mind control experiments at a secret military base. In her colorful life, Deborah Coonts has done everything from practicing law to flying airplanes, but her devoted readers will agree that, now that she’s turned to writing, they’re so damn lucky.

Dare, Tessa. A Week To Be Wicked. Avon. 2012. 382p. ISBN 9780062049872. pap. $7.99.
In her back-flap copy, Dare she says she’s a part-time librarian, full-time mom, and swing-shift writer. I couldn’t have said it better myself. What I like even more is the dedication she provides at the front of the book: For all the girls who walk and read at the same time. Raise your hand, everyone to whom that applies. The heroine of A Week To Be Wicked could be one of those girls. Minerva Highwood has an unusual request of Colin Sandhurst, Lord Payne. She wants him to fake an elopement with her so that he will leave her sister alone, and she can get to Edinburgh to a meeting of the Royal Geological Society and present her findings as an amateur but dedicated scientist. But so much can happen in the week needed to get to Edinburgh, and, as in all of Tessa Dare’s books, like Three Nights with a Scoundrel and A Night to Surrender, it’s going to be wickedly delicious. Do you want to read this book? It’s already a USA Today and New York Times best seller.

Hunter, Jillian. The Duchess Diaries. Signet. 2012. 9780451413123. pap. $7.99.
New York Times best-selling author Hunter is winner of a Romantic Times career achievement award, and author of the immortal Boscastle series. Her new series is “The Bridal Pleasures: series, a Boscastle spin-off, and its third book is The Duchess Diaries. Our heroine is Miss Charlotte Boscastle, headmistress of the Scarfield Academy for Young Ladies, and she’s confided her attraction to the Duke of Wynfield to the pages of her diary but is rather abrupt with him at the academy’s graduation ball.

Alas, diaries are made to be inconveniently lost, and when Charlotte’s goes missing she and the duke find themselves in the midst of scandal. Does Charlotte finally conquer the rakish duke? Listen to our author’s words from her website. Later in life I planned to return to London and become a Shakespearean actress. But then one fateful Friday the thirteenth I met a bass player in a band. He quoted to me from The Taming of the Shrew. His nickname was Beast. Over 25 years, a BA in French, three daughters, and twenty-one books later, I am still married to the man I tamed.

Mallery, Susan. Barefoot Season. Mira: Harlequin. 2012. ISBN 9780778313380. pap. $14.95.
It’s a little sobering to go to New York Times best-selling author Susan Mallery’s home page and see all the series listed there, e.g., Fool’s Gold Romances, The Marcelli Family, The Lone Star Sisters, The Bakery Sisters, and The Buchanan Saga. And now there’s the Blackberry Island series, whose first book, Barefoot Season, was published this April as a Mira Book from Harlequin. On the first page, we meet Michelle Sanderson, apparently strong and tough and yet, as an army vet, walking with a cane after being wounded in Afghanistan. She’s going home to reclaim the Blackberry Island Inn, which has belonged to her family, but she’s shocked to find that it’s being run by Carly Williams, once her best friend, now someone from whom she is bitterly estranged after an act of betrayal.

It takes a summer, and the book’s 400 pages of heartfelt language, for these two young women to untangle their past. On her website, Susan Mallery says that she was incredibly moved by the bravery, heroism, and strong sense of service displayed by the veterans and active duty troops she interviewed for the book, even dedicating it to two women soldiers who helped her especially, and she directs us to three organizations serving their needs. That generosity is reflected in her newest book.

Shalvis, Jill. Forever and a Day. Forever: Hachette. Jul. 2012. 384p. 1455503698.pPap. $7.99.
Jill Shalvis is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author who’s a four-time RITA nominee and three-time National Reader’s Choice winner. She’s written literally dozens of novels, and her series include Animal Magnetism, Wilder Adventures, and Lucky Harbor, going especially strong right now, with books in the series having appeared in April, May, June, and July (Forever and a Day). If the heroines in this series are tough, forthright, single-minded, and sometimes troubled, there’s always a sexy man with a lean, hard body in the background ready to put things in perspective. As the dedication to At Last reads, To those who’ve ever been on a journey, may you find your own hope, peace, and heart. Lucky Harbor is a safe harbor for its heroines, and it’s a safe harbor for readers, too.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.