Historical Romance from Alexander, Gracie, & James, Paranormal from Owens, & More | Romance Reviews

Love with a Ghostly Touch This is totally the wrong season to talk about ghosts, yet when I thought about some of the books I’d seen lately—not just in romance—it seemed that perhaps, just possibly, ghosts are making a comeback outside of Halloween tales and have been doing so for some time. These current ghosts are not the scary ones of the old gothic novels or horror stories bent on doing harm but, for the most part, are simply seeking justice or closure or trying to warn the living of some kind of danger. Writers such as Karen Robards, Barbara Freethy, Nora Roberts, and even Victoria Alexander have made good use of similar spirits. Below are a few titles of ghostly intent that are well worth reading.

redstarAlexander, Victoria. The Scandalous Adventures of the Sister of the Bride. Zebra: Kensington. (Millworth Manor). May 2014. 352p. ISBN 9781420132243. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781420132250. HISTORICAL ROMANCEScandalous Adventures of the Sister of the Bride

When Lady Delilah Hargate throws her customary propriety to the wind during a trip to New York and indulges in a scandalous interlude with a man she’s just met, she thinks it is just an unforgettable adventure. Yet her “adventure” turns out to be her future brother-in-law’s good friend and sometimes business partner Sam Russell and he’s now in England for the wedding. Verbal sparks fly and passions sizzle as a pragmatic, very British heroine and an entrepreneurial American hero spar relentlessly and annoy each other brilliantly—all the way to love. VERDICT Rapier wit, excellent repartee, and breathtaking sensuality make this blithe and funny romp a total delight and nicely expands Alexander’s growing Victorian world. Alexander (The Importance of Being Wicked) lives in Omaha.

redstarGracie, Anne. The Winter Bride. Berkley Sensation. (Chance Sisters, Bk. 2). Apr. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780425259269. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781101637500. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

The Winter BrideKeeping an eye on his honeymooning best friend’s elderly aunt and the three Chance sister “nieces” is the last thing footloose bachelor Frederick Monkton-Coombes wants to do. But his mother insists that he marry for the sake of the succession and threatens him with a house party full of marriageable girls to make sure that happens. Fortunately, Damaris Chance does not plan to wed either, so a false betrothal in return for a country cottage seems like the perfect solution. Then the pair are trapped together during a storm, and the game changes dramatically. VERDICT A pretend engagement devolves into a forced marriage when plans go awry in this exquisitely written, perfectly plotted story that features deeply wounded but resilient protagonists and introduces an intriguing, most unconventional new character. Gracie (The Autumn Bride) lives in Melbourne, Australia.

redstarJames, Eloisa. Three Weeks with Lady X. Avon. Apr. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9780062223890. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062223906. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Three Weeks with Lady XThorn Dautry, wealthy businessman and acknowledged bastard son of the Duke of Villiers, needs a well-born wife to insure his future children’s social acceptance. Unfortunately, with his mudlark childhood roots (retrieving lost valuables from the Thames) and fortune made in trade, he’s no gentleman by ton standards. He definitely needs help, and there is no one better to get his new country estate whipped into shape and make him marriageable than sought-after interior stylist and organizational consultant Lady Xenobia India St. Clair. But can she do it in three weeks? And can she keep the passion that flares between them from engulfing them both? VERDICT Sharp, smart protagonists, dazzling in everything but love, eventually sort things out in this witty, deliciously sexy charmer that reprises some favorite characters from James’s “Desperate Duchesses” series and leaves the door open for more tales of Villiers’s kids. James (Once upon a Tower) lives in the New York City area. [See “Editors’ Spring Picks,” LJ 2/15/14.—Ed.]

redstarOwens, Robin D. Ghost Seer. Berkley Sensation. (Ghost Seer, Bk. 1). Apr. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780425268902. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781101631133. PARANORMAL ROMANCE

Ghost SeerOwens leaves her HeartMate Celta world and tumbles back to Earth, Denver to be exact, in a whole new paranormal series. This time the setting is Western, the protagonists are psychically gifted, the action and banter are lively, and the mystery and danger—and the ghosts—are real. Zach Slade has never thought his crow-related “hunches” were anything special, and rational accountant Clare Cermac has never believed in ghosts. When Clare inherits her Great Aunt ­Sandra’s fortune and starts seeing spirits (and they talk to her!) and Zach sees them as well, the two are forced to reconsider and with the help of a clever older woman and a lovable ghostly dog begin to accept their unearthly gifts. VERDICT A practical CPA and a sheriff–turned–reluctant PI struggle to come to terms with their new talents as they are swept up in a nonstop romantic whirl. A spectacular start to what promises to be a terrific series. ­Owens (Heart Fortune) lives in the Denver area.

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Alward, Donna. The House on Blackberry Hill. St. Martin’s Paperbacks. (Jewell Cove, Bk. 1). May 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781250045164. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466843646. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Behre, Mary. Spirited. Berkley Sensation. (Tidewater, Bk. 1). Apr. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780425268612. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781101630242. PARANORMAL ROMANCE


redstarGoodman, Jo. In Want of a Wife. Berkley Sensation. May 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780425264171. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781101606414. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

redstarGuhrke, Laura Lee. How To Lose a Duke in Ten Days. Avon. (American Heiress in London, Bk. 2). May 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780062118196. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062118202. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

redstarLong, Julie Anne. Between the Devil and Ian Eversea. Avon. (Pennyroyal Green, Bk. 9). Apr. 2014. 372p. ISBN 9780062118110. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062118134. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Lowell, Elizabeth. Night Diver. Morrow. May 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780062132826. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062132840. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE

Novak, Brenda. Come Home to Me. Mira: Harlequin. (Whiskey Creek, Bk. 6). Apr. 2014. 416p. ISBN 9780778315919. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781460328569. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Quick, Amanda. Otherwise Engaged. Putnam. Apr. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780399165146. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101621011. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Roberts, Nora. The Collector. Putnam. Apr. 2014. 483p. ISBN 9780399164453. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101617281. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE

Roberts, Nora. Shadow Spell. Berkley. (Cousins O’Dwyer, Bk. 2). Apr. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780425259863. pap. $17; ebk. ISBN 9780698140271. PARANORMAL ROMANCE

Scott, Regina. The Husband Campaign. Love Inspired Historical: Harlequin. (Master Matchmakers, Bk. 3). Apr. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780373282586. pap. $5.99; ebk. ISBN 9781460329450. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Second Time Around

Cates, Tory. Where Aspens Quake. Pocket. Apr. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9781476732572. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781476732626. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

London, Laura. The Windflower. Forever: Grand Central. Apr. 2014. 544p. ISBN 9781455573288. pap. $8; ebk. ISBN 9781455573295. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Librarians’ Day at RWA!

In an atmosphere teeming with the sights, sounds, and flavors of Old West Texas (the Alamo is within walking distance!), librarians from across the country will enjoy a day jam-packed with fun, information, and romance at the annual Librarians’ Day at the Marriott Rivercenter, San Antonio, on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, preceding the annual conference of the Romance Writers of America (RWA; July 24–26). This event features an abundance of informative speakers and panels, complimentary books and other goodies, and the chance to network with authors and colleagues. As of this writing, panels include a discussion of the currently hot topic of LGBTQ romance with L.A. Witt, Sarah Frantz, Radclyffe, SE Jakes, and Suzanne Brockmann. Also, small breakout sessions among librarians and authors Laura Florand, Jennifer Lohmann, and Roni Tewksbury will address ways in which librarians and authors can work together to promote romance. The luncheon speaker will be best-selling author Barbara Samuel, who also writes as Barbara O’Neal and Ruth Wind. This event targets—but is not limited to—local librarians and is open to all; well worth the $25 fee (and that includes lunch!). Go to ow.ly/uPQMM.

RWA Librarian of the Year

Presented to “a librarian who demonstrates outstanding support of romance authors and the romance genre,” this year’s award goes to Sean Gilmartin, teen librarian at Wright Farms Branch, Anythink Library, Thornton, CO. Gilmartin is an enthusiastic supporter of romance fiction of all kinds and is noted for his ability to share his love of the genre with the teens he serves.

RWA Academic Research Grant

Selected from an ever-growing pool of applications, this year’s $5,000 grant was awarded to Amanda Bidnall (Simon Fraser Univ., BC) for her research project on the development of popular romance fiction during the first half of the 20th century, “Domesticating the Mass-Market Romance Novel: A Prehistory.”

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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)