Captivating Romance from Jeffries, Phillips, Putney, & Thomas | Romance Reviews

MANY HAPPY (OR NOT) RETURNS The notion of past events resurfacing to impact the present is nothing new. There are plenty of examples in almost all areas of fiction, but this concept seems to resonate particularly well in romance and women’s fiction, perhaps because they are both character-driven, relationship-based genres. Sometimes the main characters are the catalyst for these events, but whether perpetrated by the protagonist or an outside force, the result is the same. The past affects the present, causing turmoil, and the characters are compelled to deal with the fallout. In truth, it’s a winning plot pattern, and many authors make good use of it. Check out some of the recent “happenings” below.

redstarJeffries, Sabrina. How the Scoundrel Seduces. Pocket. (Duke’s Men, Bk. 3). Sept. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9781451693492. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781451693539. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

howthescoundrelseduces081514When a search for the truth about her background for the sake of her inheritance sends Lady Zoe Keane to the “Duke’s Men” of Manton’s Investigations, she is sure of two things: she must know if she is truly her father’s daughter and she doesn’t want rude, mocking Tristan Bonnaud, a man who once held her at gunpoint, handling her case. Naturally, Tristan ends up being the only person capable of doing the job—and for dangerous reasons of his own is more than willing to oblige. A cynical, well-born bastard hero who doesn’t believe in romance and a spirited, titled heroine who would prefer to marry for love are conflicted from their first mind-shattering kiss. VERDICT Vivid, well-described characters, both old and new, add depth, while a brash, adventurous American cousin spices things up. Old animosities, cruel betrayals, life-­changing secrets, and class issues fuel the plot of this sexy, vengeance-driven tale that touches on cultural diversity, explores the question of honesty, and nicely expands ­Jeffries’s world. Jeffries (When the Rogue Returns) lives in Cary, NC.

redstarPhillips, Susan Elizabeth. Heroes Are My Weakness. Morrow. Aug. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780062106070. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062106117. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

heroesaremyweakness081514Returning to Moonraker Cottage, her childhood summertime haunt on Maine’s remote Peregrine Island, ventriloquist Annie Hewitt wants to stay only long enough to fulfill the terms of her inheritance and find a mysterious legacy left by her mother. She definitely doesn’t want to have anything to do with popular author Theo Harp, the stepbrother whose cruel betrayal almost killed her as a teenager and whose twisted horror novels prove he’s only gotten worse. When their interests collide, the aftermath is unexpected, throwing everything Annie believes into chaos. Old secrets, renewed passions, and hidden scandals combine with rapier wit and smart, sharp comments from Annie’s puppet alter egos in this nonstop, red herring–laced romance. VERDICT In a stunning change of pace, Phillips reveals a brilliant flair for the gothic as she channels the Brontës, Daphne du Maurier, Victoria Holt, and Phyllis Whitney in a riveting, updated tale featuring a brooding, dangerous hero, a threatened (but definitely not classically helpless) heroine, and a chilling, foreboding setting (complete with a windswept cliff-top mansion). An unforgettable, deliciously spicy romance that readers won’t want to put down. Phillips (The Great Escape) lives in the Chicago suburbs. [See Prepub Alert, 5/19/14.]

redstarPutney, Mary Jo. Not Quite a Wife. Zebra: Kensington. (Lost Lords, Bk. 6). Sept. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9781420127164. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781420127195. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Not Quite a WifeTen years ago, teenager Laurel Herbert and James, Lord Kirkland, fell hopelessly in love and married after a whirlwind courtship—only to separate soon after owing to opposing values. Now, because of a chance mugging and a brief, passionate interlude, they are back in each other’s lives attempting a civilized rapprochement—all for the sake of an unplanned baby. But their paths have taken new turns, and Laurel’s work with abused women and children, while sometimes dangerous, is too important to give up, but can it be reconciled with her situation as James’s countess? VERDICT A deeply caring, capable heroine who struggles with her feelings about violence and a ruthless, protective spymaster hero with a well-honed sense of justice gradually work through their differences to find common ground in this provocative, penetrating romance. Undeniable passion wars with clashing views on right and wrong in another memorable masterpiece from one of the genre’s best. Gorgeously done. Putney (Sometimes a Rogue) lives in Baltimore.

redstarThomas, Sherry. My Beautiful Enemy. Berkley Sensation. Aug. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780425268896. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781101631126. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

beautifulenemy081514In England on a covert mission to retrieve a pair of small jade tablets for her step­father in China, lethal martial arts expert Bai Ying-ying (traveling as demure Catherine Blade) is stunned to come face to face with Leighton Atwood, the only man she has ever loved but thought she had left to die eight years ago in China—a man who is now engaged to another. But Leighton is not the only surprise. A bitter, deadly enemy from her past is in London as well, and when Catherine is targeted, she and Leighton must find a way to work together. VERDICT With incisive character development, deft pacing, and lyrical, nearly poetic prose, Thomas transports readers between remote, breathtaking Chinese Turkestan and teeming late Victorian London. A gripping, mesmerizing romance that is one of Thomas’s most unforgettable yet. Thomas (The Luckiest Lady in London) lives in Austin, TX. [An LJ Editors’ BEA pick, LJ 7/14, p. 31.]

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The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue.
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out of the past…

Brockway, Connie. The Songbird’s Seduction. Montlake Romance. Sept. 2014. 364p. ISBN 9781477824894. pap. $12.95; ebk. ISBN 9781477874882. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Burrowes, Grace. The Traitor. Sourcebooks Casablanca. (Captive Hearts, Bk. 2). Aug. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9781402294990. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781402295003. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Burrowes, Grace. The Laird. Sourcebooks Casablanca. (Captive Hearts, Bk. 3). Sept. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9781402295027. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781402295034. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Carr, Robyn. The Homecoming. Mira: Harlequin. (Thunder Point, Bk. 6). Sept. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780778316442. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781460338391. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Castle, Jayne. The Hot Zone. Jove. (Rainshadow, Bk. 3). Sept. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780515154726. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780698140950. PARANORMAL ROMANCE

Fossen, Delores. Maverick Sheriff. Harlequin Intrigue. (Sweetwater Ranch, Bk. 1). Sept. 2014. 224p. ISBN 9780373697823. pap. $5.50; ebk. ISBN 9781460339060. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Lohmann, Jennifer. Winning Ruby Heart. Harlequin Superromance. Sept. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780373608690. pap. $6.75; ebk. ISBN 9781460339176. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

In the present…MoSTLY

Ekholm, Marion. An Act of Love. Harlequin Heartwarming. Aug. 2014. c.393p. ISBN 9780373366897. pap. $6.50; ebk. ISBN 9781460337608. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Shalvis, Jill. It’s in His Kiss. Grand Central. (Lucky Harbor, Bk. 10). Sept. 2014. c.368p. ISBN 9781455529520. pap. $8; ebk. ISBN 9781455529513. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Stacey, Shannon. Falling for Max. Carina: Harlequin. (Kowalskis, Bk. 9). Aug. 2014. c.288p. ISBN 9780373002290. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781426898778. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Second Time Around

Blake, Jennifer. Wade. Severn House. (Louisiana Gentlemen, Bk. 5). Aug. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780727884138. $28.95. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Cameron, Stella. All Smiles. Severn House. (Mayfair Square, Bk. 2). Aug. 2014. 464p. ISBN 9780727884145. $28.95. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Gerritsen, Tess. Under the Knife. Severn House. Sept. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780727884152. $28.95. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE


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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)