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New releases, from sweet to bittersweet

Recent romance releases include a sweet story about struggling newlyweds, a twist on a very familiar theme, and a bittersweet tale of love among Shifters.

Recent romance releases include a sweet story about struggling newlyweds, a twist on a very familiar theme, and a bittersweet tale of love among Shifters.

nolead begins Midnight Promises nolead ends nolead begins

By Sherryl Woods

Harlequin Mira, $7.99 paperback

nolead ends Midnight Promises continues the story of single mother Karen Ames and sexy personal trainer Elliott Cruz. We first met them in Woods' Feels Like Family, a previous entry in the Sweet Magnolia series, in which they were secondary characters.

Now, they're married, and the story focuses on their struggles to overcome their emotional baggage and make their marriage work. Karen, abandoned by her first husband with two small children and thousands in debt, has some serious trust issues. A paralyzing fear about money woes flares up when Elliott joins in a partnership to open a new gym. Adding to their problems is Elliott's decision to keep details from Karen, thinking to spare her worry. While strange to read a romance in which the wooing has already happened, Woods' book focuses on the emotional journey of her lovers and the growth they experience.

nolead begins
Loving Lady Marcia
nolead ends nolead begins By Kieran Kramer

St. Martin's Paperback, $7.99 paperback

nolead ends Here's a story of the lovely Lady Marcia Sherwood. Of the family Brady. With siblings Janice, Cynthia, Gregory, Peter, and Robert. (Yes, even a servant named Alice.) As a teenager, she loses her heart to a young man who takes advantage of her, then leaves for America. Five years later, Duncan Lattimore, an earl and older brother of the man who ruined her, learns what his cad of a brother did and decides that he will make things right by marrying Marcia, whom he has long admired. But first he has to woo her. Marcia fights the growing attraction between them, and things get more complicated when Duncan's brother, Finn, shows up again, hoping to rekindle his romance with Marcia. And of course there is a scene involving a ball and Marcia's nose.

nolead begins The Lady Risks All
nolead ends nolead begins By Stephanie Laurens

Avon, $7.99 paperback

nolead ends Neville Roscoe is London's gambling king, immensely wealthy and powerful. That he was born to a ducal family is a secret that he must keep buried in order to protect that family.

Miranda Clifford, daughter of a wealthy family, turns to the notorious Roscoe for help when her brother disappears. After they learn that her brother was kidnapped, Miranda risks scandal when she accompanies Roscoe on the search. Out in the countryside, away from society's judging eyes, Miranda gives in to the attraction between them and makes a pass at Roscoe. To his credit, Roscoe at first refuses to compromise her, but their growing relationship cannot be denied.

Having rescued Miranda's brother, they must head back to London and their separate lives. Roscoe is all too aware that he is a wildly unsuitable match for a respectable lady and Miranda is aware of her shaky social standing because of her family's connection to commerce.

Despite the dithering and the rather far-fetched solution to the kidnapping plot, Miranda makes a courageous heroine who eventually engineers her own happy ending.

nolead begins Mate Claimed
nolead ends nolead begins By Jennifer Ashley

Berkley Sensation, $7.99 paperback nolead ends

Iona Duncan has kept hidden that she is a half-Shifter wildcat. With Shifters forced to live in Shiftertowns and wear collars that keep them under control through pain, she knows that if the secret gets out, her life would change.

But Iona's mating need is rising and she can't control the instincts rising within her. Eric Warden is a wildcat Shifter and the leader of the local Shiftertown. When he first sees Iona he immediately senses that she is a Shifter, that her mating hunger is upon her, and that he wants her. Iona is horrified by the changes in her body and how it will affect her comfortable life, but she is losing control and knows she needs Eric's help.

Complicating things is the forced relocation of a pack of almost-feral wolf Shifters to Eric's Shiftertown.

Despite the happy resolution to Iona and Eric's love story, the ending is bittersweet because of all the struggles the lovers still face as Shifters.

nolead begins A Tale of Two Vampires
nolead ends nolead begins By Katie MacAlister

Signet, $7.99 paperback

nolead ends Iolanthe Tennyson has gone to spend the summer visiting her cousin in Austria. She is trying to kick-start a new career in photography after losing her previous job when she spurned the advances of her lecherous boss.

While looking for interesting sites to shoot around the town of St. Andras, Io decides to visit a nearby forest that is rumored to be haunted. Wandering the rather spooky woods, she comes across what looks like a swirling cloud of lights. Examining it closer, she falls into the phenomenon and wakes up later in the dark. She woozily make her way to the road and almost gets run over by the carriage of Baron Nikola Czerny. He takes the woman back to his castle, where Io discovers that she has somehow been catapulted back into the 18th century and that her host is a sexy vampire. And Nikola finds himself drawn to this odd yet adorable woman.

As they fall in love, Io realizes that information she learned in her own time may be able to save Nikola's life, but does she dare to change the future?