Romance novels can run the gamut from sweet and chaste to torrid and even unsettling Whatever your taste, there's something to intrigue everyone. And now with e-books, there's no need to be embarrassed by a book cover. Bursting bodices and muscled torsos? Bring it on. Here's a roundup of some current romance offerings:
Taming an Impossible Rogue By Susan Enoch St. Martin's Paperbacks. $7.99
The second in Enoch's series The Scandalous Brides focuses on Lady Camille Pryce, one of the desperate women who find employment and a home at the notorious Tantalus Club. She has been disowned by her family and rejected by society for refusing at the altar to marry the Marquis of Fenton. Though they had been engaged since she was an infant, he is a stranger to her. Fenton, in turn, has been ridiculed for his fiancee's flight. To save face, he asks his cousin Keating Blackwood to intervene and convince Camille to leave the scandalous gentlemen's club and go through with their marriage. Keating agrees to help in exchange for 10,000 pounds, which he needs to make amends for his own scandalous and tragic past. Of course, Keating and Camille eventually fall in love, but they each believe they are making the right choice in having Camille go through with a marriage to Fenton. Camille makes an admirable heroine who bravely seeks to survive despite society's scorn, though she put herself in that position by an impetuous decision made for naive reasons. Both she and Keating grow in maturity and strength during their courtship. Fenton, however, remains stuffy and pompous, and Camille's decision in the end is easy.
The Husband Hunt By Lynsay Sands Avon Historical Romance. $7.99
Lisa Madison has always loved Robert Langley, a longtime friend of the family. Unfortunately, he still thinks of her as a little sister, despite her efforts to make him realize she is a perfect mate. So Lisa decides that her feminine charms are best used to find another candidate for husband. Robert comes from a long line of disastrous marriages and wants nothing to do with matrimony. Lisa's grown-up charms have indeed caught his eye, but he has no intentions of marrying anyone. When Lisa finally turns her eyes to other men, Robert finds that it bothers him. Lisa's beauty also attracts the attention of a menacing suitor who won't stop at violence to have her. While Lisa and Robert's banter is amusing, some amazingly stupid behavior by Lisa is just irritating. The author could have found better ways to contrive conflict and suspense than by having the heroine act irrationally. She knows she's in danger from some mysterious stranger, yet she goes storming out of the house alone after an argument without telling anyone? Really? Not to mention that she faints at the sight of blood. After coming to her rescue several times, Robert realizes he's in love with Lisa and overcomes his objection to marriage. And the mystery of the suitor is neatly tied up and resolved.
The Capture of the Earl of Glencrae By Stephanie Laurens Avon Historical Romance. $7.99
Angelica Cynster sees a tall, handsome stranger across a ballroom and immediately knows that he is the one, the gentleman fated to be her husband. The headstrong (some would say forward) woman gets an introduction and chats with him. She suggests a stroll on the terrace, but is shocked a few minutes later when he suddenly covers her mouth, lifts her up, and kidnaps her. It turns out that Viscount Debenham, the man who was supposed to be her hero, is also Dominic Lachlan Guisachan, the Earl of Glencrae, the Scottish lord responsible for previous kidnapping attempts on her two sisters (during which they met their loves). He explains that to save his clan, he must kidnap one of the Cynster daughters and ruin her. His mother has possession of a valuable goblet that must be turned over to bankers by a certain date, or the clan loses all its assets. But his mother wants revenge for her late husband's longtime obsession with Angelica's mother, and wants one of the daughters to suffer before she reveals where she has hidden the goblet. Dominic has decided to give Angelica the whole story in hopes that she will agree to come back to Glencrae with him and play out the charade of a "ruined" woman. In return, he would marry her to avert any scandal. Deciding that he is an honorable man who may yet turn out to be her hero, Angelica agrees to help him save his clan, but reserves her decision on marriage until after the goblet is retrieved. That will give her time to make him fall in love with her. Brave, smart, and at times even manipulative, Angelica makes an appealing heroine against whom Dominic and his mother haven't a chance.
Oracle's Moon By Thea Harrison Berkley Sensation. $7.99
In Harrison's latest Novel of the Elder Races, Grace Andreas is the reluctant and overwhelmed Oracle of Louisville, Ky. With the death of her sister, Petra, and Petra's husband, Grace suddenly inherits the Oracle's power and responsibilities and also her sister's two young children. Then Grace comes under the protection of Khalil, Demonkind and a powerful Djinn prince. Driven by concern for the children because of his own tragedy with his daughter, he decides to act as their guardian. Overbearing and intense as only an immortal and gorgeous being can be, he initially looks down on the overburdened Grace and her shortcomings as a parent. But the courage and determination she shows when she and the children come under danger draws his respect and interest. The interest soon escalates into mutual sexual attraction, but Khalil is reminded that he should not become too attached to a mortal woman. As Grace grows into her power, she discovers abilities that become important to Djinn-kind and that also make her the target of enemies. As her powers grow, there is promise that Grace and Kahlil will have a satisfying happily-ever-after.
Lover Reborn By J.R. Ward NAL. $27.95
J.R. Ward's Novels of the Black Dagger Brotherhood are known for their violence, heart-wrenching emotion, and smoking-hot alpha males. Her long-awaited Lover Reborn is a satisfying entry in the vampire series. The Brotherhood are the guardians of the vampire race, protecting them against their enemies, the Lesseps. Their battle has been going on for centuries, unbeknownst to oblivious humans. Torment is one of the vampire warriors, a broken male slowly trying to heal from the devastating loss of his pregnant shellan, or mate, killed by a Lesser. His body may be getting stronger, but his mind and heart are still with his shellan. Lassiter, a fallen angel with multiple piercings and a snarky attitude, has been sent to help Tohr. Because Tohr will not let go of his fallen shellan's memory, her spirit and that of her unborn child cannot find rest and go into the Fade. Helping Tohr is also Lassiter's last chance at redemption.
Ward is a master at laying her characters' emotions bare, drawing the reader in to their struggles and heartbreak and joy. She also satisfyingly brings stories full circle, giving symmetry to the resolution. Her next book in the series may be her most eagerly anticipated (and controversial) yet: the story of Qhuinn and Blaylock, two warriors for the Brotherhood.