Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Romance & Respite: Winter Fun in the Sun

(from kirkusromance.com
by Bobbi Dumas)


Hi romance friends!

Wow, so hasn’t this been one crazy winter? I live in Wisconsin now, but I moved here from Washington, D.C., where’d I’d lived for 20 years (with one year in Paris before I got married), and before that I lived (and grew up) in El Paso, TX.

But in all the years of my life, I think this has been the longest, coldest, darkest winter ever. And based on the comments of my Facebook friends, it sounds like just about everyone would agree, no matter where they are. Today the snow is completely gone, and I opened the windows for my cats. Spring might actually, truly be here (hallelujah!).

Of course one of the many great things about romance novels is that they come in so many genres, heat levels, historical eras—and settings! So it was with real pleasure this winter that I was able to sit in the tundra of Wisconsin and read some terrific books that were set on warm, sunny beaches. I mean look at those covers! Aren’t they the next best thing to a trip to Aruba?

I asked some peachy, beachy romance authors who helped me survive the winter to share some of their recent faves and books they’re looking forward to. Enjoy!

In my last post, Kristan Higgins recommended Virginia Kantra’s Carolina Man, and I couldn’t agree more. This heartfelt romance, set on a North Carolina island, warms the heart and the soul with its Marine hero and twice-shy heroine, and reading about coastal Carolina spread a little sunshine my way.

Virginia recommends:

"I loved Kristan Higgins' Waiting on You (the angst wrapped in sweetness and humor!), but since she recommended me, I'll spread the love around.

Laura Florand's The Chocolate Temptation helped me through a bitter February. Think Cinderella set in the culinary world of contemporary Paris, with fabulous desserts and shoes and a hero who would warm anyone's heart.

Suzanne Brockmann's Do or Die swept me up and away to steamy Florida. The first book in her new Reluctant Heroes series is classic Brockmann: nonstop action, passionate romance and a compelling cast of secondary characters. Breath-stealing, heart-pounding fun.

And finally, I cannot wait to be done with my deadline and dive into Nora Roberts' Shadow Spell. The newest offering in her Cousins O'Dwyer trilogy (read the review of Book 1, Dark Witch, here) is sitting on my e-reader, taunting me. It's Ireland. It's Nora. If that doesn't tempt you away, I don't know what can!"

Beach House

Christie Ridgway’s Beach House No.9 is a sunny, sexy book (and the intro to a fun series) that is high on romance and simmering heat, all with a touch of summer magic. Perfect reads for long, cold winter nights, but great anytime. And don’t miss the series short story included in the Turn Up the Heat anthology alongside Lori Foster and Victoria Dahl!

Christie says:

"Winter was mild in SoCal where I’m from, but spring can be gloomy, so here are my recommendations for everyone waiting for sunny days with bated breath.

Elizabeth Lowell’s romantic suspense novel Night Diver, set on a salvage boat searching for treasure in the Caribbean, will get your pulse pumping! A determined heroine with a tragic past and a sexy Brit who’s more than he appears to be come together during hot days and steamy nights to discover a legendary shipwreck and survive modern day danger. As always, Lowell’s attention to detail made me feel as if I was right there in the middle of the action.

Another shipwreck determines the fate of the heroine of Lynn Kurland’s Dreams of Lilac. A medieval historical romance revolving around the de Piaget family, the characters are engaging and the plot line (including disguises!) vastly entertaining. Though kisses-only, Kurland’s romances always hit me in the center of the heart.

I’m looking forward to The Collector by Nora Roberts. Nothing can get me through a gray day better than one of hers. This book promises murder and mayhem and I’ll happily dig in while I wait for summer."

Finally, romance favorite Roxanne St. Claire has a sexy series set on the sun-kissed beaches of Barefoot Bay. The latest installment, The Barefoot Billionaires, is a collection of three connected love stories. Sunshine! Sand! Tropical waves and sexy billionaires! What else do you need to get you through to spring?!

Roxanne recommends:

"I know this was a brutal winter for so many, but I am fortunate enough to live in the same tropical paradise where I set my books, so 'blustery' means the temperature dropped into the mid-60s. But we still read in the sunshine and I definitely hit gold with a few of my poolside reads that I can happily recommend!

I utterly dBarefoot Billionaireevoured Shoreline Drive by Lily Everett, a completely fresh spin on the modern marriage of convenience. I adored the struggling single mom and the local veterinarian who's secretly in love with her, not to mention a surprisingly sweet teen secondary romance that kept me turning pages. This time, the wedding is only the beginning of a heart-wrenching romance that had me laughing and tearing up all the way through.

Rachel Hauck captures the very essence of a contemporary fairy tale in Princess Ever After. A simple, hometown girl who is 'satisfied' with life discovers she's really a princess of a small European country, and must decide if she's going to meet that challenge or run. With lush prose, a deeply spiritual message, and a sigh-worthy happy ending, this book was an absolutely delightful twist on a familiar favorite.

I can't resist a funny, scary, romantic young adult story, and no one delivers all that like Gena Showalter in her stunningly good White Rabbit Chronicles series. Through The Zombie Glass hit every YA button and then some for me. When the main character gets infected and becomes the very enemy she's fighting, she can't trust anyone, including the boy she loves. Every page is chock full of sparkling wit, dreamy teen romance and a white-knuckle ride on the edge of impending doom."

Happy reading, and happy spring!

Bobbi Dumas is a freelance writer, book reviewer, romance advocate, and founder of ReadARomanceMonth.com. She mostly writes about books and romance for NPR, The Huffington Post and Kirkus.