First up this week is Jo Beverley's Winter Fire (Signet Historical). I had the pleasure of listening to Ms. Beverley speak about conflict in our books at the NJ Romance Writers conference, and she was great. For the writers among us, if you get the chance to hear her, grab it. Anyway, back to the book. Genova Smith is bored, traveling with the two elderly women who've taken her on this trip as their companion, but having a baby join their traveling party stirs all sorts of things up, including Genova, when the "father" of the child assaults her with a kiss in her room at the inn. Things get even more interesting when she discovers the man's real identity, Ash, Marquess of Ashart. Of course in Ms. Beverley's stories, there are complications which prevent our hero and heroine from being together, and they're quite difficult to overcome. You'll be cheering for this pair, though, even when it looks as if they'll never be together. I'm borrowing four of Cupid's five arrows for this one. Great historical detail and a charming hero.
Next I have a book I've been waiting forever to read: Jodi Thomas's When a Texan Gambles (Jove). If you're a regular here, you'll recall that I reviewed (and loved) Ms. Thomas's "The Texan's Wager" some time ago. Here, at last, is the second book in the trilogy, this time out with Sarah Andrews married to the husband she's been assigned in the "wife lottery." Except that her husband, Sam Gatlin, hasn't really planned on being a husband. He never figured on winning Sarah in the lottery, but now he's got some adjusting to do. I think I mentioned previously how much I liked Ms. Thomas's characters, how much her writing reminds me of LaVyrle Spencer's, drawing you in and making you believe in these people and their stories. This book is no different, and it's a definite keeper for me. I think I'll be adding to my Jodi Thomas collection by hunting up some of her backlist now. This one earns four arrows as well.
Finally is Susan King's Kissing the Countess (Signet Historical). Evan Mackenzie has no intention of staying in the Highlands. He only wants to get rid of the property he's inherited, along with all his painful memories. Getting caught in a compromising position with Catriona MacConn changes his plans just a little when they're forced to marry. But Catriona has a few secrets that could put her new husband in jeopardy, along with her own family if she doesn't comply with someone else's wishes. Wonderful setting--you all know how much I love Scottish romances by now, don't you?--and a great story. Another four arrows to this one.