Too Wicked to Wed (St. Martin's) by Cheryl Holt is up first. Helen Mansfield has no idea just what her brother's gambling has gotten her into this time, but she knows she has to save her family's home from the infamous Captain Westmoreland. Luke Westmoreland really has no intention of giving up the estate, but if it means having Helen Mansfield, he might reconsider. This one has a lot of heat going for it, but not a lot else, plot-wise. Helen reconsiders, then reconsiders again, and winds up 'helping' Luke become the gentleman he thinks he wants to be before meeting the man who is his father, and Luke suddenly decides it's time to go just when his emotions get involved, leaving this reader in disbelief of his motivation. For a quick, easy read, it's not bad. But it's not a keeper for me. Too much 'purple prose' and too little believable conflict.
The Falcon's Bride (Love Spell) by Dawn Thompson is next, with Thea Barrington finding out just what a cad her fiance is. The falcon who saves her from the brute intrigues her and then frightens her, when she unexpectedly finds herself more than a hundred years in the past with its owner, Ros Drumcondra. This one had a really intriguing premise, and gets off to a good start: mysterious Gypsy woman, Newgrange on the winter solstice. But with all the flips through time at very opportune (or inopportune, depending on the moment) times, I got a little dizzy. I liked this one, but didn't love it nearly as much as I'd expected to. Ros is sexy and strong, by far the best point of this story, aside from the Irish countryside, of which we don't see quite enough to suit me. An interesting tale, but not a keeper.
The Southern Devil (Brava) by Diane Whiteside is up next. Jessamyn Evans needs a temporary 'husband' in order to claim her inheritance. Morgan Evans is not the man she'd hired for the job, but he'll have to do. She needs the map to find legendary gold so she can save her family's horses from her wicked cousin, who, incidentally, also gets a copy of the treasure map. This one is not nearly steamy enough to live up to the Brava name. It does, however, have an interesting quest that gives Morgan and Jessamyn a chance to relive and expand on the attraction they discovered years before she wed his cousin. A good, solid story here, almost enough to make up for the inadequate level of heat.
Until next time, happy reading!