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Hello, and welcome back! It's warming up here again, sadly. But I can ignore it today, because I'm about to head to D. C. for the annual Romance Writers of America literacy booksigning with friends. Hundreds of authors will be signing, and I think I've narrowed my list to my faves and friends, as well as some I want to try to persuade to come sign at work. It's going to be a lot of fun.

One of the authors who will be there is Linda Howard, with her latest, Burn (Ballantine). Jenner Redwine's got a life, sort of: her boyfriend mooches from her, and she watches every penny from her meat-packing job, but she's got the very best of friends a girl could want. The night she dumps her boyfriend, she buys a lottery ticket, and it turns out Jenner holds the only winner. Her life changes in a big way, and, though it's not unexpected for her scumbag father to show up with his hand out, some of the changes shock her. Some of the changes force her to make hard choices. Seven years later, she moves in new circles, though she's never quite comfortable, and she's got a terrific new friend, Sydney Hazlett. When Sydney wants to go on a charity cruise, Jenner agrees, but the lazy cruise in the Pacific is anything but relaxing. Sydney doesn't make it onto the boat, kidnapped by people who require Jenner to help them on-board, and Cael Traylor is determined Jenner will cooperate, one way or another. Jenner has no idea exactly what's going on, or if Cael and his cohorts are good guys or bad guys, but she knows she'll do what she has to to protect Sydney. She had no idea, however, that being in such close proximity to Cael would be so challenging, or so hot. These two butt heads from the start, but once Jenner gets over her initial shock and fright, she 's a formidable partner for Cael. Their attraction is hot, right from the start, though once she realizes who he is, that puts a bit of a damper on things. For a little while, anyway. This one is filled with Howard's trademark humor intertwined with taut suspense. In this case, knowing early on who the bad guy is and what his aims are doesn't hurt the story at all, because the big question where he's concerned is will he pull off his evil plot, or will they stop him in time? I kept my friends awake into the wee hours last week laughing my head off at this one, and that same quality in the storytelling had another of our group picking the book up at the signing she participated in last week in Boonsboro, Maryland, just to see what I found so hilarious. Cael and Jenner's story is funny and sexy, and Linda Howard, as always, is a real keeper. I can see this is one I'll be rereading. It's earned four and a half of Cupid's five arrows. I can't wait for her next story this fall!

Until next time, happy reading!

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