Thursday, May 13, 2010

Summer Reading

Officially the first day of summer is June 21. Traditionally, the summer season runs from Memorial Day (May 31 this year) through Labor Day (September 6). My summer has always been tied to the school calendar. Since the last day of school for the grands is Friday, May 21, my summer begins Saturday, May 22. Summer is not my season. I hate days when the temperature hits 90 and then goes up and up, when the heat is a muggy blanket enveloping everyone who steps outside to challenge the sun. But I do like the lazy pace of summer—late breakfasts and lingering at the table to engage in meandering conversations, slow drives along back roads to vacation sites, porch talk after sunset with honeysuckle perfuming the air and fireflies dancing in the trees. And reading--summer means more time to read, more time curled in a chair with a book and a glass of iced tea within easy reach or stretched out in bed, oblivious to the numbers on the clock face.

Summer 2010 promises a gracious plenty for romance readers. I have more than fifty books on my must-read list of summer releases (May 25-August 31). I’m particularly thrilled about a tantalizing trio of tempting titles by three remarkable writers whose books I’d rave about even if they were not good friends.

Tempting the Marquess, the second of Sara Lindsey’s delightful Weston family series (release date June 1) boasts a Welsh setting, a brooding hero, a romance-reading heroine, secrets, laughter, and wonderful secondary characters. How can anyone who loves romance fiction resist such a combination?

Tempting Eden, the sizzling debut novel of Margaret Rowe, a. k. a. Maggie Robinson (release date June 1) is darker and more erotic than my usual fare, but I have been fascinated by Eden and Hart’s story since I read the first snippet. I so want to see them win their HEA. I expect to read this one non-stop.

Twice Tempted by a Rogue, the second of Tessa Dare’s not-to-be-missed Stud Club series (release date June 22) features war hero Rhys St. Maur, a complicated and fascinating character, and Meredith Maddox, a fresh and unexpected take on the historical heroine. The mystery thread captivates, but it never overpowers the romance. Book one in the series, One Dance with a Duke, releases May 25, and it has already earned glowing reviews, including a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and a Top Pick! from RT Book Reviews magazine. If you haven’t already seen the buzz-generating, author-created book trailer for the series, be sure to visit Dare’s web site and view it.

Another book that I’m anticipating with a special eagerness is Barely a Lady by Eileen Dreyer. It too is a debut of sorts. Dreyer has written eight excellent mystery novels and collaborated with Jennifer Crusie and Anne Stuart on The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes. (For those who have read TUMF, Dreyer wrote Dee’s story). She has also written more than twenty category novels as Kathleen Korbel. I’ve read and loved most of them. Three of them—A Rose for Maggie, A Soldier’s Heart, and Some Men’s Dreams-- are on my list of all-time favorite romances. Each shows the complexity and emotional power that can be achieved within the limits of category when a gifted writer is in charge. These are books that change the reader. Read them and you’ll understand why Korbel/Dreyer is a multiple Rita winner and in the RWA Hall of Fame. Despite her many achievements, Dreyer is a debutante writer in historical romance. Barely a Lady is both a reunion story and an amnesia tale. I can’t wait to see what Dreyer does with these themes. But I guess I have to contain my eagerness until June 29, the official release date of BAL. Meanwhile, check out her great essay on writing romance.

Other late May and June releases that are much anticipated parts of my summer reading plans include:

May 25 releases:

Sugar Creek, Toni Blake (I love Harmony and can’t wait to go back, but I probably need to kick the air conditioner down a couple of notches when I read this one.)
My Reckless Surrender, Anna Campbell (This one has to be terrific. It’s Anna Campbell with another Regency noir tale. I used to say I didn’t like dark stories. AC changed my mind.)
Married by Morning, Lisa Kleypas (Leo’s story! How long have Hathaway fans been hungering for this HEA? I see myself staying up all night to finish this one too.)
Ten Things I Love About You, Julia Quinn (Sebastian stole my heart in It Happens in London, and I’ve read the excerpt. This one may rival JQ’s best—which is immeasurably good.)
When Marrying a Scoundrel, Kathryn Smith (I was delighted when Kathryn Smith returned to historical romance. She creates unforgettable characters, and this one is a reunion story, my favorite trope.)
His at Night, Sherry Thomas (Even if I weren’t so in love with Sherry Thomas’s prose that I’d read a McDonald’s menu if she wrote it, the book trailer, which left me laughing in appreciation, would have persuaded me to buy this book.)
Honeysuckle Summer, Sherryl Woods (What a great title for a Southern summer book! And I’m loving Woods’ Sweet Magnolias, second generation, stories.)

June 1 releases:

The Forbidden Rose, Joanna Bourne (If you’ve read Jo Bourne’s The Spymaster’s Lady and/or My Lord and Spymaster, you probably know this long-awaited book is a prequel, Maggie and William Doyle story. To say I want to read this book is such an understatement. I hope Adrian’s book is next.)
The Irish Warrior, Kris Kennedy (I’m not a fan of Medievals, but a friend who is also not too fond of them recommended I read Kris Kennedy’s The Conqueror. I did, and I became an immediate fan. I’ve been waiting eagerly for her next book since I finished the first one. I read the excerpt, and now I’m beyond impatient.)
Seven Secrets of Seduction, Anne Mallory (I first read Mallory when Three Nights of Sin got a lot of buzz on the EJ/JQ bulletin board. I’ve been working on her backlist, but I’ll leave the older books to read the new one, which sounds intriguing.)
Crush on You, Christie Ridgway (This starts a new series for Ridgway, one set in California wine country. I like Ridgway’s voice, and I like her characters. I especially like the promise of a new contemporary series that is romance with no suspense in the mix.)

June 8 release:

Along Came a Husband, Helen Brenna (Brenna’s Mirabelle Island books were among my favorite series last year, and I was happy when I heard she was continuing the series. This is Book #4, and I expect the same combination of sweetness and steam that made me love the others.)

June 29 releases:

The Duke’s Captive, Adele Ashworth (I reread My Darling Caroline recently and was reminded of how much I enjoy Ashworth’s books. This is her first new one in a couple of years. I’m excited about reading it.)
A Summer in Sonoma, Robyn Carr ( I think Carr’s Virgin River books are wonderful, but her women’s fiction novel The House on Olive Street is also a favorite. A Summer in Sonoma sounds as if it will be just as good as THOOS, which is being reissued in June.)
My Dangerous Duke, Gaelen Foley (Book #2 of Foley’s Inferno Club series should unravel more of the mystery that captured readers in Book 1. I’m hooked on this series.)
Love in the Afternoon, Lisa Kleypas (What a treat to get two Kleypas books so close together! I’m doubly pleased to see this one released. I’m eager to read Beatrix’s story, and I’m equally eager to be that much closer to a new Lisa Kleypas contemporary.)
One Season of Sunshine, Julia London (Another writer known best for her historical, London has also written some marvelous contemporary romances. I loved her Lear trilogy and was totally engaged by last year’s Summer of Two Wishes. The description of OSOS persuades me that it will be just as good.)
I Kissed an Earl, Julie Anne Long (I’ve been a huge JAL fan since her first book. All of her books have been keepers for me, and I think the Pennyroyal Green series is the best thing she’s written. I’m so jealous of friends who have already read this book that I’ve been waiting for forever—or so it seems.)
Almost Perfect, Susan Mallery (I like small-town romances, and I like Susan Mallery’s voice. AP is the second in Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series. The first book, Chasing Perfect, was a good blend of humor and pathos with a really interesting hero. I know I can count on Mallery for another good read.)

Then come the dog days of summer with sultry days and evening thunderstorms and more great romances to read. July begins with The Bikini Car Wash (release date July 1) by Pamela Morsi whose books are so superbly written that they make me want to throw away my WIP. The first Tuesday in July will see Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage, another Mackenzie book by Jennifer Ashley on shelves. If this one is a tenth as good as last year’s Lord Ian, I’ll read it and head to the boards and the blogs and Twitter to rave about it. Then the last Tuesday in the month will deliver Last Night’s Scandal, Loretta Chase (Peregrine and Olivia all grown up!), Three Nights with a Scoundrel, Tessa Dare (Julian for whom there should be something greater than a K.I.S.S. award), and A Kiss at Midnight, Eloisa James (her first stand-alone novel, a Cinderella tale).

Other can’t-wait-to-read-this-one releases in July are:
Chains of Ice, Christina Dodd-- Book 3 of The Chosen Ones (7/6)
The Wild Irish Sea, Loucinda McGary (7/6)
The Wicked Wyckerly, Patricia Rice (7/6)
The Search, Nora Roberts (7/6)
Money, Honey, Susan Sey (7/6)
Home is Where the Bark Is, Kandy Shepherd (7/6)
Cupid Cats, an anthology with novellas by Connie Brockway, Katie MacAlister, and Vicki Lewis Thompson (7/6)
Charlotte’s Homecoming (HSR), Janice Kay Johnson (7/13)
Daring a Duke, Claudia Dain (7/27)
All I Ever Wanted, Kristan Higgins (7/27)
White Heat, Brenda Novak (7/27)
Summer Brides (anthology): "The Borrowed Bride" by Susan Wiggs, "Bridge to Dreams" by Sheryl Woods, "Sister of the Bride" by Susan Mallery (7/27)

Summer winds down with some sizzles and surprises. Elizabeth Hoyt starts the month with an August 1 release of the first book in her new Maiden Lane series, Wicked Intentions. I don’t know much about an August 24 release, The Devil Wears Plaid (cover not yet available), but I know it’s by Teresa Medeiros and I assume it another book set in Scotland—two good reasons for rushing to the bookstore. The last day of the month Jennifer Crusie’s Maybe This Time (cover not yet available), her first solo book since Bet Me in 2004, will be released. There will be much rejoicing in the land, so my cheers and toasts won’t really be noticed.

Other books that will make my end-of-summer doldrums disappear with the turn of a page:

The Smuggler and the Society Bride, Julia Justiss (8/1)
Burning Up, Susan Andersen (8/31)
Just One Taste, Louisa Edwards (8/31)
Much Ado About Marriage, Karen Hawkins (8/31)
You Only Love Once, Caroline Linden (8/31)
1022 Evergreen Place, Debbie Macomber (8/31)
Finding Perfect, Susan Mallery (8/31)
Body Heat, Brenda Novak (8/31)
Wicked Delights of a Bridal Bed, Tracy Anne Warren (8/31)

Do you read more in the summer? What books are on your summer reading list?


Keira Soleore said...

Janga, this blog is a one-stop shopping list for me. Why bother maintaining my less-than-inclusive lists, when I can come here know exactly what's releasing when? :)

Do you plan on buying and reading every single one of these books? If so, it certainly sounds like a marvelous and busy summer for you.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Thanx sooo much for including The Wild Irish Sea on your list! I hope you enjoy this tale of love, mental telepathy, and selkies. I had a lot of fun writing it. :-)


Jane said...

Hi Janga,
I'm super excited about Lisa Kleypas' two upcoming releases. I'm a big fan of Anne Mallory, too. I already read "Seven Secrets of Seduction," and I loved it.

Janga said...

Keira, thanks for stopping by. I do plan to read all these books this summer. Of course, you know what Robbie Burns said about the "best laid plans of mouse and men," and I'm certain he meant to include women among those whose plans "gang aft agley." My reading of this group may continue into the fall. I hope not because fall will bring its own reading treasures.

Janga said...

Whee! Aunty Cindy is here. I love selkie stories, and I am so eager to join your characters in another Irish escapade.

Janga said...

Jane, I've been impatient to read Leo's story since I finished Mine Till Midnight, and then today Eloisa James posted on the EJ/JQ bulletin board about reading Love in the Afternoon. She says it is among Kleypas's best. I'm intrigued by the premise, a sort of play on Cyrano de Bergerac. Now I'm just as eager to read the last Hathaway book.

quantum said...

Its great to have your summer list Janga!

I have no hope of reading that lot, so I will just select a couple that take my fancy .... one step at a time.

Toni Blake's 'Sugar Creek' I will definitely read if I can get it. Likewise Adele Ashworth's 'The Duke's Captive'. I 'discovered' Adele on the EJ/JQ BB bookclub. What a treasure!

I like the sound of 'Bikini car wash' and 'The wild Irish sea' so might try those as well as for new authors.

With many of the others you list I am still working through the back lists!

I particularly want Mary Balogh's final 'Huxtable' in audio. I think its due this summer.

Other 'new for me' authors I am particularly enjoying are Catherine Anderson .... I loved 'cherished'. Have you read the moving and funny first love scene, where the heroine's strict religious background makes her insist that rules are followed. "everything below the waist is man's work, everything above is forbidden". And Cathy Maxwell.
Neither seem to have a new one for the summer it seems.

Never mind. With such a feast to sample I'm going to get indigestion anyway! *smile*

irisheyes said...

Amazing post Janga! Keira isn't the only one using this as a one-stop shopping list.

I remember when I used to wait for maybe one or two books a year to come out... talk about increasing by tenfold. The amount of writing talent out there boggles the mind.

The one I just can't seem to stop obsessing over is LK's Married By Morning. I just can't wait.

Janga said...

Q, be sure to let me know how you like Morsi. She's one of my favorites. And I think you will really like Loucinda McGary's Irish books.

I don't remember Cherish. I'll have to check it out. Her first two books in the Kendrick/Coulter series, Baby Love and The Phantom Waltz, are my favorites by Anderson.

Janga said...

Irish, I'm pretty obsessive about Married by Morning myself. LOL! I've deliberately avoided reading the excerpts because they just make me more impatient.

I read Anne Gracie's interview with Jo Bourne at Word Wenches today complete with a tiny excerpt and now my eagerness to read The Forbidden Rose is all=consuming. :)