Reading for most of us is a cycle; we get caught up in a genre and it’s hard to let go. We’ll search out similar stories until we hit overload, then we find a new gem usually in a different setting and glom on for a new reading ride. This week offers a glimpse into some of the possibilities for summer romance reading.
The erotic novel is still hot in the news and in reading circles but it’s becoming harder and harder to find a true gem among all the offerings. Our literary correspondent for Good Morning Texas ran across a serial publication by Opal Carew last year which has finally been released in a full length format. His To Command (St. Martin’s Griffin; April 16, 2013) was initially available as six separate self-published e-book installment purchases only, but good news travels fast, and St. Martin’s released all six to great acclaim in a single volume. “Fresh, exciting and extremely hot, with characters you’ll fall in love with. Absolutely fantastic!” was the opinion of our Fresh Fiction reviewer. Hopefully, this throwback to serializing experiment will be repeated as the reading world of adjusts to new technology. Getting a bite-sized chunk of a story, complete with a cliff hanger, can be both exciting and annoying for a reader. But many readers love a series, and serialization of a single story is a “new” way of satisfying that itch.
Southern novels are usually either considered women’s fiction or sweet romance. But a new author, or should we say a familiar author with a new name, has come out with a promising series of “steamy, Southern suspense.” Missing the late Beverly Barton’s high octane suspense romances, I must recommend Ella Grace and the first in her Wildfire series. Midnight Secrets (Ballantine; May 2013) is set in a small-town of Alabama and, as our Fresh Fiction reviewer expresses, Midnight Secrets starts “a new Romantic Suspense series from one of the best in the business.” Three sisters are featured in the trilogy whose lives are shattered by the brutal murder of their parents on a dark and stormy night. This kickoff novel sets a high standard for the series and I can’t wait to read each one. Plus their names are just delightful: Savannah, Samantha and Sabrina Wilde.
For those who like their Southern fiction without so much gritty suspense, Candis Terry introduces Sweet Texas. Now, for those of you who think Texas isn’t really Southern, but instead a force of its own, I will say some stories set in Texas can be considered “Southern” and Anything But Sweet (Avon; July 2013) is one that straddles the divide nicely. Terry has been gaining popularity with her previous series, Sugar Shack, but with Anything But Sweet she should be hitting the big time. Our reviewer says Anything But Sweet is “a definite must read for fans of contemporary romance.” And our book club really wants to talk to Terry because the book is so, well, Texan…and we love it. To find a book that is loved by both reviewers and book club members isn’t always as easy as it seems. Most readers want a good-feel story, and Terry delivers. Be sure to put this one on your To Buy list for July, or pre-order now so you don’t forget—you’ll need a sweet treat in steaming July.
Although the previous books in the Cobbled Court Quilt series were set in Connecticut, Marie Bostwick takes us back to the roots of one of the most beloved secondary characters in the series—Mary Dell. From a small town in Texas, Mary Dell manages to burst—there is no other way to truly describe this—onto the scene in A Thread of Truth and readers have since eagerly awaited glimpses of her in the rest of the Cobbled Court Quilt books. It’s only fitting that we finally get to the meat of Mary Dell’s story; and Between Heaven and Texas by (Kensington; May 2013) delivers on the promise. “Heartouching, and leaves readers yearning for more” really only begins to describe reactions of readers lucky to get preview copies. Bostwick is a favorite with quilters and women’s fiction readers, but Between Heaven and Texas should be the book every contemporary women’s fiction reader wants to savor this summer. Not only do we read about what happens when you get what you think you want but it’s a story that touches women on many levels and yet is filled with humor and a bit of pathos. The only bad point is we had to wait so long. On a brighter note, there is hope that this will be the beginning of more of Mary Dell’s adventures because her story surely isn’t finished yet.
So what books are you looking for this late spring to read? Are you cleaning out your spring reading and getting ready for those beach reads? Or are you on a binge? Let me know.
Sara Reyes is the founder and partner at FreshFiction.com a popular fiction web site for today's reader with new titles, contests, over 50,000 genre fiction author profiles with backlists, and permanently archived reviews, plus all the industry buzz. Fresh Fiction has a biweekly segment (Buy the Book) on WFAA Channel 8 Good Morning Texas to talk about new books not to miss. Believing face-to-face interaction is as important as virtual communities, Fresh Fiction sponsors an annual readers conference, monthly literary events, and book clubs. Follow Sara at @FreshFiction on Twitter or Facebook.com/FreshFiction.