Enchanted Elizabeth Lowell
Main Relationship: Simon & Ariane
Page Length: 395
Enchanted is the third and final installment in a series. The first two are Untamed and Forbidden, but you don’t have to read the first two novels to enjoy this one. I myself have only read Untamed (and loved it), and while it does provide some back story for the characters, you won’t be lost without it . Needless to say this is one of the better romance novels I’ve ever read. I know, that’s like saying this is the best milk I’ve had past its expiration date; you’re thinking: why are you even drinking expired milk? But really, Enchanted is a medieval historical romance with enough pithy dialogue and plausible plot points to keep you interested. And its hero is a Crusader haunted by his past. Simon the Loyal has to be one of my favorite romance novel heroes; he’s right up there with his brother, Dominic LeSabre.
The Cobra and the Concubine Bonnie Vanak
Main Relationship: Khepri/Kenneth & Badra
Page Length: 340
Disclaimer: I bought this in a 5 for 5 bin at an off-brand bookstore chain. That should tell you a little about its caliber. But again, considering spoiled milk—the book is entertaining and will satisfy anyone’s Sahara fantasies for a while. I think this is why I particularly love this book: it’s set in the middle of the Sarah desert, and I love any desert, especially ones with sand. The novel also provides the British Victorian twist of an orphan raised by desert warriors who falls in love with a desert girl. While the story is rather predictable and the plot dragged along as an afterthought, it’s still a warm read. I enjoyed reading about desert culture and Vanak describes it with a deft and knowledgeable hand.
Across Time Nina Beaumont
Main Relationship: Adrienne/Isabella & Alessandro/Sandro
Page Length: 376
Of all the great reads I’ve found in a free bin at the local book fair, this has to be one of the best. It’s old, over 16 years old, but if you love renaissance romance novels, this is one for you to pick up. The back reads:
Alessandro di Montefiore could not trust his wife. Isabella was a woman known as much for her powerful cruelty as for her startling beauty. Yet when she looked at him with a stranger’s innocence in her passion-darkened eyes, he found himself willing to risk almost anything for the promise of her desire.
Fate had plummeted Adrienne de Beaufort through time into the body of her ancestor, a woman steeped in hatred and betrayal. But Adrienne’s soul was still her own, and only she could prevent the tragedy that lay ahead for Alessandro: death at the hand of the treacherous Isabella…
It certainly has the flair of the Borgais in it. It does have some heavy subject matter within its pages, (actually all the picks but the next one do) so I wouldn’t pick this one up if you’re squeamish. And don’t worry if the multiple names thing is confusing now…I read it and am still half confused.
Lord of a Thousand Nights Madeline Hunter
Main Relationship: Ian & Reyna
Page Length: 357
I know, I know: there are no surprises with that title, but Hunter’s book is surprisingly tame for a romance novel. Its shock factor is low, and the characters are solidly created. Thousand Nights was another free bin buy, and, like Across Time, would have been worth paying for. Not only does it have some fantastic romance, but has an interesting mystery plot as well. A plot, that while simmering the whole time, fully develops right where is should and isn’t trite or forced or stupidly unexplainable.
I think by now dear reader, you know I don’t just recommend books. Sure, I’ll read practically any book, but for me to actually recommend them, I have to really think they’re good. These four are. They’re some of my favorite romance novels and they’ll keep you thinking of keeps and sand, crusaders and warriors all the way through a wickedly cold winter.