Susan Grant, . . Love Spell, $6.99 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-505-52542-0

The first in a five-book series (to be written by several authors), this adrenaline-laced, romantic adventure seizes the reader's attention with its gutsy, larger-than-life characters and compelling, colorful vision of the future. The novel opens in 2006 as U.S. Air Force fighter Bree "Bonzai" Maguire is preparing for a routine patrol between North and South Korea. She feels a shiver of apprehension and soon finds her foreboding to be well founded when she and her wingman, Cam, are trapped by a mad scientist and frozen alive—until treasure hunter Ty Armstrong rescues her 170 years later. Bree awakens to a new era in human history, one enhanced by advanced technologies but bereft of freedom. Almost immediately, Bree is stolen from Ty by the prince of the Kingdom of Asia, Kyber, who offers her innumerable luxuries. Bree knows, however, that she's little more than a treasured pet to him. Desperate to find her wingman, Bree turns to Ty, but she soon learns that he's as helpless as she and that his country, formerly the U.S. but now the bloated and unstable United Colonies of Earth, is even worse than Kyber's benevolent dictatorship. If Grant's (The Star Princess , etc.) faithful fighter jet descriptions don't snag readers from the outset, her fierce, funny, tough-as-nails heroine will. With its cliffhanger conclusion, awe-inspiring characters and droll humor, this book is a strong launch for a very promising series. (Apr.)

Forecast: The "action romance" niche is small but growing, and high-caliber tales like this one will ensure that it continues to do so. A national advertising campaign should put Banzai on many romance readers' wish lists, but the book also holds crossover appeal for sci-fi/fantasy fans.