April Publications

With its wealth of rapid-fire repartee and smoldering sex scenes, Claudia Dane's To Burn lives up to its title, spinning a red-hot, medieval-era romance between Wulfred, a vengeful Saxon conqueror intent on bending Rome and its people to his will, and Melania, Wulfred's proud and plucky Roman prisoner. As Wulfred and Melania engage in a delightful battle of wills—he deems she should live and suffer as his slave, so she tries every method to kill herself and thwart him—the romantic tension between the pair mounts, but their old enmities may be too great to overcome. An overwrought but seductive romance by one of the genre's fastest rising stars, Dane's newest (after The Marriage Bed) brims with beguiling characters and historical richness. (Leisure, $5.99 384p ISBN 0-8439-4985-6)

Abrupt transitions and stilted dialogue mar Marlene Fanta Shyer's (Second Chances) Two Daughters. The Ehrlichs lead an idyllic life—Libby runs an antiques business; her husband Peter is a distinguished cardiac surgeon; and their daughters, 16-year-old Claudia and 13-year-old Ellery, are seemingly well-adjusted. When Libby and Peter return from a trip to Prague to learn that Ellery is pregnant with the baby of Claudia's much older boyfriend, the Ehrlichs are forced to come to terms with each other and their past. Shyer's narrative flashes from one scene to another like an out of control slide projector, leaving the reader with only vague impressions of her characters. Although several side stories pad this sluggish tale, the plot's many twists are insufficient fodder for readers hungry for fresh insights. (Kensington, $6.99 320p ISBN 0-7582-0037-4)

Lola Carlyle Reveals All in this funny but formulaic contemporary romance between Max Zamora, a covert government operative, and Lola Carlyle, a ditzy blond bombshell and former underwear model. The sexual attraction between this unlikely duo burns brighter than the novel's sunny, tropical setting when they are stranded together on a yacht and then on a deserted island, with Lola's annoying, pint-sized pup providing the only entertainment. While hiding out from a handful of dangerous, drug-ring thugs, their attraction comes to a head, but will it persist once their island adventure is over? Rachel Gibson's (True Confessions) heroine is little more than a walking cliché, but her hard-bitten hero and edgy prose carry the story. (Avon, $6.99 384p ISBN 0-380-81439-0)