September Publications

Though nearly a year has passed since the World Trade Center attack, readers may be unprepared for Wade, the final entry in Jennifer Blake's Louisiana Gentlemen series (Clay, etc.). Since she was 14, American Chloe Madison has lived in Hazaristan, a fictional "mirror" country, under the rule of her hateful stepbrother, Ahmad. Despite her less than desirable circumstances—Chloe, like all the women, must wear a burqa, has no rights and may be beaten if she so much as speaks too loudly—she refuses to flee with Wade Benedict, an old family friend sent to rescue her. Inevitably, she has a change of heart, but in a particularly outrageous plot twist, Ahmad follows them to the U.S. and declares a personal jihad against the whole Benedict clan. Ever game for a challenge, the Benedicts rally together in an over-the-top, patriotic conclusion that will give readers cause to cheer. (Mira, $6.50 384p ISBN 1-55166-898-X)

The patchwork Tapestry features stories from four mavens of medieval-era romances—Lynn Kurland, Madeline Hunter, Karen Marie Moning and Sherrilyn Kenyon. Moning's hilarious tale ("Into the Dreaming") of a contemporary writer who lands in the 15th century and falls in love with a Scotsman is the highlight of the collection, and Kurland's "To Kiss in the Shadows," a romance between a blemished beauty and a dark arts master, provides plenty of lighthearted fun as well. Kenyon's bizarre offering ("Dragonswan"), however, takes readers on a fanciful journey to a time when sexy superhumans fought against beings possessing animal hearts. Hints of the supernatural are threaded throughout these three entries, which makes "An Interrupted Tapestry," Hunter's conventional romance between a German merchant and an English noblewoman, seem strangely out of place. Still, this enchanting, if mismatched, collection is a fitting introduction to the authors' works. (Jove, $7.99 368p ISBN 0-515-13362-0)

Manhattan trauma surgeon Jack Berenger, the hero of Linda Francis Lee's The Ways of Grace, is a poor imitation of ER's Doug Ross, but dippy Grace Colebrook falls for his brooding charm anyway. Shortly after running out on her own wedding, Grace lands in bed with Jack, her new neighbor. Filled with regret the next morning, she vows to avoid him, but when she loses her job, she seeks solace in his arms once again. Their relationship continues in this manner for much of the novel even though it's never clear why Jack is drawn to the addlebrained Grace in the first place. Clichéd hospital scenes, which feature Jack pulling patients back from near death, do little to enhance the story, but Ruth, Grace's young charge, adds humor and heart to Lee's (Nightingale's Gate) trite tale. (Ivy, $6.99 368p ISBN 0-8041-1995-3)

A sparkling combination of Southern charm and sexy pyrotechnics, the second book in JoAnn Ross's Callahan Brothers trilogy (following Blue Bayou) jazzes up a familiar formula. Having spent the last few years chasing down a serial killer, FBI agent Finn Callahan is less than thrilled when he's forced to take a leave of absence, but his return to his hometown of Blue Bayou, La., couldn't have been more timely. The cast of River Road, a popular prime-time soap, has descended upon the town and begun filming at a nearby mansion, and the show's gorgeous star, Julia Summers, is in need of a bodyguard. The romance between the by-the-book agent and strong-willed actress crackles, and their verbal sparring keeps the narrative moving at an energetic clip. Readers who have read the first book in this trilogy will be heartily entertained; those who haven't will rush out to buy it after savoring this delightful entry. (Pocket, $6.99 384p ISBN 0-7434-3683-0)

Alpine Obituary, the 15th entry in Mary Daheim's series featuring Alpine Advocate publisher Emma Lord and her cohorts—the forthright and all-knowing Vida, an Advocate editor, and Sheriff Milo, Emma's former lover—is far more sedate than her earlier offerings (Alpine Nemesis, etc.). Still distraught over the death of her lover, Emma mopes through the first half of the novel and even considers turning down a request by Marsha, the local judge, to look into a threatening letter she has received. But when Emma learns that Marsha and Jack Froland, an elderly resident who may have been murdered, are distantly related, she decides to find out if the two incidents are connected. Despite its combustible conclusion and credible characterizations, this slow-moving installment isn't likely to win over readers new to the series. (Fawcett, $6.99 320p ISBN 0-345-44791-3)