'Tangled Up in You" by Rachel Gibson (Avon Books, $6.99, paperback) is a simple, uncomplicated, pure romance that is easy and fun to read.
Maddie has a secret, and there is a bit of romantic tension.
But there is no lurking evil, no eerie suspense, no mystery to solve. Just romance.
Maddie comes to Truly, Idaho, to visit her past. She left her friends (Clare from "I'm in No Mood for Love," Lucy from "Sex, Lies and Online Dating" and Adele, whose story will be published next fall) to write a story about her mother's murder.
Mick runs a bar in Truly and doesn't really want to talk about the past tragedy, when his mother shot and killed his father and his girlfriend -- Maddie's mom.
He also doesn't want to get tangled up with Maddie. But he falls for her the moment she walks into his bar.
And keeps falling.
Maddie and Mick get closer and closer, but Maddie never reveals her real last name or tells Mick why she's interested in writing a book about his parents' deaths.
Meanwhile, Mick falls in love with Maddie. And vice versa. But seconds after they exchange those three little words, Maddie has to confess.
Mick isn't happy.
That results in about 50 pages of discontent between the two. But it also sets up a happy ending that is vintage romance.
How it stacks up
Overall rating: 3-plus of 5 hearts. It's an easy-to-read, tear-inducing romance with witty and endearing characters.
Hunk appeal: 10. Mick has his moments -- both ways. Sure, he has the right to be angry with Maddie's deception, but he's a bit too harsh about it. Still, he grovels very well.
Steamy scene grade: XXXX. This would be one of the good ways.
Happily-ever-after: Good. Mick does hold a grudge for a while, but he gives Maddie her happily-ever-after beautifully with words like, "I was waiting for you," and "I'm tangled up in you" and "I've been one miserable. ..." Well, enough said.
Many great romance novels have been written through the years. It's worth dusting off these oldies.
"Mercy" by Julie Garwood is well-written, with characters who come alive immediately. It's the sort of book that makes you panic as you near the end because you don't want it to end.
Theo, a Buchanan brother, delves into mayhem and murder while falling deliriously in love with Michelle. A Justice Department lawyer, Theo proves pretty handy in the swamps of Louisiana with some nasty bad guys chasing him and Michelle.
Of course, Michelle is no shrinking, or shrieking, damsel in distress. The surgeon stays cool in dangerous situations, whether she's dodging bullets or Theo's advances.
One, she avoids. The other, she succumbs to.
"Mercy" has a complex, suspenseful plot that blends beautifully with the romance and humorous scenes between Theo and Michelle's family and neighbors in Bowen, La.