Several people suggested “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon. This was far and away the most suggested book, and it’s a series, too! “In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon--when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she finds herself in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord...1743. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life ...and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.”
“Like water for chocolate” by Laura Esquivel is another great suggestion seconded by others: “A passionately in love young couple is blocked from marrying by the demands of the young woman's cold and selfish mother. To be near his love, the young man marries her sister, and she expresses her passion for him through her cooking – with unintended passionate results.” With passionate love, revolution, and great cooking, this will keep you warm at night!
Another patron suggested Sherrilyn Kenyon’s “Dark Hunter” series. Start with “Fantasy Lover” and go from there. What is the Dark-Hunter credo? “We are Darkness. We are Shadow. We, alone, stand between mankind and those who would see mankind destroyed. And we are eternal.” They are tough and tormented, just waiting for the right woman to open their jaded hearts.
Laurell K Hamilton is another author that will get you to breathe harder and fan your face. My favorite is her Meredith Gentry series, starting with “A kiss of shadows”. The elven Princess Meredith Gentry has fled her cruel aunt, Queen Andais, for Los Angeles. Using her magic to pass for human, she begins a life as a private eye specializing in supernatural crime, but Doyle, the Queen's assassin, has been sent to bring her back. Deadly faery politics, a resourceful heroine, and great sex scenes, you will lap this up.
Sandra Brown writes great romantic thrillers set in the heat of the South. You’ll stay warm in both senses! “Fat Tuesday” is one example where sparks fly and sweat drips as Burke Basile, a cop with nothing left to lose focuses on his nemesis, a flamboyant attorney who helps killers evade justice. His shocking revenge centers on kidnapping Remy, the lawyer's trophy wife. But Burke hasn't planned on the electric attraction he'll feel for this desperate woman, who rose from the slums of New Orleans to marry a man she can never love. Nor can he predict the fierce duel that will explode as the clock ticks toward midnight on Fat Tuesday, when all masks will be stripped away--and Burke must confront his own terrifying secret. Start here, but read them all!
JD Robb is the pseudonym Nora Roberts uses to write the popular “In death” series. Intrigue, passion and suspense fill the series, but this Christmas season go for “Midnight in death” to really get you in the mood as Lieutenant Eve Dallas makes the Christmas list of a killer out for revenge.
Colin Cotterill’s Dr Siri Paiboun series is set in the communist Laos of the 1970’s. Not hot in a sexy sense, the heat and humidity of Laos is so vivid you will be surprised at the cold outside your window. In “The coroner’s lunch”, elderly Dr Siri has been appointed national coroner since he is the only forensic doctor left in the entire country. He is expected to come up with the answers the party wants. But at his age, he reasons, what can they do to him? And he knows he cannot fail the dead who come into his care without risk of incurring their boundless displeasure. Eternity could be a long time to have the spirits mad at you.
If sitting in the bright warm sun in Italy is the dream that keeps you going in these dark days of the year, you will enjoy Frances Mayes’ “Under the Tuscan sun”. Buying a villa in the spectacular Italian countryside is a wonderful fantasy -- even if it needs immediate loving care. This is an enchanting true account of her love affair with Tuscany: of scouring the neighborhood for the perfect panettone and the perfect plumber; of mornings spent cultivating her garden, and afternoons spent enjoying its fruits in leisurely lunches on the sun drenched terrace; of jaunts through the hill towns in search of renowned wines; and the renewal not only of a house, but also of the spirit.
Pre-Civil War New Orleans was a hotbed (in both senses) of cosmopolitan, multi-racial intrigue. Barbara Hambly’s Benjamin January series follows a free black man - educated as a surgeon and as a musician - as he navigates both the mysteries he finds in steamy New Orleans and pushes the limits to his freedom as a colored man and ex-slave. Start with “A free man of color” and be transported to the center of the cosmopolitan South in an age when both its glories and the forces which would tear it apart are equally in evidence.
Thinking about heat, what is it like for a woman wearing a black hijab in hot Saudi Arabia? Fast-paced and utterly transporting, “Finding Nouf” by Zoe Ferraris is a riveting mystery and an unprecedented window into the lives of those in Saudi Arabia. When sixteen-year-old Nouf goes missing, her prominent family calls on Nayir al-Sharqi - a pious desert guide - to lead the search party. He quickly realizes that if he wants to gain access to the hidden world of women, he will have to join forces with Katya Hijazi, a female lab worker at the coroner's office who is bold enough to bare her face and to work in public. Their partnership challenges Nayir and forces him to reconcile his desire for female companionship within the parameters imposed by his beliefs. Read other books by this author too!
What are your favorite "hot" reads?