E-books sizzle with steamy stories of romance

You won’t just find romance between the sheets . . . of a book. The country’s most popular genre in print was also one of the first to take e-reading by storm. Thousands are already enjoying romance novellas on their smartphones.

You might join them with Courtney Milan, who writes elegant and intelligent historical romance, not stories of cardboard people moving around a pretty backdrop. The Governess Affair (99 cents) introduces Milan’s new series coming later this summer, and features Serena, a strong young woman who was the victim of a duke’s crime. Hugo Marshall, an ambitious man who works for the duke and smooths out all the horrible man’s problems, finds he can’t smooth this over, even though Serena could ruin everything for him. This self-published novella by the best-selling author is available at all major digital book retailers.

(Scott Eells/BLOOMBERG) - A digital book is displayed on an iPad.

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If you like contemporary stories, try Slow Summer Kisses , the new e-novella by Shannon Stacey (Carina, $2.99). When Anna is laid off through downsizing in the finance industry, she heads to her grandparents’ cottage in New Hampshire, armed with a stack of résumés and lots of determination. But then she sees the next-door neighbor, Cameron, a man who is her laid-back opposite. Before summer is over, the attraction between these opposites will set the boat deck on fire.

For a longer e-book experience, consider About Last Night by Ruthie Knox (Loveswept, $2.99). Cath Talarico is a wild woman forcibly contained in her calm and quiet shell. Nev Chamberlain is a pinstriped banker on the outside, but secretly frustrated and passionate on the inside. They can’t stay away from each other for long.

In Her Best Worst Mistake by Sarah Mayberry (Small Cow; e-book, $2.99), Martin St. Clair thinks Violet Sutcliffe is too loud, too inappropriate and too much. That’s just fine because Violet thinks Martin is stuffy, repressed, and the wrong man for her best friend, Elizabeth. But when Elizabeth breaks her engagement and leaves for Australia, Violet and Martin discover that beneath their dislike is something intoxicating.

Karina Bliss’s Bring Him Home introduces Nate Wyatt in paperback (Harlequin, $5.50) and e-reader format ($4.99). Nate barely survived fighting in Afghanistan. Claire Langford is the widow of his best friend. She’s trying to start a new, unexpected life, but she needs Nate’s help to do it. This story is powerfully touching and sharp.

If you’ve got more time, pack your bag — or e-reader — with these longer novels:

Tessa Dare’s series takes place in Spindle Cove, a seaside town full of misfits. In A Week to Be Wicked (Avon; paperback, $7.99; e-book, $4.99), Minerva Highwood teams up with Lord Payne to stage a fake elopement so she can get to Scotland to unveil her paleontological discovery. Dare’s A Lady by Midnight will be published in late August and promises to be just as adventurous.

In Molly O’Keefe’s forthcoming Can’t Buy Me Love (Bantam; paperback and e-book, $7.99), an elderly man decides to create turmoil by staging a fake engagement to a very young, very attractive woman. When the engagement portrait reaches the man’s two children, they hurry home to stop him — which is exactly what he wanted. But the fake fiancee and his son find themselves terribly attracted to each other — which is the last thing either of them wants. The sequel is scheduled for late July, and it’s just as good. O’Keefe’s comic romances will make you snort-laugh in public.

Sherry Thomas is among the most talented and brilliant writers in romance. In Beguiling the Beauty (Berkley; paperback and e-book, $7.99), the first book in her new Fitzhugh trilogy, Venetia Easterbrook seeks revenge on the Duke of Lexington. But when he falls for her, she’s horrified to discover she’s not as immune or vengeful as she thought. Ravishing the Heiress , the sequel coming in July, is about an arranged marriage between two people who planned to be practical. Things never go according to plan, fortunately. These novels, especially the second one, will probably make you cry, but remember, this is romance: The story will always end happily.

More on summer reading:

Beach reading: Sojourns gone sour

Which e-reader is best on the beach?

Summertime reading for D.C. area leaders

10 books we've loved this year

10 books to anticipate this fall

Wendell is co-founder of the romance novel Web site TrashyBooks.com and the author of “Everything I Know About Love, I Learned from Romance Novels.”

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