“Under the Boardwalk, by Linda Howard and others; Pocket Books ($7.99, paperback)

“Under the Boardwalk” is an anthology headlined by Linda Howard, and a great book to read on or beyond the boardwalk.

Five short stories are combined in this book that’s reappearing on shelves for the summer reading season.

-“Blue Moon,” by Howard, is the story of a small-town sheriff who falls in love with a mysterious woman living alone in the woods by a river. Mysterious circumstances bring them together during a stormy night, but there is nothing mysterious about the passion and love they find at first sight.

-“Castaway,” by Geralyn Dawson, is a familiar plot, reuniting a couple who married young but was torn apart by a well-meaning father. Years later, Hannah seeks out Drew on his deserted island to ask for a favor. Drew is not happy to see the woman who annulled their marriage … or is he?

-“Ruined,” by Jillian Hunter, has Sydney finding the man of her dreams after being shipwrecked with friends. Rylan is OK with that role, but there is one small problem: Sydney is engaged to marry a duke. This one gets a bit weird at the end, but it’s OK.

-“Buried Treasure,” by Miranda Jarrett, may be the weakest of the five stories, but fans of her series on the Fairbournes may enjoy the tie-in with this story. Miriam is set to do the rational thing and marry a boring, but reliable man. Then her true love, Jack, shows up, returning after years of pirating. He’s determined to win her back. She’s determined to resist. But no one can resist love.

-“Swept Away,” by Mariah Stewart, puts Jeremy and Jody at the beach for an idyllic vacation, where they both consummate the love and passion they have for each other. Not much tension or mystery here, but Stewart does manage a good ending.

How it stacks up

Overall rating: 4 of 5 hearts. These timeless stories are perfect beach or pool reads. Nothing but sweet, pure romance.

Hunk appeal: 10. It was about the best they could all do in the short number of pages they had. Brody (“Blue Moon”) was trusting and understanding; Drew (“Castaway”) tender and forgiving; Rylan (“Ruined”) dark and protective; Jack (“Buried Treasure”) dashing and determined; Jeremy (“Swept Away”) loving and dependable.

Steamy scene grade: XXX. Again, only so many pages.

Happily-ever-after: Good. All ended well, if not a bit rushed.

Also this week …

“Waiting For Nick” and “Considering Kate,” by Nora Roberts (2008, paperback) 5 of 5. These older stories (1997, 2001) have just been re-released in a two-for-one offer. These were sequels of Roberts’ beloved Stanislaski series. “Waiting for Nick” is the story of Natasha and Spence’s oldest daughter, Freddie and Nick LeBeck, whom we met in “Falling for Rachel” as Rachel’s’ brother-in-law. Freddie falls for Nick at age 13 in “Falling for Rachel” and waits until age 24 to make her move. It freaks Nick out at first, but eventually he realizes that he’s loved Freddie for a long time, too.

Kate is Natasha and Spence’s youngest daughter, who at age 25 returns home after a successful dancing career and in “Considering Kate” embarks on her own romance with the handsome carpenter in town, a widower with a precocious 6-year-old. (Like mother, like daughter.)


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