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Smooth Criminals

The pages of romance are populated by any number of gamblers, rakes, mercenaries, courtesans, femme fatales, hoydens, and other scapegraces who don't care to play by society's starchy rules.  This month's ne'er-do-wells, though, take their roguishness a step further.  They don't just bend the rules; they break the law.

What is it about bad boys? (And wicked women too-- I wouldn't leave them out!)  As much as we condemn their actions, we have a strange fascination with outlaws.  For centuries, we've made celebrities of them-- turned them into legends, even.  (I'm looking at you, Robin Hood! Rebel against an oppressive king, yes, but a robber all the same.)  Granted, to the ancient Greeks a clever thief was a legitimate hero (just look at Odysseus), but we've romanticized our fair share of criminals since that time.

Face it: if I say "pirate," what comes to mind?  Maybe someone who downloads music and videos illegally. (Thank you, recording industry.)  Likely Johnny Depp, Errol Flynn, or Robert Newton (better known to many as Long John Silver) will get a starring role in your thoughts.  Maybe you'll mentally list a few historical pirates: Blackbeard, Anne Bonny, Henry Morgan, Captain Kidd.  If you're a lover of classical music, Penzance may figure into things. 

But I guarantee, somewhere in the back of your head (not too far back-- this is a romance blog, after all!) will be an image of an agile, athletic, ruggedly handsome man (the scars only increase his appeal) with a loose shirt, tight pants, and a skilled way with his... cutlass.  And until I mention them, I doubt that vicious murder, robbery, kidnapping, or terrorism have entered very far into your imaginings.  And it's not just pirates we romanticize-- try "highwayman."  "Jewel thief."  (Even chance you pictured a woman in a catsuit, there.)  "Assassin."  (Think that one's trickier?  Shh, Antonio Banderas is here to help.)  Or how about plain old "outlaw?" (That Billy the Kid was quite a charmer....)

So what is the appeal?  Is it the danger of life on the edge?  The ill-gotten gains?  The whiff of rebellion against authority?  The way they flaunt rules to which the the rest of us meekly submit?  I admit, there's something darkly charismatic about a criminal in love.  It's all very well for a lover to say he'd die for you (nice gesture, dude, but now I need a new boyfriend); how about one who'd kill for you?  And then, of course, there's that ultimate romantic fantasy-- that the love of a good woman will reform him.  (In the real world, we call that "crazy-dangerous wishful thinking.")  Whatever the appeal, the criminal lover is undeniably here to stay, and he (or she!) will find loads of willing accomplices in the romance community.

If you're ready for a quick getaway of your own, here are a few smooth criminals eager to steal your heart and take you along for the ride:

Hot Ice by Cherry Adair (Fiction Adair)
Shaedes of Gray by Amanda Bonilla (PbkFantasy Bonilla)
Star-Crossed Seduction by Jenny Brown (PbkRomance Brown)
The Sandalwood Princess by Loretta Chase (Fiction Chase)
Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer (Fiction Crusie)
Mesmerized by Lauren Dane (PbkRomance Dane)
Always A Scoundrel by Suzanne Enoch (PbkRomance Enoch)
Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep (PbkFantasy Estep)
The Dragon's Bride by Jo Beverley (LP Beverley)
Skin Game by Ava Gray (PbkRomance Gray)
Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison (PbkRomance Harrison)
Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan (Fiction Hogan)
Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt (PbkRomance Hoyt)
The Pirate Lord by Sabrina Jeffries (PbkRomance Jeffries)
The Landlord's Black-Eyed Daughter by Mary Ellen Dennis (PbkRomance Dennis)
A Five Year Plan by Philip Kerr (Fiction Kerr)
A Loving Scoundrel by Johanna Lindsey (Fiction Lindsey)
Touch of a Thief by Mia Marlowe (PbkRomance Marlowe)
Devil May Care by Sheri McInnis (Fiction McInnis)
Ultimate Weapon by Shannon McKenna (PbkRomance McKenna)
Forever a Lady by Delilah Marvelle (PbkRomance Marvelle)
A Wanted Man by Linda Lael Miller (Fiction Miller)
Stealing Mona Lisa by Carson Morton (Fiction Morton)
Burning Lamp by Amanda Quick (Fiction Quick)
Sleepwalker by Karen Robards (Fiction Robards)
Homeport by Nora Roberts (Fiction Roberts)
Give Me a Texas Outlaw by Jodi Thomas, et al. (PbkRomance Give)
Black Lion's Bride by Tina St. John (LP St. John)
Passion and Pleasure in London by Melody Thomas (PbkRomance Thomas)
Covet by J. R. Ward (PbkRomance Ward)

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