Which gifts say "I'm interested, how about you?" to the object of one's affection?
Is an office romance a good idea?
How can whipped cream be used to say "I love you"?
Even those who think they know everything about love might learn a thing or two from "The Everything Romance Book" (Adams, $12.95 paperback) by longtime marrieds Donald and Pamela Baack.
The Baacks' book provides nearly 300 pages of tips for all kinds of romantics, from puppy lovers to golden-agers, and from the newly married to the newly single.
Topics include the role of music, cooking for your date, making yourself more appealing, luck, pitfalls and handling a breakup.
"The Everything Romance Book" is one of several volumes that could enhance the chance for romance this Valentine's Day and beyond.
For those considering the love letter, two collections of letters can provide inspiration to help you construct your own romantic epistle.
In "The 50 Greatest Love Letters of All Time" (Crown, $20), editor David H. Lowenherz offers favorites from the hundreds in his collection.
Novelists, artists, statesmen and composers are among the correspondents. Their declarations of love provide insight into the hearts of these prominent people, who wrote their tender words probably certain that no one but their intended recipients would ever read them.
In an undated letter, Zelda Fitzgerald wrote to her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald: "Without you dearest dearest I couldn't see or hear or feel or think -- or live -- I love you so. ..." In 1918, Harry Truman, then a National Guardsman stationed in France, wrote "I'm sure crazy to see you" to his future wife, Elizabeth "Bess" Wallace, back home in Missouri.
"I love you, and will love you until the day of my death. A thousand kisses ..." wrote French philosopher Voltaire to his niece, Marie Louise Denis, with whom he had a longtime liaison. And in 1972, Elvis fan Marjorie Fossa wrote a letter to The King ("I love you for what you are. ... not for who you are"), which got her a thank-you note and an autographed photo in return.
Everyday folks get their turn to declare love, in "Letters of Love" (Five Star, $12.95 paperback), edited by Salvatore Caputo. The book's 36 letters and stories were selected from entries submitted in a nationwide contest.
"There must have been an angel by my side who led me to you, and he built a bridge to your heart," writes a woman to her fiance on the eve of their wedding. Another woman, involved in a longtime, long-distance romance, writes her first love letter: "You are and always will be the light and love of my life."
And there's an open letter to Herb, "the one that got away," whose marriage proposal the letter-writer rejected 20 years ago -- a decision she still regrets.
Romance-seekers who are handier with a pan than with a pen might turn to "Venus in the Kitchen" (Bloomsbury, $16.95), edited by Norman Douglas. This is a reissue of a book first published in 1952, shortly after Douglas' death.
Unconventional in style (recipes don't specify measurements or cooking times) and ingredients (leopard's marrow in goat's milk?), the concoctions are intended to aid the seducer as well as the seduced.
Serve Brain With Truffles and give your lover something to think about. Or Hare Croquettes, to get your romance off to a jackrabbit start. Get "drunk" on love with Stewed Celery, or serve Testicles of Lamb and -- well, you're on your own with this one.
The recipes are a bit more traditional and utilitarian in "Temptations: Igniting the Pleasure and Power of Aphrodisiacs" (Fireside, $14 paperback) by television's "Cooking Couple," Ellen and Michael Albertson.
Working on the principle that appetite for food can stimulate appetite for love, the Cooking Couple have cooked up recipes that use common ingredients -- including chocolate, coffee, salmon, garlic and parsley ("nature's breath freshener") -- which they say can stimulate and enhance lovemaking.
Among the dishes of desire are Chocolate Fruit Salad, French Onion Soup, Fiery Steak Fajitas (featuring a jalapeno and plenty of garlic) and Double Your Pleasure Gingerbread.
Who wouldn't want a fairy-tale romance? There might be one in store with the help of "Happily Ever After" (HarperResource, $17.95). Author Wendy Paris examines 10 fairy tales and draws upon their characters and situations to provide romantic advice applicable in the real world.
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