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Romance: Second-chance cowboy
A rich girl finds love in a no-frills bar in One Night Charmer by Maisey Yates, part of her Copper Ridge series. After walking away from family strife, Sierra West needs work, and she finds it at Copper Ridge, a local Oregon dive bar owned by Ace Thompson. He might be the preacher’s son, but bad luck in love has given the gruff man a hard edge. He hires Sierra but finds himself unable to stop flirting and playfully sparring with his new server. They keep their attraction at bay with banter, but that doesn’t last long. Pretenses come down, clothes come off and Sierra and Ace’s best intentions are burned away in shared passion. Will a one-night stand lead to a lasting romance? It doesn’t seem likely for distrustful Ace and independent Sierra. But they can’t go their separate ways, so perhaps trying to walk together isn’t such a terrible idea. This is a satisfying small-town read with emotional oomph—and it’s great fun to watch a curmudgeonly cowboy get his comeuppance and find sweetness in a second chance.
Amanda Quick’s ’Til Death Do Us Part takes readers to Victorian London for a tale of romantic suspense. Calista Langley’s private introduction agency for lonely socialites arouses the suspicions of reclusive crime novelist Trent Hastings when he discovers his sister is using the service. Worried that Calista may be fleecing his sister, he decides to investigate. After their meeting, Trent becomes entangled in the frightening events threatening Calista’s life, and the signs point toward a stalker. Who is sending her memento mori carved with her initials? Why has Calista’s now-married ex-suitor begun calling again? And are either of these people involved in recent London murders? Both Calista and Trent enjoy the other as a sleuthing partner, but they grow closer romantically as the mystery evolves. Still, they are both wary, and it will take risking their lives for them to determine whether they are ready to risk love. Atmospheric and sometimes downright creepy, this is a dark romp of a read with clever dialogue and appealing protagonists.
TOP PICK IN ROMANCE
Mary Balogh’s final book in her Survivors’ Club series, Only Beloved, begins quietly but builds with emotional intensity. The long-widowed Duke of Stanbrook considers remarriage an antidote to loneliness, and when he approaches spinster Dora Debbins about a union based on pleasant companionship—he believes they are beyond youthful passions—she agrees. Marrying the kind and handsome aristocrat offers Dora a new lease on life that she didn’t expect at 39. They seem well suited for each other, and their shared life satisfies them—both in and out of bedroom, to their surprise and delight. But when a threat shadows their golden days, they begin to see that their partnership is more precious than expected. This is a story of two people coming to recognize love’s blossoming, and the results strike a deep chord. Balogh has written an engrossing and lovely end to her beloved series.