Romance: Love in the shadows
A young aristocratic woman finds romance far away from the ballrooms of the nobility in Sarah MacLean’s Wicked and the Wallflower, the first book in her new Bareknuckle Bastards series. Devastated by the rejection of her former friends in society, Lady Felicity Faircloth makes a brash (and completely fabricated) announcement—she’s engaged to a mysterious duke who’s just come to town. Before the truth is revealed, a dark stranger promises Felicity that he can make her fib come true. Bastard-born crime lord Devil Culm wants to exact revenge on his titled half-brother. If that means involving and possibly ruining the intelligent and determined Lady Felicity, so be it. But this pair of opposites find each other fascinating, and soon they are verbally sparring and sharing sultry kisses. They agree a relationship between them can’t be, or at least can’t last—or can it? Watching a strong man fall for a witty and determined lady is one of the chief joys of the romance genre, and MacLean has created a dashing hero and deserving heroine that readers will remember far beyond the last page of this charming novel.
Steampunk technology, witches, fairy tales and shape shifters all come together in Kiss of the Spindle by Nancy Campbell Allen. Dr. Isla Cooper joins the passengers on board a private airship in order to reach the Caribbean, where she hopes to find the antidote for a curse that causes her to sleep like the dead every night. The airship is piloted by the attractive and roguish Captain Daniel Pickett, who is not above carrying out illegal activities under the nose of the dangerous government official aboard his ship. Allen’s extensive world building provides a view into an intriguing alternate universe, and readers will delight in following the author’s imagination into its heart. Isla and Daniel have full lives and believable motivations, and the humor provided by a very realistic automaton—yes, an automaton!—is a welcome touch. This kisses-only love story is an action-packed thrill ride, complete with a ticking clock sure to keep readers’ pulses racing.
TOP PICK IN ROMANCE
In Donna Kauffman’s Bluestone & Vine, small-town romance hits several sweet notes when a famous Irish folk singer travels to Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. After undergoing surgery, Pippa MacMillan retreats to Blue Hollow Falls to recuperate and let her voice heal. She stays with vintner Seth Brogan, who proves to be a wonderful host and also much too attractive. The pair acknowledges their palpable chemistry, but they’re not sure what could possibly come of it, so they try to go their separate ways. But small communities mean tight connections, and soon Pippa is invested in the lives of other townspeople—who in turn do their best to make a match of the wary pair. Readers will appreciate the wonderful sense of place, the well-rounded secondary characters and the deep emotion of this tender and sometimes tearful tale.
This article was originally published in the July 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.