Romance: Love on the range
A Wyoming rancher finds love in Always a Cowboy, part of Linda Lael Miller’s The Carsons of Mustang Creek series. Salt-of-the-earth Drake Carson runs the family ranch and enjoys his simple life. But it’s complicated when a beautiful graduate student researching wild horses arrives and upsets his routine. Luce Hale is thrilled to be observing the animals on the Carsons’ land and doesn’t run from the sparks that fly between her and Drake. A single kiss proves what they could have together, but even though they admit to being in love, obstacles stand in the way. Luce plans on returning to California, both of their families are meddling matchmakers, and then there are the rigors of ranch life to consider—including a mountain lion and a mare-stealing wild stallion. Though Luce loves the outdoors, she wonders if she’ll fit in with Drake’s way of life. But longing has a way of overcoming doubts, and readers will root for this appealing couple. The glimpses of ranch life and the extended Carson family make this a Western to remember.
FAIRY TALE FOREVER-AFTER
The first in Vanessa Kelly’s Improper Princesses series, My Fair Princess, stars a very proper duke and the wild young woman he’s promised to tame. Charles, the Duke of Leverton, takes his responsibilities seriously. When a distant relation asks for his help in educating her granddaughter—the illegitimate daughter of royalty—he finds himself assuring the woman he can familiarize the girl with English manners and customs and help her find a husband among Regency London’s social set. Gillian Dryden is not appreciative of the offer, however. Raised in Sicily, she’s unused to the mores of London’s constrained society and gets into trouble—despite Charles’ best attempts to curb her. But he doesn’t give up, and he begins to appreciate the challenge Gillian brings to his staid life. Certainly he desires the beauty, and as the feeling seems mutual, he begins to plan a future for them—if they can get past the impediments posed by a jealous ex, bloodthirsty bandits and their own wary hearts.
TOP PICK IN ROMANCE
Romance surprises a newly retired quarterback and a spunky P.I. in First Star I See Tonight, part of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Chicago Stars series. With his football career behind him, Cooper Graham has a plan to build a string of successful nightclubs, a plan that is diverted when a fledgling detective, Piper Dove, begins tailing him. A confrontation with the quirky beauty ends with her agreeing to work for him as security—a situation that both repels and delights them. Piper is desperate to make a go of her agency, so she’s willing to accept employment from the arrogant and annoying sports legend. Though they each try to deny their sizzling attraction and deflect it through insults and witty banter, the two become close as they fight a threat to the nightclub—or is it a threat to Cooper himself? With engaging characters and sparkling writing, this charmer deserves a front-and-center space on the keeper shelf.
This article was originally published in the September 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.