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Romance: Heroes of the heart
Whether you’re spending your Valentine’s Day with your significant other or a glass of wine, sometimes you just need a fictional hero to fall in love with. These five new romance novels are here to fulfill that need, just in time for you to find a one-of-a-kind Valentine.
The mating game is a romantic’s delight in My American Duchess by Eloisa James. After two failed engagements, Boston heiress Merry Pelford heads to London with her chaperones to find a titled British bridegroom. She thinks she’s found the perfect match in Lord Cedric Allardyce and agrees to become his wife—only to meet Cedric’s very attractive twin, the Duke of Trent, minutes later. In an instant, sparks fly between the two, but there’s no future for the newly acquainted pair. Merry’s betrothal to Trent’s brother is the most obvious hurdle, but breaking off yet another engagement will also ruin Merry in the eyes of society—and put a marriage to a nobleman out of reach. Still, passion escalates each time they’re together, even though both agree that love is an undesirable, fickle state—and unnecessary in a marriage. However, Merry and the duke are beginning to wonder if these convictions are true. Filled with winning characters and witty repartee, this Georgian historical is a treat.
LOVE ON THE RANGE
It’s love, Western style, in Rustler’s Moon, the second in Jodi Thomas’ Ransom Canyon series. When museum curator Angela Harold’s father unexpectedly dies, she heeds the warning he left behind and departs Florida without informing family and friends. She heads for the small town of Crossroads, Texas, and gets a job running the Ransom Canyon Museum. Not long after, she meets Wilkes Wagner of Devil’s Fork Ranch and immediately decides that the tall, handsome man is out of her league. Yet in this insulated community, she keeps encountering the rancher—and trouble. She suspects that someone connected to her nefarious uncle in Florida is out to do her harm, though she has no idea why. Wilkes wants to protect the quiet, pretty newcomer and acknowledges the pull he feels toward her, but after having his heart broken once before, he’s reluctant to give it away again. Still, trust between the two grows, as does something deeper. To build a life for two, however, they must neutralize the danger stalking them. A large cast of characters and multiple mysteries make this action-packed story an engaging page-turner.
SHOT IN THE DARK
Childhood buddies reconnect to investigate a murder in the Christian romantic suspense novel Cold Shot, the first book in Dani Pettrey’s Chesapeake Valor series. When bones are discovered in a Pennsylvania park, Ranger Griffin McCray teams up with old friends—a federal agent and a crime scene investigator—along with a lovely forensic anthropologist, Dr. Finley Scott, to identify the victim and find the killer. As their investigation draws danger their way, both Griffin and Finley struggle with past experiences and doubts, looking to their faith to find the strength to continue as well as to heal old wounds. As they move closer to the truth, they learn to trust each other with their fears and feelings, realizing that they might have found true love—if they can avoid a sniper’s bullet. An intricate plot, a reunion of friends and an appealing lead couple make this a standout.
HEARTS AT RISK
A Regency miss takes on an earl with a reputation in The Art of Taming a Rake, the fourth in Nicole Jordan’s Legendary Lovers series. Venetia Stratham, who caused a scandal when she left her philandering fiance at the altar, returns from Parisian exile to confront Quinn Wilde, the Earl of Traherne, at a notorious London sin club. Seeing him surrounded by adoring females confirms her fears—the man is not deserving of Venetia’s beloved younger sister. But when Venetia confronts him, Quinn claims he’s not interested in making her sister his bride, and he has another purpose altogether for being at the bordello. Which is true: Quinn is seeking information about a family heirloom thought to have been lost in a shipwreck when he was a child, and it’s this quest that puts both of them in jeopardy. As they seek out answers, they put their lives at stake—and their hearts. Venetia and Quinn are reluctant lovers, and there’s fun in watching their inevitable fall into love. Both sensuous and emotional, this story is a true pleasure.
TOP PICK IN ROMANCE
The romance feels real in Virginia Kantra’s fifth Dare Island novel, Carolina Dreaming. Bakeshop owner and single mother Jane Clark is not looking for a man—her last relationship was disastrous and dangerous. But then sexy former Marine Gabe Murphy shows up on Dare Island. He comes into her bakery for coffee and sweets and catches Jane’s eye, but she tells herself he’ll never capture her heart. Gabe knows a distrusting woman when he sees one, but that doesn’t stop him from wanting to win her over. Although Gabe is at a low point in his life, Jane and her young son inspire him to build a brighter future. Their painful pasts and present fears are obstacles to a Jane-and-Gabe forever, but these two tackle their concerns with good sense and big hearts. Readers will root for the couple and be charmed by their tender and sexy story. This is a top-notch contemporary romance that epitomizes the appeal of the genre.