A look at what's steaming up the shelves this month!
This month’s romance roundup features contemporary and paranormal romance and military romantic suspense. There are firefighters, soldiers, a librarian, a couple of entrepreneurs, an IT expert, an heiress, and more, proving that love is a universal need — and my taste in romance novels is eclectic.
Hurts to Love You (Avon) is the last book in Alisha Rai’s Forbidden Hearts series featuring the Kane and Chandler families, but it’s strong enough as a standalone for readers to dive into it even if they haven’t read the other books.
Evangeline Chandler was born into wealth, but she longs to make her own entrepreneurial mark in the world. Gabriel Hunter is a rough-around-the-edges older man who owns a tattoo studio and doesn’t get too close to any woman. He knows Eve is out of his league, but that doesn’t stop him from fantasizing about being with her.
Fate throws Eve and Gabe together long enough for them to discover that each is not what they seem to be. The sex is steamy, and the emotions are palpable as these star-crossed lovers reveal their secrets and their vulnerabilities to each other. Like the two previous books in the series, Rai gives her characters strong momentum to look past their differences and find a way to be together. Hurts to Love You nicely wraps up the stellar Forbidden Hearts series and gives fans a glimpse into the lives of the families they’ve come to know and love.
Sharon Wray’s debut novel, Every Deep Desire (Sourcebooks Casablanca), is an ambitious military romantic suspense with a Romeo and Juliet twist. Eight years ago, Green Beret Rafe “Romeo” Montfort went from decorated soldier to deserter and served time in both a Russian prison and Leavenworth. Walking away from his Green Beret team and his wife to join a band of ruthless mercenaries is a choice he wishes he never had to make.
Now he’s free and has been given an assignment that may mean life and death for the wife he abandoned. His job is to find a glass vial, contents unknown, somewhere in Savannah, Georgia. His wife, Juliet Capel, lost everything when Rafe walked away, but she’s rebuilt her life on her own terms, and Rafe’s return to Georgia throws her into a tailspin.
In a race against time, Rafe must locate the vial that has something to do with Juliet’s ancestors, save her life, and make amends. Every Deep Desire is the first installment in Wray’s Deadly Forces series, and the author packs a lot into this book. Things get a little convoluted with all that’s going on, but for readers who love their romance with a side of adventure and intrigue, the resolution is worth the bumpy ride.
When it comes to paranormal fiction, it takes something truly original to stand out, and Ashlyn Chase has written one of the more unusual shapeshifter romances to come along in a while. Hooked on a Phoenix (Sourcebooks Casablanca) is a catchy title, but it’s the characters’ relationships and the phoenix mythology that are most captivating in this fun, fast-paced romance.
Misty Carlisle is a Boston bank teller with chronic bad luck who finds herself falling hard when her brother’s friend, and her childhood crush, shows up in her life. Gabe Fierro is a hunky firefighter who also happens to be a phoenix, and he has promised to look after Misty, which turns out to be more than he bargained for. The chemistry between the two is instant and hot, but there are, of course, some plot twists that complicate their budding romance.
This is the first book in Chase’s Phoenix Brothers series, and it lays the groundwork for the other phoenix tales, with no shortage of hot firemen and humorous banter to keep the story moving along. Nicely written and unique, Hooked on a Phoenix is a light and entertaining romantic romp.
Heather Blackmore successfully takes on the world of venture capitalism in It’s Not a Date (Bold Strokes Books). Kadrienne Davenport is a type-A entrepreneur and investor who knows how to build a business and get the job done. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a clue how to fall in love and build a happy relationship that’s compatible with her devotion to her work. Kade meets Jennifer Spencer, the founder and CEO of a start-up eldercare company, and the two hit it off immediately despite their very different personalities.
What was meant to be a brief encounter turns into much more when Kade joins the board of Jen’s company and their romantic attraction proves to be irresistible as the two try to navigate their business relationship. Blackmore’s background in business makes the story believable and she deftly handles the serious issues Kade and Jen face in their personal and professional lives. It’s Not a Date is a delightful girl-meets-girl romance with a lot of depth and heart.
Priscilla Oliveras delivers a heartwarming love story in Her Perfect Affair (Zebra Shout), the second book in her Matched to Perfection series featuring the Fernandez family. Librarian Rosa Fernandez has long harbored romantic feelings for family friend and IT specialist Jeremy Taylor. The feeling is very much mutual, but her insecurities have always made her keep her emotional distance from him.
The usually restrained Rosa throws caution to the wind and puts her concerns aside long enough for the two to spend the night together before Jeremy leaves the country for several months. Despite being careful, Rosa is shocked when their night of passion results in an unplanned pregnancy. The pregnancy complicates things with her family and Jeremy, as well as threatens her job at the conservative Catholic school where she works.
Jeremy wants to do the right thing by Rosa and their baby, but first he must convince Rosa to let her guard down and let him in for more than one night. Oliveras beautifully balances the couple’s budding romance with cultural and class issues in Her Perfect Affair, crafting a love story that is both realistic and endearing.
Kristina Wright lives in Virginia with her husband, their two sons, a dog, two cats, and a parrot. Her work has appeared in a variety of places, including Mom.me, BookBub, the Washington Post, USA Today, Narratively, and Cosmopolitan. She loves reading, going to movies, baking bread, and planning family trips where everyone has fun and no one complains. Oh, and she really loves coffee. She’d love to know what you’re reading, so find her on Twitter at @kristinawright.