A look at what’s steaming up the shelves this month.
Another year comes to a close, and I’m once again wowed by just how many fantastic books I read in the past 12 months. I’m also super excited to have a (too-big) TBR pile for the last few weeks of December. Now I just have to figure out how many books I realistically need for a couple of long flights. (Is four too many? It’s not, right?)
But whether I’m crammed into economy or crashing into bed after a full day of holiday festivities, there’s nothing I enjoy more than slipping into a good romance that weaves all my favorite elements into a happy-ever-after story. Here are two novels that have brought me good cheer so far this season.
Carlie Walker delivers a delightful holiday treat with The Takedown (Berkley).
CIA agent Sydney Swift has been recruited for an FBI mission that takes her back to her Grandma Ruby’s house for the holidays. Sydney’s younger sister, Calla, is about to marry into a mob family, and it’s up to Sydney to get the intel about an upcoming heist. She’s determined to do whatever’s necessary to take down her criminal soon-to-be in-laws before anyone gets hurt — especially Calla. But mixing her personal life with her professional life proves more challenging than Sydney anticipated.
Her mission is complicated by Nick, the friend and former bodyguard of her sister’s mobbed-up fiancé. Sydney is tasked with getting close to Nick so she can tap him for information. Creating a seductive persona is certainly in her wheelhouse, but Nick isn’t the meathead she expected, and the closer they get, the closer she wants to get. The attraction seems mutual, but Nick has his own secrets that he’s not ready to give up.
As Christmas approaches, Sydney is forced to face the family history that sent her running from home in the first place. Between holiday shenanigans and steamy stakeouts, she discovers that there’s more to Nick than meets the eye. A madcap romcom that includes plenty of small-town charm and a charmingly flatulent dog named Sweetie Pie, The Takedown is the perfect playful read to end the year.
A romance writer who’s never been in love finds everything she’s looking for in Erin La Rosa’s swoon-worthy Plot Twist (Canary Street Press).
Sophie Lyons had a successful debut romance novel, but she’s hit a brick wall with her second book. On a night out with her best friend, Poppy, Sophie tearfully blames her writer’s block on the fact that she’s never been in love — and a video of her drunken proclamation soon goes viral. Sophie’s landlord is Poppy’s brother, Dash Montrose, a former teen idol with the kind of social-media savvy Sophie needs. He reluctantly agrees to help her do damage control on her cringey confessional as Sophie sets out to track down her exes and ask them why things didn’t work out.
As a recovering alcoholic, Dash prefers to stay behind the scenes and out of the spotlight, despite his family’s attempts to get him to return to the screen. His creative outlet involves posting anonymous crafting videos — a hobby that has helped him maintain his sobriety. With enough personal and family drama between them to fill a book, Sophie and Dash have more in common than they realize. Working together sparks a mutual attraction they can’t resist, but love isn’t in the cards for these two. Or so they think.
With a pair of complicated, likable leads and plenty of emotional depth, Plot Twist will have readers cheering for Sophie and Dash’s happy ending.
Kristina Wright lives in Virginia with her husband, their two sons, two Goldendoodles, a ginger cat, and a green parrot. She’s a regular contributor at BookBub and a lifelong fan of romance fiction. Find her on Twitter at @kristinawright or on Bookshop, where she features her book recommendations.