Romance Roundup: February 2023

A look at what’s steaming up the shelves this month.

Romance Roundup: February 2023

I blinked, and it’s February. I’m heading to the Happiest Place on Earth* next week and am having a tough time deciding which — and how many — books to bring. (I can’t be the only person who takes more books on vacation than I can possibly read, am I?) But before I pack my suitcase, here are two of the books I’ve enjoyed in the past month, both of which would make terrific vacation reads!

(*We all know my happiest place is the bookstore, right?)


A.J. Pine kicks off the Murphys of Meadow Valley series with Holding Out for a Cowboy (Sourcebooks Casablanca).

Twelve years ago, Meadow Valley, Nevada, high school sweethearts Casey Walsh and Boone Murphy had big dreams for their future. Unfortunately, an unexpected pregnancy, followed by a tragic loss, derailed their plans and tore their relationship apart. Now, Boone is a mechanic who’s about to get married and move away, while Casey is preparing to go back to school and finish her education. Then a fateful roadside reunion changes everything.

After Boone comes to Casey’s rescue, the two agree to make an effort to be friends again. They’ve had time to grow up and figure out what kind of life they want for themselves, but they still have unfinished business between them — and plenty of emotional baggage to sort out. The more time they spend together, the more they realize what they wanted back then is what they still want now. The only question is, can they put their painful past behind them and start fresh?

Casey and Boone are solid, likable characters trying to make good decisions. Despite their personal growth, they’ve never forgotten, or gotten over, their first love. Holding Out for a Cowboy is a tug-at-the-heartstrings, second-chance romance with a cast of secondary small-town characters readers will look forward to seeing again. This is a promising start to an exciting new series.


Exes & O’s (Berkley Romance) by Amy Lea is a disarming tale of a devoted romance reader whose actual love life hasn’t exactly been the stuff of fairytales.

Tara Chen is a nurse who knows everything there is to know about romance — novels, that is. In her spare time, Tara is a social-media influencer who shares her bookish obsession with her followers. Unfortunately, her real-life romantic relationships have all ended badly. Tara takes inspiration from her Grandma Flo, who has reconnected with an old boyfriend, and decides to revisit the romance graveyard of her past. Instead of looking for a new relationship, Tara decides, she’ll go back to her failed ones and try to find a second-chance romance with one of her exes.

Tara’s new roommate, firefighter Trevor Metcalfe, is baffled by her quest for love and commitment. Trevor has a revolving door on his bedroom and no interest in true romance, but when he gets sucked into Tara’s drama, he offers support and advice. A friendship quickly develops between the hopeless romantic and the commitment-phobe, catching them both off-guard and making them reconsider their bond.

There’s no question that Tara and Trevor will end up together, but how they get there is quite charming. Exes & O’s is the second book in Lea’s Influencer series, and it’s even sweeter and funnier than her debut, Set on You.

Kristina Wright lives in Virginia with her husband, their two sons, a dog, a cat, and a 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 other book recommendations.

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