A look at what’s steaming up the shelves this month.
Summer lovin’, it happened so fast…
Summer is upon us, and this month’s roundup includes some steamy romantic suspense and heartening contemporary romance. I admit, I love stories that combine danger and passion, but I enjoy a charming small-town romance, too. For June, I’m highlighting the first books in three new series, as well as a new romantic suspense novel by the queen of romance and a wonderful romance/women’s fiction novel that I can’t stop talking about.
Shelter in Place (St. Martin's Press) by Nora Roberts addresses the after-effects of a mass shooting on the survivors and how they get on with their lives in the wake of an unspeakable tragedy.
Simone Knox and Reed Quartermaine were at the site of a mass shooting at a mall in Portland, Maine. In the aftermath of horrific violence, they each chose a different path. Simone is determined to make the world a better place through her art, while Reed has pursued a career in law enforcement.
Reed begins to suspect someone is deliberately targeting the survivors of the Portland shooting — and he’s certain that’s the case when the killer comes after him. Healing from his wounds, Reed visits Tranquility Island, the setting for many of the happiest days of his childhood. Though Reed and Simone didn’t know each other at the time of the tragedy, fate brings them together when Reed accepts a job as the police chief of the quaint island town.
Surviving a tragedy gives Simone and Reed a deeper understanding of each other and strengthens their growing bond as they realize a serial killer is stalking them. Shelter in Place is Roberts at her very best, and she hits all the right notes in this story that feels ripped from the headlines, weaving nail-biting suspense with poignant romance, small-town charm, and a hint of magic into a story that satisfies on every level.
Then There Was You (Forever) is the delightful first book in Miranda Liasson’s new Angel Falls series.
After being jilted just days before her wedding, Dr. Sara Langdon left her hometown of Angel Falls, Ohio, with no intentions of ever looking back. But she’s returned a year later to help her family care for her beloved grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s disease. She decides to join her father’s medical practice until she figures out what to do with her life. But while working at the local ER, she runs into Colton Walker — a man she’d hoped never to see again.
Colton was once a teenage bad boy, but he’s grown up to become the police chief of Angel Falls. He’s always had a crush on Sara, but their history is full of conflict and clashes, which isn’t helped by the fact that Sara holds him responsible for her wedding being called off.
But as their paths keep crossing, Sara can’t help but notice he’s not the boy he once was — or the villain she’s imagined him to be. In fact, he’s grown into a thoughtful, reliable guy who seems to really care about her.
When Sara’s ex-fiancé returns, things get even more complicated as she tries to sort out what she wants in life. With appealing secondary characters and a lovely town as a backdrop, Then There Was You is a heartwarming romance perfect for summer. I look forward to revisiting the residents of Angel Falls soon!
In the genre of romantic suspense, I Am Justice (Sourecbooks Casablanca) is an original, impressive debut. It’s also the first book in Diana Muñoz Stewart’s new high-octane Band of Sisters series.
Justice Parrish thrives on vengeance. Saved from a life on the streets, she has dedicated herself to taking down anyone who preys on the weak. She’s a member of a secret society of vigilante women whose missions put them in the path of incredible danger — and there is no place Justice would rather be.
A former Special Forces soldier, Sandesh Ross knows what it means to live life on the edge. He walked away from the violence to join a humanitarian group that works in impoverished, war-torn countries. He craves a peaceful life now, which is at odds with everything Justice represents. They have very different ideas about how to right the wrongs of the world, and their methods and beliefs are in serious conflict even as their physical attraction is off the charts. Can they reconcile their differences and forge a relationship built on trust and understanding?
The world needs more warrior-women stories, and Muñoz Stewart delivers a rollicking good ride with I Am Justice. Sizzling with sensuality and protagonists we care about, it’s a promising beginning to an exciting new series.
How to Walk Away (St. Martin's Press) by Katherine Center straddles the line between romance and women’s fiction, but whatever you call it, it’s a tender, bittersweet story of resilience and connection that has genuinely laugh-out-loud moments. Oh, and did I mention there is a very hot Scottish physical therapist, too?
Margaret Jacobsen is newly engaged and has landed her dream job. She’s on top of the world — until that world comes crashing down around her. A plane crash leaves her broken in both body and spirit, and her fiancé, Chip, who piloted the plane, can’t cope with her injuries or the potential for a long, grueling recovery. Maggie’s life has veered so far off course that she has no idea how to proceed.
Enter Ian, Maggie’s tough physical therapist. He demands more of her than she thinks she’s capable of giving, but he knows the only way to recover is to keep fighting. Ian has his own tragic past, and the bond between him and Maggie grows into something much more. Their relationship is a pleasure to read about, as is Maggie’s renewed relationship with her long-absent sister, especially in contrast to Maggie’s relationship with Chip.
At turns heart-wrenching and funny, How to Walk Away is the kind of story that feels so real you forget these are fictional characters. This is one of my favorite novels so far this year!
Dead Girl Running (HQN) is the first book in Christina Dodd’s new Cape Charade series.
Kellen Adams has no memory of a year of her life. She escaped an abusive husband, became a strong, efficient Army officer, reinvented her identity, and built a life for herself on her own terms — but she has no idea what happened during that fateful year. She only knows she has the scar from a bullet wound and that she needs to keep running.
Now an assistant manager at a resort in the Pacific Northwest, she is left in charge while the owners take an off-season vacation. Kellen’s new life is promptly thrown into turmoil when she discovers a dead body on the property. Signs point to an international smuggling ring having set up shop in the coastal Washington town. Everyone at the resort is a suspect now, and Maximilian Di Luca, a relative of the owners, arrives to help Kellen sort out the situation. Max makes her nervous, and she’s not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.
Kellen’s past and present are colliding in a dangerous way, and she doesn’t know whom she can trust. Though the book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, Dodd brings in characters from previous books, which makes Dead Girl Running even more appealing for her fans. New readers will find this first Cape Charade book to be an excellent introduction to Dodd’s clever, twisty, romantic plots.
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 the Washington Post, USA Today, Upworthy, Narratively, and more. In the summer, she loves spending the afternoon on the deck with a glass of strawberry lemonade and a good book (or two). She’d love to know what you’re reading, so find her on Twitter at @kristinawright.