Romance Roundup: March 2018
- Kristina Wright
- March 9, 2018
Enjoy the inaugural installment of our new monthly feature!
Fans of romance already know this, but there really is something for everyone in the genre. From debut authors to legends in romance fiction, this month’s column includes a mix of contemporary and historical romance.
Love is in the air, and I invite you to take a look at some of the romance novels that are on the shelves now.
Julia Sonneborn’s debut, By the Book, is a clever retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion set in contemporary academia. Anne Corey is an absent-minded English professor chasing tenure at Fairfax College. She’s always running late and is a little (sometimes a lot) scattered, but she has a passion for women’s literature and is good at her job. When she learns that her former fiancé, Adam Martinez, is the college’s new president — and her new boss — her life takes an unexpected turn.
Then bad-boy writer-in-residence Rick Chasen arrives on the scene, complicating her life even further as she tries to sort out the past and her feelings for Adam. The plot lags in places, but with fully drawn characters and quirky humor, Sonneborn’s update of Persuasion is well done, and the story is engaging whether you’re familiar with Austen or not.
Legendary author Beverly Jenkins is back with Tempest, the third book in her Old West series. Wyoming Territory physician Dr. Colton Lee is a widower who needs a mother for his daughter, Anna. He gets more than he bargained for in Regan Carmichael, his mail-order bride from the Arizona Territory.
Regan is a strong, capable woman looking for adventure and willing to fight (or shoot) for what she wants — and she wants a real marriage with Colt. Colt is taken aback by her forward behavior but finds himself falling in love with her as they discover what it means to have a marriage built on equality and trust.
Tempest is a well-researched and nuanced portrayal of African-American protagonists in 19th-century frontier America. Jenkins breathes fresh air into the mail-order-bride theme with an entertaining and well-developed cast of secondary characters, including the town of Paradise, which is a character unto itself. Fans of Western historical romance will find a lot to love in Tempest, and it can be read as a standalone from the other books in the series.
A married couple who thought they knew everything about each other discover they still have a few things to learn in Sophie Kinsella’s Surprise Me. Sylvie and Dan are both 32 years old and have been together for 10 years, married for seven, and have two beautiful daughters. When a doctor estimates that they each might live to be 100, the possibility of such a long time together leads them to start Project Surprise Me.
Surprise Me is filled with Kinsella’s trademark eccentric characters, and there is plenty of humor, but it also has a serious side that explores marriage from the inside and all the baggage a couple must carry as Sylvie discovers a family secret that changes everything she thought she knew. Established relationships aren’t often portrayed in romance fiction, so Kinsella’s take delivers a refreshing dose of realism in a tale that shows what happily-ever-after looks like a decade on.
Julia London has a knack for crafting sexy kilted heroes, and she delivers in Devil in Tartan. Desperate times call for desperate measures when Lottie Livingstone and her father concoct a perilous plan to save their home by selling their illegal whiskey in Denmark.
When their ship is attacked and sinking, Lottie seizes the vessel of Scottish captain Aulay Mackenzie and takes him captive, intent on seeing her plan through, whatever it might take. But Aulay has his own plans, and they do not include being held captive by a woman. A battle of wills commences that pits the Scotsman against Lottie and her family, with each standing to lose everything that matters most.
The tropes are familiar, but London delivers a satisfying historical romance on the high seas with a dash of danger, a dose of humor, and enough passion to make you blush. Devil in Tartan is the fourth installment in London’s Highland Grooms series, but it can be read as a standalone.
Alyssa Cole turns some of the most popular genre tropes into a dizzying whirlwind of spins and swings with her rollercoaster of a romantic ride, A Princess in Theory.
With a series title like Reluctant Royals, you’d expect there to be a handsome prince — and there is. His name is Prince Thabiso of the African country of Thesolo, and he has arrived in New York to reunite with his long-lost betrothed and bring her back home.
Naledi is an epidemiology grad student with a busy, chaotic life. She’s a former foster kid with trust issues who puts her faith in science and thinks the emails claiming she’s affianced to an African prince are a scam. She has no memory of Thabiso or her time in Thesolo and mistakenly thinks Thabiso is an inept new waiter, which leads to conflict when he reveals the truth.
With touches of humor and terrific world-building of the fictional country of Thesolo, Princess in Theory is a nuanced and entertaining fairytale, and Cole does a terrific job of bringing these two very different characters together.
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, Cosmopolitan, and more. 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. You can find her at the nearest coffeeshop or on Twitter at @kristinawright.