A look at what’s steaming up the shelves this month
If March is here, can spring be far behind? I’m more than happy to put the frigid weather behind me, even if I’m not quite ready to give up my lazy weekends reading by the fire!
In the past few weeks, I’ve read a few outstanding novels in three subgenres of romance: historical, contemporary, and science fiction. Each of these romantic stories — past, present, and future — represents the best of its genre, with heroines who are fully capable of taking care of themselves falling for heroes who complement them in the best possible ways. From aristocratic London to distant galaxies, these are the stories that swept me away this month.
Marie Force makes her historical debut with Duchess by Deception (Zebra), the first book in her Gilded series. With dozens of contemporary romances to her credit, I was delighted to see this prolific author has a talent for crafting historical romance, as well!
Derek Eagan, the Duke of Westwood, must marry by his 30th birthday in order to retain his title. Bored with the young women eager to become his bride, he escapes to his country home to sort out his future. He thinks he may have found the woman of his dreams when he encounters a beautiful young lady suspiciously digging around on the property.
Catherine McCabe is on the duke’s estate hunting for a treasure that could liberate her from her arranged marriage to a much older viscount. Learning of Catherine’s distaste for the aristocracy, Derek decides to keep his identity a secret until he can get to know her better. With his birthday looming and her unwanted fiancé on her trail, the only answer seems to be a whirlwind wedding. But when Catherine discovers Derek’s deception, his secret threatens to destroy their future before it’s even begun.
Derek is an appealing, humble hero who is a perfect match for free-spirited Catherine. After the disastrous reveal of Derek’s lies and the other obstacles presented by secondary characters, the smitten pair has to learn to trust and accept each other — flaws, baggage, and all. Duchess by Deception has all the hallmarks of a satisfying Regency romance, and Force’s Gilded series is off to a charming start!
Gentleman Sinner (Forever) by Jodi Ellen Malpas is a compelling contemporary romance with a memorable alpha hero. The story features two damaged characters who need each other to heal — giving it a bit of a Beauty and the Beast feel that is poignant and sexy.
Izzy White is focused on her nursing career and building a happier life for herself despite a disturbing past. When she discovers an injured woman on her way home from the hospital where she works, her act of kindness has repercussions she isn’t prepared for.
Theo Kane arrives on the scene to resolve the situation, and their connection is immediate and intense. Everyone else seems to see him as dangerous and intimidating, but he demonstrates a more sensitive side to Izzy that draws her to him. His aversion to touch suggests he has his own dark history, leaving Izzy all the more intrigued by this enigmatic man.
Izzy and Theo are perfect together — two halves of a whole. They are each strong and determined, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to be loved for who they are. They complete each other in a way neither ever expected, and their love scenes are scorching hot and heartachingly tender.
Malpas writes some of the most emotionally compelling contemporary romances around, and Gentleman Sinner is no exception. This delicious standalone story is one of my favorite reads this season!
Jessie Mihalik’s debut novel, Polaris Rising (Harper Voyager), is described as a “sexy space opera adventure,” and I’m happy to say that it satisfies on all counts!
As the fifth daughter in one of the three powerful ruling High Houses, Ada von Hasenberg’s familial duties have been pre-ordained. But Ada isn’t keen on being a political pawn sacrificed to an arranged marriage, so she went on the run two years ago.
Captured by bounty hunters, Ada crosses paths with Marcus Loch, one of the most notorious criminals in the galaxy. The two become wary partners when she convinces Loch to help her escape. Loch is an intriguing hero with a lot of baggage and a soft spot for Ada. They’re both wanted fugitives who have to learn to trust each other. And when Ada is given an opportunity to save Loch, it shows they’re well-matched in all ways.
Ada is the space princess we can cheer for. She’s tough, smart, well-trained, and clever — she’d make Carrie Fisher proud. She knows she can’t do everything on her own, and she isn’t so stubborn as to try. The secondary characters are memorable, particularly Ada’s siblings and the team of old and new friends she assembles along the way.
Polaris Rising is pure science-fiction fun with terrific world-building, political intrigue, and steamy romance that leaves the reader wanting more. Which is great, because this is the first book in Mihalik’s trilogy of space adventures!
Kristina Wright lives in Virginia with her husband, their two sons, a dog, a cat, and a parrot. She’s the digital editorial manager of Your Teen Magazine and a regular contributor to BookBub. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post, USA Today, Cosmopolitan, and more. Find her on Twitter at @kristinawright and tell her what you’re reading!