A look at what’s steaming up the shelves this month.
I think I’m more excited about spring this year than I’ve been before. Maybe it’s the fact that, after a year of pandemic isolation, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Or maybe it’s because I’ve been anticipating spring book releases since before Thanksgiving. Whatever the reason, I cannot wait for spring! Here are two novels that have helped me while away these last cold days of winter.
Elizabeth Everett’s A Lady’s Formula for Love (Berkley) is a delightful historical romp with a decidedly feminist twist.
The setting is London, 1842, and widowed viscountess Violet Hughes runs Athena’s Retreat, a secret social club for women scientists. They are preparing to put on a public exhibition when Violet is hired by the British government to develop an antidote to a new chemical weapon in the hands of a violent group of radicals. Her mission makes her a target for threats and sabotage, so her stepson, Grey, hires protection agent Arthur Kneland to watch over her while she’s working on the formula.
As a favor to Grey, Arthur takes on what he believes will be a simple job before he retires to the Highlands, but he discovers Violet has made some real enemies. He quickly becomes captivated by her brilliant, passionate mind and her enthusiasm for her work. Violet is a forward-thinking woman who is willing to indulges her physical attraction to her handsome protector, but there is more between this unusual pair than can be satisfied by a casual affair. Can the lady and the bodyguard find true love?
A Lady’s Formula for Love is the historical romance for readers who don’t think they like historical romance. Everett’s debut weaves a satisfying tale of love and mystery, with two likable characters who are a bit older and more experienced — they know what they want, and they’re going after it. Violet and Arthur complement each other perfectly, and their story is tender, smart, and passionate.
Beauty influencer Jia Ahmed is used to dealing with hateful comments and harsh judgments on social media. But with dedication, hard work, and handsome Bollywood actor Dev Dixit romancing her in her DMs, she feels like she can conquer the world. When Dev comes to L.A. for his big Hollywood debut, Jia decides it’s time to take things to the next level and meet him in person. There’s only one problem: He doesn’t know who she is.
Embarrassed to discover she’s been duped, Jia just wants to put the humiliating experience behind her. Unfortunately, when her traditional Desi family spots a candid photo of her with Dev, they decide to travel to L.A. to meet her new boyfriend. Jia concocts a plan to throw them off the embarrassing truth — that she’s been a victim of catphishing. But she needs Dev’s help to carry out the deception.
The paparazzi have caused similar issues for Dev with his own family, so he’s happy to go along with Jia’s plan. (It doesn’t hurt that he can’t stop thinking about her.) To get their families off their backs, they’ll need to spend some time together building a fake relationship. But in the process, they develop very real feelings for each other.
Behind Jia and Dev’s carefully cultivated public personas are two successful, ambitious people who understand and genuinely like each other. Rai has deftly crafted a fabulous #ownvoices romance that highlights the conflicts between traditional cultural values and contemporary lifestyles — and the very human need to connect.
Kristina Wright lives in Virginia with her husband, their two sons, two dogs, a cat, and a parrot. She’s the digital editor of Your Teen for Parents magazine and a regular contributor at BookBub. She’s also the author of The Big Book of Infectious Disease Trivia. Find her on Twitter at @kristinawright or on Bookshop, where she features other book recommendations.