A look at what’s steaming up the shelves this month.
April showers bring May flowers — and a bevy of new romance novels! Love is in the air in this month’s reviewed books, which feature high-school sweethearts and oil-industry rivals, tenderhearted dog rescuers and savvy entrepreneurs.
Love and Other Words (Gallery Books) by the pair of authors known as Christina Lauren is a love story told in the past and present. Macy Sorensen and Elliot Petropoulos met as teenagers at Macy’s father’s vacation home, bonding over common interests and falling for each other in that casual way of teenagers. Macy has lost her mother and is able to open up to Elliot like she can’t with anyone else.
But despite their bond, their relationship ended, and Elliot never understood why Macy wouldn’t forgive him. Now, Macy is a workaholic doctor living with her fiancé and planning her wedding. She hasn’t spoken to Elliot in years until a chance meeting brings them back together — and brings back all of the feelings they once had for each other.
Love and Other Words is a beautiful blend of women’s fiction and romance, with depth, heart, and plenty of passion. Fans of Christina Lauren’s steamy romances won’t be disappointed by this tender story of first love, mature love, and the people who change us in the best possible ways.
Sit, Stay, Love (Sourcebooks Casablanca) by Debbie Burns is the second book in the Rescue Me series, but can be read as a standalone. Kelsey Sutton’s work at a no-kill animal shelter leads her to start a rehabilitation facility for dogs who’ve been used for dog fighting. It’s challenging and rewarding work, but the real challenge for Kelsey is getting close to the standoffish dog handler hired to stay at the facility and work with the animals.
Kurt Crawford is a former Marine recovering from his own trauma, so he is more comfortable with the troubled dogs than with people — especially Kelsey. Their mutual dedication to the discarded, traumatized dogs leads to blossoming friendship that grows into something much more.
The relationships Kurt has with the abused canines in his charge makes him A+ hero material, and the dogs themselves are terrific secondary characters, bringing an added depth to this utterly charming romance. Dog lovers, especially, will fall in love with this sweet and heartwarming tale.
Business leads to pleasure in Strategic Seduction (Dafina) by Cheris Hodges. A college reunion brings Alicia Michaels and Richmond Crawford together, but neither of them has time to pursue their sizzling mutual attraction.
Alicia is focused on building her PR firm in Atlanta, while Richmond is determined to prove himself to his wealthy New York family with his hotel venture. The fact that Richmond is recently divorced, and Alicia has baggage from her own past relationship, makes romance a risky venture for the two hardworking entrepreneurs.
Hodges does a fantastic job of balancing the sexual tension between Alicia and Richmond with realistic emotional conflicts right up until the satisfying conclusion. An entertaining secondary cast of characters and the yummy Southern setting make Strategic Seduction an excellent investment.
Whiskey Sharp: Jagged (HQN) delivers the kind of emotionally complex characters that author Lauren Dane is best known for. Rachel Dolan’s FBI career was cut short by a traumatic event that left her physically and emotionally traumatized. She’s a tattoo artist now, rebuilding her life in Seattle and determined to do things on her own terms.
Victor Orlov is a talented baker with a big, happy family and a tender streak a mile wide. He’s been keeping an eye on Rachel, knowing he’d like more with her but also aware that he has to give her space and time to heal from her past.
The attraction is mutual, with Rachel counting on Vic’s friendship and support — and finding comfort among the Orlov family that she’s never found with her own parents — but she’s not sure she’s ready for the kind of serious commitment Vic is offering. Jagged is the second installment in the Whiskey Sharp series, following Unraveled, which featured Rachel’s sister, Maybe, and Vic’s cousin Alexsei.
The Last King (Forever) by Katee Robert takes on the Texas oil industry in this first book in The Kings series. Competitors Beckett King and Samara Mallick have a…complicated relationship. They should hate each other — and where business is involved, they do — but their sexual attraction is undeniable, and things get hot and heavy anytime they’re alone together.
Heir to an oil empire, Beckett has just lost his father and is assuming leadership of Morningstar Enterprises while also fending off the competition, his estranged aunt, Lydia King. Samara works for Beckett’s aunt and has worked hard to move up the ranks in the oil business, which only creates additional conflict between the two.
Amidst the business and family drama, Beckett and Samara fall hard for each other and take their lust to another, more emotional level. The Last King is a steamy, sexy, glitzy read and a terrific beginning to the series.
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, Narratively, Mental Floss, 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. She’d love to know what you’re reading, so find her on Twitter at @kristinawright.