A look at what’s steaming up the shelves this month
November means Thanksgiving in the U.S., and there is so much I’m grateful for this year — including all of the wonderful books I’ve read. This month, I’m reviewing four very different romance novels that would seem to have nothing in common.
But whether they feature firefighters or shapeshifters, take place in a small town or encompass the entire universe, each features a passion that transcends time and overcomes all obstacles. In every book, the love story is extraordinary and memorable.
Happy Thanksgiving to American readers, and happy reading to all!
Gena Showalter has been on my auto-buy list for years, so I was thrilled to learn she was introducing a new fantasy-romance series with Shadow and Ice (HQN). I wasn’t disappointed; the first book in the Gods of War series is everything I could’ve hoped for from a favorite author.
A dream trip to the Arctic Circle turns into a nightmare when Vale London and her foster sister become stranded without a guide. They stumble upon an ice cave of human-like creatures who have been frozen for over a thousand years. Representing several warring planets, the creatures are intent on battling until one warrior remains standing and takes Earth in the name of their leader. Knox of Iviland is among the newly thawed war gods, and he’s determined to win his fifth All War and secure his freedom.
This epic fantasy is filled with suspense and plenty of sizzling romance, as well as a good dose of humor. The relationship between Vale and Knox is slow to develop, but Knox’s cold demeanor eventually turns icy hot, and their love story is just the kind of out-of-this-world romance we’ve come to expect from Showalter. I’m looking forward to the rest of this series and learning the result of the All War and the future of the war gods.
Brenda Jackson’s new Catalina Cove contemporary-romance series is off to a terrific start with Love in Catalina Cove (HQN). Following the devastating outcome of a teen pregnancy, Vashti Alcindor put Catalina Cove in her rearview mirror 16 years ago. But when she inherits her aunt’s rundown bed and breakfast, she reluctantly returns to Louisiana to settle the estate. A traffic-stop encounter with the local sheriff, Sawyer Grisham, sparks an instant attraction between the two.
Sawyer is a widower and single father to a teenage daughter, and he proves to be the man Vashti needs when she decides to stay in Catalina Cove and restore the B&B. As Vashti builds a new life in her old hometown, she is forced to confront the details of her past, as well as her relationship with her parents, in order to recognize how her current choices are affected by her complicated history.
Jackson has created a multi-layered story about two vulnerable people who need each other and the second chance their relationship can offer. The large cast of secondary characters promises a long and engaging series, and the Louisiana setting makes for a beautiful backdrop in this heartwarming read.
J.R. Ward gives new meaning to the term “dark and gritty” in her emotionally compelling and aptly named Consumed (Gallery Books), the first book in her new Firefighters series. Growing up among firefighters, Anne Ashburn became one herself — until a blaze ended her career in the most devastating way. Tough as nails and determined to stay in the world she knows best, Anne becomes an arson investigator, but she doesn’t think it will ever fulfill her or give her the same adrenaline rush as firefighting.
Danny McGuire in the department’s hard-edged bad boy. He saved Anne from the fire that almost killed her and was injured in the process. Life is spiraling out of control for Danny, and he’s taking increasingly dangerous risks that are going to get him killed if he doesn’t overcome his demons. His relationship with Anne is tumultuous and complicated, but when she becomes the target of a murderous arsonist, he will do whatever it takes to help her.
A series of fires points to someone with ties to the department, and it will require all of Anne’s training to find the killer before she becomes a victim. J.R. Ward has created a gripping story that takes a deep dive into the lives of professional firefighters and shows us the dark side of that world where bravery, integrity, and commitment are crucial for survival.
Healer’s Need (Carina Press) is the second book in Rhenna Morgan’s Ancient Ink series and features fated mates Tate Allen and Elise Ralston. Tate is a coyote shapeshifter who patiently watches over and protects his future mate, Elise. She hasn’t shifted yet and doesn’t know what lies in store, so Tate serves as a mentor and guide for all the ways her life is about to change.
The new world Elise is entering is intimidating but exciting. She is destined to become a powerful healer and is ready to embrace her role, but it will take time to develop her magic — and time may be the one thing she doesn’t have. Tate’s clan is being stalked by an outsider, and Elise’s latent talents make her a target.
Tate and Elise’s intimate relationship builds at a slow, sensual pace that strikes the perfect note. Tate is a swoon-worthy hero who stands out in the shifter genre for his quiet wisdom and willingness to wait for Elise to be ready to join his world. Healer’s Need can be read as a standalone, but much of the world-building for the series happens in the first book, Guardian’s Bond, so it’s worth reading that one to become immersed in the author’s creation.
Kristina Wright lives in Virginia with her husband, their two sons, a dog, a cat, and a parrot. Her work has appeared in a variety of places, including the Washington Post, USA Today, BookBub, Simplemost, and more. Find her on Twitter at @kristinawright and tell her what you’re reading this fall!