Romance Roundup: October 2018
- October 5, 2018
A look at what’s steaming up the shelves this month.
I love October! The trees are aflame with color, the evenings are crisp and cool, I get to sleep under flannel sheets again, and my husband and I celebrate our wedding anniversary. We’ve been married a long time, but he’s still my hero in every way, and I know that no matter what comes, he always has my back.
This month, I’m reviewing three new romances with to-sigh-for heroes just like the one I married. I can think of no better way to spend the cool fall days than by falling in love all over again — in real life and on the page. Happy reading!
Hidden (Zebra) is the first book in Rebecca Zanetti’s Deep Ops series and one of my favorite romantic-suspense novels this year.
Malcolm West is a former undercover police officer recovering from a brutal assignment. He has retreated to a rural town where he can recuperate and get his life back on track.
He barely has a chance to catch his breath, though, before he’s recruited for a new secret government team to investigate a dangerous cult — one that his reclusive neighbor used to belong to. There’s something about Pippa he can’t resist, but he’ll have to get past her defenses if he wants to get to know her.
Pippa is on the run. Having a cop living next door complicates things for her, especially since he seems to be watching her every move. Who she is hiding out from, and why, are secrets she can’t share with her sexy neighbor — no matter how protective and concerned he might seem to be. The attraction between them is mutual and intense, but their budding relationship is threatened by her disturbing past.
The nail-biting plot zips along at a pretty good clip, with moments of lighthearted humor and interesting secondary characters we’ll see again in their own books. Hidden strikes just the right balance between suspense and romance with flawed, believable characters trying to do the right thing. Zanetti has written a winner, and Hidden sets the stage for a very promising series.
Cowboy Charm School (Sourcebooks Casablanca) by Margaret Brownley is an utterly charming historical-Western romance and the first book in the aptly named Haywire Brides series.
When a case of mistaken identity leads Texas Ranger Brett Tucker to shoot up the church where Kate Denver is about to be married, he does more than cause a ruckus — he causes a breakup. Kate wants nothing to do with marriage after the groom-to-be launches into a jealous tirade. The truth is, while she’s known Frank for a long time and their friendship means a lot to her, Kate isn’t really in love with him.
Feeling bad about his role in ruining the wedding, Brett takes it upon himself to try to fix Kate and Frank’s relationship by coaching Frank in how to get the lady back. Brett is only trying to help, but focusing all of his attention on Kate makes Kate realize that maybe there’s more to life than settling for your childhood friend.
Because this is essentially the tale of a love triangle — with Frank trying to woo Kate back while Kate is falling for Brett and Brett is trying to resist his feelings for Kate in order to help Frank — Kate and Brett’s relationship develops slowly and realistically. Brett really shines as the handsome, kind-hearted hero who wants only the best for the heroine.
Brownley has crafted a gem of an original story with a lot of humor and all the quirky secondary characters you’d expect in a western town. The romance is surprisingly steamy, probably because our couple has had to wait and wait to be together; the anticipation makes their story all the more appealing.
Brownley also does a terrific job making sure the jilted groom is likable when it would’ve been easy to paint him as a villain. I hope we get to see his story later in the series, because he certainly deserves to find love! Cowboy Charm School is a delightful surprise in a subgenre full of good stories.
Trouble Brewing (Gallery Books) by Suzanne Baltsar is a deliciously crisp and frothy story about a young woman pursuing her dream as a craft-brew master. Piper Williams is a smart, ambitious woman in the male-dominated business of craft-beer brewing. But she can hold her own in a room full of men and fully intends to make her mark on the industry.
Blake Reed owns a gastropub and agrees to stock Piper’s beer. The attraction between brewer and vendor is immediate, but Piper has no intentions of mixing business with pleasure and undercutting her reputation in the boys’ club of the brewing community. Blake’s family has issues with his business and wants him to focus on supporting his father’s political campaign. In the process of pursuing their own dreams, Piper and Blake fall for each other.
The back and forth between the couple is entertaining as Piper tries to keep her eye on the prize. As business-minded as she is, she can’t resist Blake’s charming personality. Conflicts arise, and things come to a head when an opportunity for Piper’s company throws a wrench in the romance. These spirited entrepreneurs are just too good together to fail, but how they get to happy-ever-after is part of the fun of the book.
Baltsar’s debut novel is an entertaining and quirky read. The Minnesota setting, along with the craft-beer details, makes Trouble Brewing a one-of-a-kind romance perfect for a fall weekend (accompanied by a local craft beer, of course!).
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!