A look at what's steaming up the shelves this month.
Happy September! The kids are back in school and I’m ready for fall, even if it is 90 degrees today! This month, I’m highlighting the first books in four terrific new romance series. The best part about a series is having another book to look forward to and getting to know the secondary characters, while revisiting main characters from previous books. These are four series I’ll definitely be following!
All the Way (William Morrow Paperbacks), the first book in Kristen Proby’s Romancing Manhattan series, is the kind of romance that makes you just want to spend a luxurious weekend reading in bed. London Watson is a Tony Award-winning actress who escapes to Martha’s Vineyard to recover from the emotional and physical trauma of a fire. The fire not only killed her parents, it also left her injured and damaged her career. On the island, she runs into Finn Cavanaugh, the successful and handsome attorney who managed the reading of her parents’ will.
Finn has his own issues to deal with, including his troubled niece Gabby, who has joined him on Martha’s Vineyard. London hits it off with the theater-obsessed Gabby, and Finn finds himself even more attracted to the actress. Sparks fly pretty quickly between the two — which is believable under the idyllic island circumstances — and their connection seems meant to be. At least, until they return to New York and new obstacles threaten their budding romance.
It’s easy to root for London and Finn’s happiness, even when they clearly have communication issues. But their conflicts are realistic and don’t lead to excessive drama, which makes for a sexy, playful romance. All the Way is a charming character-driven novel and a terrific introduction to Proby’s writing.
In One Wedding, Two Brides (CreateSpace), author Heidi Betts takes the marriage-of-convenience romance trope and turns it into a rollicking good time. When Monica Blair finds out her fiancé, Matt, is marrying someone else, she does what any jilted bride would do — she plots her revenge. Of course, most jilted brides wouldn’t actually see their plan through. Motivated by liquid courage, Monica proposes marriage to the new bride’s hunky brother, Ryder Nash.
Ryder goes along with Monica’s plans for the sake of the money she’s promised him. The sexy rancher is in dire financial straits and he could really use the $50K Monica has promised him in exchange for his role in her scheme. Only, she doesn’t have the money; Matt does. In the name of getting back at Matt (and getting the funds to pay off her partner-in-matrimony), she convinces Ryder to stay married and go along with her plan.
One Wedding, Two Brides is the first in Betts’ Fairy Tale Brides series and it’s a charming little romance that’s laugh-out-loud funny at times. Ryder is Prince Charming in a Stetson, and his chemistry with Monica makes her hair-brained scheme worth the ride.
Jamie McGuire’s poignant From Here to You (Forever) also has a bride — but she’s the one running away from marriage in this romantic tearjerker. Darby Dixon hasn’t always made the best decisions, but a shocking revelation convinces her she can’t stay in Texas and marry her abusive fiancé.
She runs to Colorado to start a new life and meets a man she can’t resist. The problem is, he’s closed off and secretive, which raises a red flag for the once-burned-twice-shy Darby.
Scott “Trex” Trexler is a Marine who has seen, and done, it all. He’s back in Colorado with a highly classified job he can’t talk about, but he knows his attraction to Darby is meant to be. Darby wants to be able to count on Trex, but she needs to know who he really is before she can trust him.
McGuire has a knack for crafting flawed but believable and likable characters. With obstacles in their way, Darby and Trex have a lot to overcome to get their chance at love, and McGuire weaves the subplots in nicely. The secondary characters are memorable, as well, making From Here to You a promising beginning to the Crash and Burn series.
London’s Wicked Affair (Zebra Shout) by Anabelle Bryant is a delicious Regency romance and the first book in the Midnight Secrets series. Amelia Strathmore is a headstrong young woman who longs for a taste of freedom, while Lunden Beck is a duke with a troubled past who is honor-bound to find her a suitable husband. The two make an unusual pair, bringing out the best in each other even while they resolve their own personal issues.
Amelia accepts that she is bound to society’s rules and expectations, but she is determined to experience a sense of the adventure and autonomy that men are allowed. She enlists Lunden in her plans and, though he still carries the weight of his past, Amelia’s independent nature and strong-willed determination are just what he needs in his rather lonely life. He’s a fascinating character who shines in Amelia’s presence and proves himself to be all the adventure she could dream of.
Bryant’s secondary characters invite speculation about how their stories will evolve in subsequent books, especially those who haven’t endeared themselves to the reader this time around. But Amelia and Lunden’s romance is swoon-worthy, and London’s Wicked Affair is a lovely addition to the Regency romance genre.
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, Upworthy, Narratively, and more. Find her on Twitter at @kristinawright and tell her what you’re looking forward to reading this fall!