cover image Fish Out of Water

Fish Out of Water

Katie Ruggle. Sourcebooks Casablanca, $16.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-4926-6775-9

Ruggle (In Safe Hands) delivers a thoroughly enjoyable wilderness-set rom-com with a hint of danger. After makeover specialist Dahlia’s free-spirited sister, Rose, sends Dahlia a 911 text from a wilderness vacation and then stops responding, plucky Dahlia beelines it to Howling Falls, Colo., to find her. Tipped off that her sister may have been seen with grumpy mountain man Winston Dane (aka mystery author Dane Winters), she picks the locks on his formidable gates with a lip pencil, enters his property, and persuades him to help her find her sister. Did Rose simply get lost on a hike? Or is there a more sinister explanation? As Dahlia and Winston brave the wilderness, their explosive chemistry becomes apparent—and is made more intense by sharing a single sleeping bag. Ruggle gender-swaps the typical virgin trope (it’s Winston who has less experience) for some tender and scorching love scenes. The twist-filled mystery will draw readers in, and despite the danger, Ruggle mines Dahlia’s admittedly faulty “brain-to-mouth filter” for plenty of humor. Romance lovers will have no trouble rooting for this raunchy heroine and her strong, protective hero. Agent: Jessica Watterson, Sandra Dijkstra Literary. (Feb.)