In this month’s roundup of the best-reviewed BookLife titles, we highlight a detective story, a Victorian romance, a supernatural procedural, and more.

Damaged Goods: Erica Jensen Mystery #1

Debbi Mack

Synopsis: Former Marine and unofficial private investigator Erica Jensen’s latest job comes from an affluent real estate developer whose daughter has gone missing.

PW’s takeaway: Fans of flawed but empowered female sleuths will be pleased with this exceptional mix of character study and detective work.

Comparable title: Linda Barnes’s A Trouble of Fools

Sample line: “I’d miss the people here, my comrades in arms and the ones we’d served. Even men who had greeted the FET as skeptics were eventually won over by our ability to connect with the locals, gather intel, and watch the men’s backs. Despite everything, I actually felt we were a force for good.”

Fair as a Star

Mimi Matthews

Synopsis: Matthews spins a moving friends-to-lovers Victorian romance that stands out for its sensitive portrayal of a heroine living with depression at a time when the condition was misunderstood and maligned.

PW’s takeaway: Beryl’s strength and kindness shine even at her darkest moments, and Matthews does an admirable job of showing that, while Mark’s love cannot cure Beryl, it can help her become more courageous and self-aware.

Comparable title: Julia Quinn’s Romancing Mister Bridgerton

Sample line: “Her eyes were as sharp as a hunting hawk’s behind her wire-rimmed spectacles, forever scanning about for fresh morsels of tittle-tattle.”

Gray Hair, Don’t Care

Karen Booth

Synopsis: Newly divorced makeup artist Lela Bennett is dreading dating at age 47—until she starts sleeping with her sexy crush from college.

PW’s takeaway: Booth enriches the story with keen observations about aging, relationships, and pop culture.

Comparable title: Renée Carlino’s Swear on This Life

Breeda Looney Steps Forth

Oliver Sands

Synopsis: Breeda uncovers a family secret when she learns that her allegedly deceased father might actually still be alive.

PW’s takeaway: Sands effectively delves into denser themes of mental health and grief.

Comparable title: Sloane Tanen’s There’s a Word for That

Brimstone Bound

Helen Harper

Synopsis: In this urban fantasy, an aspiring detective is assigned to the London Police Department’s Supernatural Squad.

PW’s takeaway: Harper pairs the paranormal with humor and procedural elements brilliantly.

Comparable title: Kim Harrison’s Dead Witch Walking