Everyone has moments of wanting to turn back time, undo some terrible wrong, and get a second chance. We don’t often get to indulge that longing in real life, but romance readers will get to enjoy a great many vicarious second chances this spring, with widowed and divorced men and women, single parents, old friends, and estranged lovers all getting opportunities to move on from the sorrowful past and build wonderful new lives.
Shared experiences of loss often bring lovers together. In Christie Ridgway’s Bungalow Nights, an injured combat medic keeps a promise to take care of his buddy’s daughter—who turns out to be a grown woman. Soon the two are drawn together by an irresistible attraction. In Luanne Rice’s The Lemon Orchard, a mother grieving the death of her daughter house-sits for her aunt and uncle in Malibu and develops an unexpected connection with their gardener, whose own daughter was lost and never found. These couples develop a deep understanding of each other’s pain, and that closeness can easily lead to romance.
The end of a marriage or death of a spouse can be the hardest thing in the world—or a gateway to freedom. It’s definitely the latter in Jane Ashford’s Once Again a Bride, in which an abusive husband’s demise allows his young window to find true companionship and love. In Stephanie Evanovich’s Big Girl Panties, Holly Brennan consoled herself with food while her husband succumbed to illness. When he dies, she decides to work off her weight and grief with a personal trainer, and their relationship soon becomes very personal indeed.
Sometimes death isn’t the last word. In Anna Randol’s Regency-era spy novel Sins of a Ruthless Rogue, Olivia Swift sent heartthrob Clayton Campbell to the gallows to save her father, who had committed the crime Clayton was charged with. She’s astonished when Clayton returns to her, having dodged execution and become a spy for England. He wants revenge, but soon love—and Olivia’s willingness to admit her mistakes—changes his mind.
Shannon Stacey’s All He Ever Desired pairs a single mom with her lost and rediscovered lover, a building contractor—but their romance falters when her teen son is found to be behind acts of vandalism at the building site. They’re not the only couple considering thorny questions about custody and stepparenthood: in Susan Mallery’s Just One Kiss, a man who once needed witness protection and is now a professional bodyguard wonders whether he can ever be a suitable husband for his long-ago sweetheart, or a suitable father for her daughter. And in Juliana Stone’s The Summer He Came Home, a single mother falls for a musician who’s spent his life on the road and struggles to believe that he’s really ready to settle down.
Getting out of the big city is a romantic catalyst for the heroine of Kristan Higgins’s The Best Man, who returns to her hometown and unexpectedly falls for the veteran who was supposed to be best man at her wedding until she learned—minutes from the altar—that her fiancé was gay. In Cat Johnson’s One Night with a Cowboy, an English professor leaves New York for Oklahoma and swoons for a divorced ROTC instructor who had all but given up on love. It’s no coincidence that a lot of these stories feature members of the military; maybe they need second chances most of all.
PW’s Top 10: Romance
Bungalow Nights. Christie Ridgway. HQN, Feb. 26
The Lemon Orchard. Luanne Rice. Viking/Pamela Dorman, July 2
Once Again a Bride. Jane Ashford. Sourcebooks Casablanca, Feb. 1
Big Girl Panties. Stephanie Evanovich. William Morrow, July 9
Sins of a Ruthless Rogue. Anna Randol. Avon, Mar. 26
All He Ever Desired. Shannon Stacey. HQN, Feb. 260
Just One Kiss. Susan Mallery. HQN, May 28
The Summer He Came Home. Juliana Stone. Sourcebooks Casablanca, Apr. 1
The Best Man. Kristan Higgins. HQN, Feb. 26
One Night with a Cowboy. Cat Johnson. Kensington/Brava, Feb. 26
Sins of a Ruthless Rogue by Anna Randol (Mar. 26, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-0062231352). Amid the glittering palaces of Russia and the noble houses of London, a woman must call upon a dangerous man from her past.
Run to You by Rachel Gibson (Apr. 30, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-0062069146) returns to Texas for the second in the Military Men series, which tells what happens when a tough guy meets his match. 210,000-copy announced first printing.
Love at First Sight: A Cupid, Texas Novel by Lori Wilde (May 28, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-0062218933). Wilde launches a series set in a small Texas town where every wish for love comes true. 110,000-copy announced first printing.
Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare (May 28, mass market, $5.99, ISBN 978-0062240125). Dare continues her bestselling Spindle Cove historical series with a Pygmalion story in which a barmaid becomes a duchess. 150,000-copy announced first printing.
Once Upon a Tower by Eloisa James (May 28, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-0062223876). James continues her bestselling fairy tale series with a Regency-era retelling of the story of Rapunzel. 150,000-copy announced first printing.
An English Bride in Scotland by Lynsay Sands (June 25, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-0061963117). Sands, author of the Argeneau vampire series and countless historical romances, begins a historical series set in the highlands of Scotland. 175,000-copy announced first printing.
The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn (June 25, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-0062072924). The third in bestseller Quinn’s historical series featuring the irrepressible Smythe-Smiths. 450,000-copy announced first printing.
Starting Now: A Blossom Street Novel by Debbie Macomber (Apr. 2, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0345528810). Bestseller Macomber returns to Seattle’s Blossom Street in this tale about the promise of new beginnings and the unending delights of companionship and love.
True Love by Jude Deveraux (July 2, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0345541796) launches a series set on Nantucket and featuring the new generation of Montgomerys and Taggerts, the familiar families from her classic novels.
A Vow for Always by Wanda E. Brunstetter (July 1, mass market, $6.99, ISBN 978-1620291474). The final book in a six-consecutive-month Amish romance serial. 50,000-copy announced first printing.
The Wild Ones by M. Leighton (Mar. 5, trade paper, $14, ISBN 978-0425267806). The bestselling contemporary romance e-book, now from Berkley in both e-book and physical editions.
Rush by Maya Banks (Feb. 5, trade paper, $15, ISBN 978-0425267042). The first book in the Breathless erotic romance trilogy.
Jennifer: An O’Malley Love Story by Dee Henderson (May 1, trade paper, $12.99, ISBN 978-0764211126). Henderson presents the untold story of Jennifer, the youngest O’Malley, in a novella with ties to both her O’Malley series and her recent novel Full Disclosure. 35,000-copy announced first printing.
Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer (June 1, trade paper, $14.99, ISBN 978-0764209666). On his way to interview for a position at a church in the Piney Woods of Texas, Crockett Archer can scarcely believe it when he’s forced off the train by a retired outlaw and presented to the man’s daughter as the minister she requested for her birthday. 20,000-copy announced first printing.
Bold Strokes Books
The Lone Hunt by L.L. Raand (Mar. 19, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1602828605). Werewolves and vampires battle in Raand’s continuation of her popular lesbian paranormal series.
I Remember by Julie Cannon (Apr. 16, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1602828667). Two women enjoy a no-strings-attached fling on a cruise and are surprised when it turns into something more.
Improvisation by Karis Walsh (May 14, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1602828728). High school geometry teacher Jan Carroll thinks she’s figured out the shape of her life and her future, until graphic artist and fiddle player Tina Nelson comes along and teaches her to improvise.
(dist. by PGW)
Smokin’ Hot Firemen: Erotic Romance Stories for Women, edited by Delilah Devlin (July 16, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1573449342). Devlin’s anthology includes stories teeming with gorgeous firemen from some of today’s hottest romance writers.
Bungalow Nights by Christie Ridgway (Feb. 26, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-0373777457). Ridgway matches up an injured combat medic and the daughter of his fallen comrade in a tender, slow-moving romance full of California sun.
The Best Man by Kristan Higgins (Feb. 26, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-0373777921). The path to love is bumpy and strewn with land mines in this surprisingly deep charmer from rom-com queen Higgins.
All He Ever Desired by Shannon Stacey (Feb. 26, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-0373777563). A single mom and the man whose heart she broke get a second chance at first love in Stacey’s second Kowalskis contemporary.
Just One Kiss by Susan Mallery (May 28, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-0373777600). Mallery’s newest Fool’s Gold romance reunites childhood companions who find that adulthood has changed their friendly feelings into romantic longing.
Bare It All by Lori Foster (Apr. 30, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-0373777617). A cop’s craving to know more about the woman next door could prove fatal in the steamy new novel from bestselling romantic suspense author Foster.
Big Sky Summer by Linda Lael Miller (May 28, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-0373777655). Miller continues her series set in Parable, Mont., with another tale of “swoon-worthy” cowboys and the women who love them.
A Rose in the Storm by Brenda Joyce (June 25, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-0373777709). Joyce brings readers to the Scottish Highlands in the time of Robert the Bruce, where forbidden passion threatens to undermine important political alliances.
The Lady and the Laird by Nicola Cornick (July 23, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-0373777419) puts an entertaining Regency-era spin on Cyrano de Bergerac with this story of a demure young woman who writes racy love letters on behalf of her friends.
Sand Castle Bay by Sherryl Woods (Mar. 26, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-0778314363) launches the Ocean Breeze series, set on the North Carolina coast, with a second-chance-at-love story between long-ago sweethearts.
The Wanderer by Robyn Carr (Mar. 26, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-0778314479). An Army veteran inherits Oregon coastal land from a buddy and learns it comes with strings attached—including a romance with a Coast Guard pilot who’s trying to raise her younger brother.
A Brother’s Honor by Brenda Jackson (May 28, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-0778314332). Three brothers try to untangle family secrets in Jackson’s new contemporary series, launching with a romance between the eldest brother and the consultant he hires to turn around the family business.
The Look of Love by Bella Andre (May 28, mass market, $5.99, ISBN 978-0778315568). Andre’s popular e-book series, beginning with this powerful tale of a woman fleeing abuse and the man who longs to protect her, is rereleased in paperback with some new material.
No Strings Attached by Kate Angell (Apr. 1, trade paper, $9.95, ISBN 978-0758269201). Angell follows No Tan Lines with another boardwalk romance set in the charming beach town of Barefoot William.
One Night with a Cowboy by Cat Johnson (Feb. 26, trade paper, $9.95, ISBN 978-0758285386). A one-night stand between a professor and a cowboy turns into romance when they meet again at the university where she teaches English and he’s on the ROTC staff.
The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe by Mary Simses (July 9, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0316225854). A high-powered Manhattan attorney finds love, purpose, and the promise of a simpler life in her grandmother’s hometown. 60,000-copy announced first printing.
Little, Brown/Reagan Arthur
Beautiful Day: A Novel by Elin Hilderbrand (June 25, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0316099783). A summer wedding stirs up trouble for both families in this new novel from bestselling author Hilderbrand. 200,000-copy announced first printing..
Dangerous Refuge by Elizabeth Lowell (Apr. 30, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0062132710). Lowell’s new romantic suspense novel pairs a suspicious big-city cop come home to his family’s ranch with a woman who works for a group that seeks out ranches to conserve. 150,000-copy announced first printing.
Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich (July 9, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0062224842). A heartfelt romantic comedy debut about a grieving widow who starts out wanting to get in shape and winds up getting her groove back. 150,000-copy announced first printing.
Blush by Lauren Jameson (May 7, trade paper, $15, ISBN 978-0451419729). From the author of Surrender to Temptation comes a provocative story of passion.
Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts (Apr. 16, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0399159893). In bestseller Roberts’s newest romantic stand-alone, a man accused of murdering his soon-to-be-ex-wife falls in love with the woman who helps to heal his heart and repair his reputation.
Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren (Feb. 12, trade paper, $15, ISBN 978-1476730097). Lauren’s cheeky workplace romance was first published as an e-book and quickly acquired a substantial following; this paperback edition is extensively updated.
If I Were You by Lisa Renee Jones (Mar. 12, trade paper, $15, ISBN 978-1476726045). In the steamy first installment in Jones’s Inside Out erotic romance trilogy, a woman reads a diary of sexual escapades and becomes obsessed with re-creating them.
One Heart to Win by Johanna Lindsey (June 11, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1476714264). Lindsey’s 50th novel reveals hidden identities, family secrets, and love that transcends a decades-long feud in the majestic ranchland of 1880s Montana Territory.
The Last Debutante by Julia London (Feb. 26, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-1439175484). A young Englishwoman abandoned by her chaperones finds an injured man in her grandmother’s Scotland cottage in London’s stand-alone Regency-era romance.
Rimfire Bride by Sara Luck (Feb. 26, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-1451673890). Beautiful, independent Jana strikes out on her own to build a homestead with her sister in the rugged Dakota wilderness—but instead falls in love with a widowed lawman.
Star Crossed by Jennifer Echols (Feb. 26, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-1451677751). The first novel in a series about a public relations firm, the stars they represent, and everything they’d rather keep private.
What the Duke Desires by Sabrina Jeffries (June 18, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-1451693461) launches a historical series with a forbidden romance between a duke and the illegitimate daughter of a viscount.
Caged Warrior: Dragon Kings, Book One by Lindsey Piper (June 25, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-1451695915). The first installment in this paranormal romance series features demonic gladiators, ruthless mafia villains, and a proud race on the brink of extinction.
Perfect Timing: A Harrigan Family Novel by Catherine Anderson (Feb. 26, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-0451239488). In Anderson’s fourth Harrigan Family novel, a winsome druid travels forward in time to break a curse.
Once Again a Bride by Jane Ashford (Feb. 1, mass market, $6.99, ISBN 978-1402276729). A young widow is taken in by her abusive husband’s caring family, who help her come out of her shell and learn to love.
The Summer He Came Home by Juliana Stone (Apr. 1, mass market, $6.99, ISBN 978-1402274800). A single mother wonders whether she can trust a rambling musician to settle down.
A Shot of Sultry by Macy Beckett (Mar. 1, mass market, $6.99, ISBN 978-1402270390). To save her career, a TV producer agrees to shoot a piece on single life in rural America. She even finds a single, good-looking guy to do the show—and naturally ends up seducing him.
The Geek Girl and the Scandalous Earl by Gina Lamm (Mar. 5, mass market, $6.99, ISBN 978-1402277597). An avid gamer falls through an antique mirror into a lavish bedchamber 200 years in the past, and into the arms of an earl in need of rescuing from his foolish romantic entanglements.
Bite Me, Your Grace by Brooklyn Ann (Apr. 1, mass market, $6.99, ISBN 978-1402274442). A bluestocking authoress falls hard for the Lord Vampire of London in this entertaining paranormal historical.
Darius by Grace Burrowes (Apr. 2, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-1402278518). A penniless Regency-era nobleman sells his body to make ends meet until he’s hired to impregnate another nobleman’s wife and finds himself falling in love with her.
A Little Night Mischief by Emily Greenwood (June 1, mass market, $6.99, ISBN 978-1402276316). Regency romance author Greenwood debuts with a playful series about young ladies who discover that a little mischief can be a good thing.
Spencer Hill/Spence City
Copper Girl by Jennifer Allis Provost (June 25, trade paper, $9.95, ISBN 978-1939392022). A magic-user hides her talents, fearful of being found out, until a silver elf appears in her dreams and steals her heart.
St. Martin’s Griffin
The Gin Lovers: The Serial by Jamie Brenner (Feb. 12, trade paper, $14.99, ISBN 978-1250035936). A romantic, sensual story, first published as a three-part e-serial, relates how one Prohibition-era high society woman’s passion and courage lead her to love.
St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Homecoming by Lacey Baker (Apr. 30, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-1250019226). In the first book in a sexy smalltown contemporary series, a doctor returns to his hometown and falls for an old friend.
Sleeping with the Entity by Cat Devon (June 4, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-0312591465). The first book in a paranormal romance trilogy pairs up a chipper cupcake baker and the vampire who’s head of the local business association.
Sanctuary Island by Lily Everett (July 30, mass market, $7.99, ISBN 978-1250018373). In a heartwarming smalltown romance set on an island sanctuary for wild horses, a woman struggling with her past meets a man who can help her heal.
Viking/Pamela Dorman Books
The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice (July 2, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0670025275). A white woman and a Mexican man connect in Malibu over their shared losses: her daughter died, his was lost and never found.