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The Wrong Mr. Darcy

Evelyn Lozada and Holly Lörincz. St. Martin’s Griffin, $16.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-250-62214-3

Lozada, star of the Basketball Wives reality TV show, and coauthor Lörincz (who previously collaborated with Lozada on The Perfect Date) loosely reimagine Pride and Prejudice as a sporty, multicultural romance with a surprising amount of edge. Hara Isari is determined to make it as a sportswriter. Derek Darcy, a professional basketball player in Boston, spent his rookie season sidelined after an injury. He’s now ready to get back in the game when he hears a troubling secret about his best friend and teammate Charles Butler. When Hara wins a national writing award, the prize is an exclusive interview with media-shy Charles, who brings Derek along. At the interview, Derek criticizes her for her softball questions, all of which had to be approved by the team’s hostile owner. Hara and Derek’s first impressions of each other are just as disastrous as Austen fans will expect, but they grow closer as Hara attempts to dig out Charles’s secret. The authors bring the lively plot to an unexpected, explosive finish, but the occasionally stilted prose keeps the tale from fully taking off. Still, the basketball angle is an inventive spin on a favorite story. This is sure to delight fans of sports romance. (June)

Reviewed on 02/28/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Money Man

Nancy Herkness. Montlake Romance, $12.95 trade paper (270p) ISBN 978-1-5420-0016-1

Herkness (Second Act) opens her Consultants series with an intricate, fiery work of romantic suspense. Methodical bookkeeper Alice Thurber loves numbers, her clients, and the small business she’s built for herself in New Jersey. So when she can’t make sense out of a series of tiny discrepancies in her clients’ finances, she contacts a big-time N.Y.C. consulting firm for assistance, and handsome money wiz Derek Killion agrees to look over her books. Derek quickly realizes that the diligent Alice wouldn’t have made such sloppy mistakes, and soon he’s on the trail of the shady tech company behind her accounting software. As Derek and Alice look into the company, they land some powerful corporate enemies willing to go to extremes to protect their secrets. The high stakes propel the couple toward each other, but it is their convincing connection and mutual respect that ignites their passion. The supporting characters, including Derek’s workaholic partners, are just as lovable as the leads, and the well-maintained suspense sends a healthy shot of adrenaline through the tender romance. Readers will be eager for the next in the series. Agent: Jane Dystel, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/28/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Butterfly Bayou

Lexi Blake. Jove, $7.99 mass market (320p) ISBN 978-1-9848-0656-7

Blake (the Courting Justice series) takes a break from romantic suspense with this sweet and spicy small-town contemporary series debut. After a traumatic incident in a Dallas, Tex., emergency room, nurse practitioner Lila Daley pursues a low-stress lifestyle running a clinic in small town Papillon Bayou, La., where her younger sister lives. Lila’s first interaction with sexy sheriff Armie LaVigne, during which he writes her a speeding ticket on her way into town, ignites an attraction. But independent Lila is haunted by her past and isn’t sure she’s ready for a relationship, especially when she realizes getting the townsfolk to trust her medical skills is going to be more difficult than she’d thought. Lila’s strength and vulnerability are balanced by Armie’s intelligence and humor, making them an easy couple to root for. Blake captures the flavor of her colorful Southern town with a vividly drawn cast, including conspiracy nut Gene, lazy alligator Otis, and a slew of ladies determined to keep Armie to themselves. This charming series opener hits all the right notes. Agent: Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyon Literary. (May)

Reviewed on 02/28/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Siri, Who Am I?

Sam Tschida. Quirk, $15.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-68369-168-6

Tschida’s breezy rom-com debut sees a woman with amnesia trying to piece together her identity with only her Instagram account as a guide. When Mia Wallace wakes up in an L.A. hospital, she has a phone and a designer party dress but no memory of who she is. She follows clues on her social media to a mansion she assumes is her house, only to be met by a cute, bewildered housesitter named Max who has never heard of her. Max agrees to help, and the pair crisscross the city following leads about her life. Max proves the perfect confidant and the bond they form as Mia rediscovers herself is more real to her than any of the alarming things she learns about her past. But as more unsavory facts about Mia’s life come to light, she has to figure out how to set the new Mia on a better course than the woman she used to be. Mia’s narrative voice—punctuated with hashtags, chat-speak, and humorous footnotes—won’t be for everyone, but the mystery of her identity is fun and satisfying. This entertaining romance puts a cute twist on the genre. Agent: Barbara Poelle, Irene Goodman Literary. (May)

Reviewed on 02/28/2020 | Details & Permalink

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My Kind of Cowboy

R.C. Ryan. Forever, $8.99 mass market (656p) ISBN 978-1-5387-1684-7

Ryan (Born to be a Cowboy) demonstrates a flair for making domestic Western stories feel welcoming and intimate in this first Wranglers of Wyoming romance. Physical therapist Avery Grant arrives at the immense and prosperous Merrick Ranch ready to help her patient, Brand Merrick, who recently suffered a leg injury. But Brand’s attraction to Avery doesn’t make him any more interested in taking time away from ranch chores to work on stretches with her. For her part, Avery is glad to let Brand’s stubbornness drag out her time on the ranch, as back home in Michigan someone has been leaving her threatening messages (a subplot that’s resolved a little too neatly). Avery and the Merricks establish close ties as she breaks through to Brand, helping him (and eventually his great-grandfather, as well) recover from injuries. Ryan’s gorgeous descriptions of ranch country and the Grand Tetons add escapist pleasure to this family-centric romance. Readers are sure to be swept away. This edition includes a bonus novel by Carolyn Brown. Agent: Susan Ginsburg, Writers House. (May)

Reviewed on 02/28/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Wolf Under Fire

Paige Tyler. Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99 mass market (320p) ISBN 978-1-7282-0561-8

Tyler (Wolf Rebel) cranks up the heat in the action-packed paranormal romance that launches the Special Threat Assessment Team (STAT) series, about a government agency created to monitor supernatural threats. Werewolf Alpha and ex-Navy SEAL Jake Huang moves to Washington, D.C., with his nascent pack—consisting of himself and identical twin 18-year-old women he rescued from vampires—for a job as a STAT team leader. In the new position, he can finally let his fur flag fly and spend meaningful time around fellow supernaturals. Jestina Ridley is a human STAT agent assigned to Jake’s team and bad experiences with supernatural threats in her past have left her with a wariness of werewolves. Despite a rocky start to their relationship, attraction smolders between them as they track a dangerous supernatural entity from the U.S. to the U.K. and to the lushly described shores of French Guiana. Over-the-top situations lead to intricately choreographed action sequences, lending the novel the feel of a delightfully ludicrous cinematic thriller. Tyler teases more fun to come in future installments with the introduction of many complex secondary characters, among them Caleb, an omega werewolf with control issues. Those willing to suspend their disbelief are in for a sizzling thrill ride. Agent: Courtney Miller-Callihan, Handspun Literary. (June)

Reviewed on 02/28/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Iditarod Nights

Cindy Hiday. Ooligan, $16 trade paper (200p) ISBN 978-1-947845-13-8

The unusual setting of this contemporary romance from Hiday (Destination Stardust) overshadows the sweet but slight love story. After an especially tough case, Portland, Ore., criminal defense attorney Claire Stanfield pours her energy into achieving her dream of running the Iditarod sled-dog race. Dillon Cord, a police officer turned bar owner, is also trying to outrun his demons by participating in the race. When Claire meets Dillon shortly after arriving in Alaska, there’s an instant spark. But before the two can act on their feelings, they must navigate, and hope to survive, the grueling trail. With a researcher’s attention to detail, Hiday paints a vibrant picture of Alaskan scenery, allowing the landscape to come alive. Supporting characters, especially Claire’s father and her matchmaking bestie add appeal, but fall by the wayside as the race takes center stage. The premise is winning and the Alaskan vistas often lovely, but readers will struggle to connect with the underdeveloped hero and heroine. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/28/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Taming a Wicked Rake

Tammy Andresen. Swift Romance, $2.99 e-book (125p) ASIN B07SG6FPHG

Andresen’s lively ninth Taming a Duke’s Heart Regency (after Taming a Defiant Duke) unites an independent woman and a reputed womanizer in an unexpected marriage. When Lady Madeline Maddox sends her essays on the plight of women to Charles Delaney, editor of the London Standard, his warm response leads Maddie to believe he values her opinions, not just her social standing and reputation as a beauty. The two strike up a correspondence and she agrees to meet him in person in a rose garden during a society ball, but she encounters rakish Lord Adam Kingsley instead. Maddie mistakes Adam for Charles and they share a blistering kiss, which Charles witnesses. Feeling rebuffed, Charles exposes Maddie’s transgression, hoping to ruin her. To save Maddie’s reputation, Adam proposes marriage. The only catch is that Adam claims he will never be able to love her, having witnessed his parents’ horrible marriage. But as the simmering attraction between them gives way to mutual respect, he may have to go back on his word. Though the instant passion and convenient relationship between Adam and Maddie seem somewhat rushed, the steady growth of their feelings is convincing. The strong leads will appeal to fans of historical romance. (Self-published)

Reviewed on 02/28/2020 | Details & Permalink

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That’s Not a Thing

Jacqueline Friedland. Sparkpress, $16.95 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-68463-030-1

This tender, introspective romance from Friedland (Trouble the Water) hangs on the difficult choice between new and old lovers. Junior lawyer Meredith Altman is happily engaged to pediatric surgeon Aaron Rapp when, while contemplating wedding venues in New York City, she runs into her ex-fiancé, Wesley Latner. Their encounter triggers romantic memories of the life they dreamed of having before their wedding was upended by personal tragedy. Meredith’s emotions are further muddled when Wesley tells her he’s been diagnosed with ALS. As Meredith struggles to understand her feelings for both men, she also begins to doubt her unfulfilling role in the corporate world and questions what she really wants from life. Friedland teases readers with Meredith’s choice between partners, managing to make her indecision and self-doubt both humorous and endearing. Hints about the actual reason Wesley and Meredith broke up in the first place will keep readers turning the pages. Friedland’s treatment of Wesley’s ALS is duly respectful and well done, and Meredith’s desire to care for him is palpable. Fans of sensitively handled love triangles should snap this one up. (Apr)

Reviewed on 02/21/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Solving Sophronia

Jennifer Moore. Covenant Communications, $14.99 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-5244-1235-7

Moore (Charlotte’s Promise) launches her vivid, Victorian-era Blue Orchid Society series with this romantic murder mystery that sees a gutsy upper-class Londoner defying the rigid expectations of her time. A young woman has been murdered in Spitalfields, one of the city’s most dangerous slums. Aspiring reporter Lady Sophronia “Sophie” Bremerton comes across the crime scene and insinuates herself into the investigation hoping for a scoop, much to the annoyance of Jonathan Graham, the detective assigned to the case. Though Sophie makes some astute observations, drawing in part from her knowledge of women’s fashion, Jonathan initially dismisses her, only to later realize he needs her help. Sophie discovers the victim’s identity and is willing to disclose it—provided Jonathan gives her the exclusive on the murder and allows her to assist in the investigation. He reluctantly agrees and soon finds himself drawn to her exceptional talents and brilliant mind. The detailed descriptions and gentle push and pull between the couple will please readers looking for chaste historical romance. A plucky heroine and engrossing mystery make this a treat. (May)

Reviewed on 02/21/2020 | Details & Permalink

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