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Lakeshire Park

Megan Walker. Shadow Mountain, $15.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-62972-734-9

The choice between true love and a marriage of convenience is at the heart of this appealing G-rated Regency romance from Walker (A Beautiful Love). Amelia and Clara Moore live with their dying stepfather. If at least one of them cannot secure a marriage before his death, they’ll wind up homeless, unable to inherit. When the sisters receive an invitation to stay with the wealthy Demsworth family, they jump at the chance, as Clara has her eye on Sir Ronald Demsworth and Amelia is determined to help her catch him. Upon arrival, they discover that Clara has a rival for Ronald’s affection in Miss Georgiana Wood, and Georgiana’s brother, Peter, is equally dead set on helping his own sister. As Peter and Amelia play matchmaker, they develop feelings for each other, but when Amelia receives word that her stepfather has died, Lady Demsworth offers Amelia an arranged marriage with her nephew. Though the drama throughout is slight and quickly resolved, readers will find it easy to invest in practical, business-minded Amelia as she learns to follow her heart. This gentle love story is a treat. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2019 | Details & Permalink

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My Way to You

Catherine Bybee. Montlake Romance, $12.95 trade paper (404p) ISBN 978-1-5420-0980-5

A healthy, mutually supportive relationship is at the center of the touching first Creek Canyon romance from Bybee (Faking Forever). After Parker Sinclair’s parents died two years ago, she dropped out of college to care for her two younger siblings. Life has been a financial struggle ever since, made worse by the recent wildfire that came close to destroying the family’s Creek Canyon, Calif., home. With mudslides now a looming threat, public works supervisor Colin Hudson is tasked with overseeing the building of two temporary dams on Parker’s property. Despite their instant mutual attraction, Parker’s fierce independence and refusal to accept Colin’s help, even when he’s just doing his job, leaves the pair at odds with each other. The protective bond between Parker and her siblings and Colin’s close relationship with his own gregarious family give the story its heart. Though the path to mutual understanding could stand to be shorter, Parker and Colin’s emotional vulnerability as they learn to open up to one another is sure to endear them to readers. Romance fans will be pleased with this tender love story. Agent: Jane Dystel, Dystel & Goderich Literary. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Valley of Dreams

Sarah M. Eden. Mirror, $16.99 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-947152-74-8

Opposites attract in the earnest sixth historical romance in Eden’s Hope Springs series (after Long Journey Home). Gruff, alcoholic Patrick O’Connor, a veteran of the Civil War, has been living in Canada since the war ended, allowing his family to believe that he’s dead so that he doesn’t have to own up to his alcoholism. When Patrick’s mother learns he survived, she sends him a letter calling him home to Hope Springs, Wyo. During his stagecoach trip there, Patrick meets effervescent widow Eliza Porter and her young daughter, Lydia, who are also headed to Hope Springs. Once in town, Eliza finds work as a housekeeper, though she dreams of opening an inn, while Patrick struggles to mend fences with his family. Eliza and Patrick grow close in the confines of the tiny town, bonded in part by the irresistibly adorable Lydia, but in order to embrace a future together, Patrick must be willing to give up alcohol and find a healthier way to cope with war trauma. Eden’s fast-paced narration is enhanced by her affable but emotionally scarred protagonists. Readers will be pleased by the tight-knit community and heartfelt emotions of this tender love story. Agent: Pam Victorio, D4EO Literary. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Vendetta Road

Christine Feehan. Jove, $7.99 mass market (464p) ISBN 978-1-9848-0356-6

Feehan’s overlong third Torpedo Ink romance (after Vengeance Road) teems with vigilante bikers and copious amounts of public sex. Isaak “Ice” Koval, secretary of the Torpedo Ink motorcycle club, is trailing suspected pedophiles on the Las Vegas strip when his gaze is snagged by a beautiful, unhappy-looking woman, the very sight of whom gives him his first natural erection in years. Ice is surprised when the same woman, orphaned heiress Soleil Brodeur, later stumbles into the biker bar where Torpedo Ink drinks, fleeing her physically abusive fiancé. Ice instantly puts her under his protection and the pair proceed to seduce one another over the course of the night, with Soleil eagerly committing to joining the motorcycle club lifestyle. Feehan’s thin plot is barely allowed to breathe between long chunks of backstory and explicit sexual encounters that don’t advance the narrative, and the investigation into the pedophile ring is dropped for long chunks of the book. Unlike Soleil, many readers will find Ice’s possessiveness (“You’re my property... Torpedo Ink will protect you”) disturbing rather than romantic. Teetering on the line between romance and erotica, this dramatic story will satisfy die-hard series fans, but turn off casual readers. Agent: Steven Axelrod, the Axelrod Agency. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2019 | Details & Permalink

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The Earl Takes a Fancy

Lorraine Heath. Avon, $7.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-295190-8

Heath returns to form with the charming fifth Sin for All Seasons novel (after A Duchess in his Bed). Independent but starry-eyed, Fancy Trewlove dreams of falling in love with a lord who will allow her to maintain her bookstore and stay close with her family. Her belief that she can have it all is partially inspired by a newspaper article singing the praises of Matthew Sommersby, Earl of Rosemont, written by his late wife just before she died in hopes of ensuring her husband’s future happiness with a second wife. The article spurs many hopeful young ladies to come calling, driving the still grieving Matthew to flee his mansion to hide out in a humble home near Fancy’s bookshop, which he soon frequents. Believing Matthew to be a commoner, Fancy initially fights her attraction to him, but soon the pair grow close. Somewhat unbelievably for Victorian London, Fancy lives alone, leaving ample opportunity for her and Matthew to have unchaperoned time together. Fancy and Matthew’s path to a happy ending is fairly unremarkable, but their palpable connection will satisfy series fans. Agent: Robin Rue, Writers House. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2019 | Details & Permalink

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The Last Real Cowboy

Caitlin Crews. St. Martin’s, $7.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-29527-9

The steamy third romance in Crews’s Cold River Ranch series (after Cold Heart, Warm Cowboy) combines small-town charm with delectable cowboy swagger. At 22, Amanda Kittredge is tired of being treated as the baby of her overprotective family of Cold River, Colo., cattle ranchers. Ready to rebel, she takes a job at the infamous Coyote bar. After the death of Brady Everett’s abusive father, the 32-year-old bad boy returns to Cold River to work on his family’s ranch. Amanda’s brother Riley enlists Brady, his best friend, to keep his little sister out of the trouble she’s thirsting for, but seeing Amanda working at the Coyote is enough to convince Brady that she’s all grown up. Amanda seizes the opportunity to ask Brady, her long-standing crush, to teach her about sex and men. Brady obliges, despite fears of what Riley might do if he ever found out. Brady’s willing lessons and Amanda’s breathless “research” soon grow into a deeper connection, and the tight-knit community, familial pressures, and vivid depictions of ranching country add character. Romance fans will eagerly devour this high-heat love story. Agent: Holly Root, Root Literary. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/06/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Starting Over at Blueberry Creek

Annie Rains. Forever, $7.99 mass market (432p) ISBN 978-1-5387-0086-0

The fourth installment in Rain’s Sweetwater Springs series (after Snowfall on Cedar Trail) returns to the charming small town for a spirited firefighter romance. After Brenna McConnell’s parents were killed in a car accident, she put her own life on hold to raise her sister, Eve, quitting college and taking over her mother’s business. Seven years later, now 18-year-old Eve decides to follow in her father’s footsteps by joining the fire department, leading protective Brenna to clash with firefighter Luke Marini, who hired Eve and, in Brenna’s view, put her in danger. Luke is scarred both physically and emotionally, but his fear of letting anyone in is tested by his instant attraction to the fiery Brenna, who also happens to be his next-door neighbor. Soon their heated arguments give way to passion, but when Brenna manages to sell her mother’s company, she finally has the money she needs to go back to college and must make a difficult choice between new love and old ambitions. This gentle love story, complete with cameos from fan-favorite characters, will enchant readers. This edition includes a story by Melinda Curtis, not seen by PW. Agent: Sarah Younger, Nancy Yost Literary Agency. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 12/06/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Whiteout

Adriana Anders. Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99 mass market (448p) ISBN 978-1-4926-9870-8

Anders (Blank Canvas) delivers a solid romantic thriller centered around polar opposites forced to survive an Antarctic winter together while being pursued by a killer. Angel Smith was looking for an escape to give her time to sort out her mess of a life and plan her next steps when she signed on to be the cook at the South Pole’s Burke-Ruhe Research Station. When the research station is attacked by a powerful corporate enemy intent on stealing research, Angel barely makes it out with the help of geologist Ford Cooper. They never got along under the best of circumstances, and now they’re forced to rely on each other to stay alive as a snowstorm looms and their attacker chases them across the icy landscape. Unasked-for chemistry and surprising tenderness grows between them in the midst of the freezing cold as Anders strikes an impressive balance between romance and page-turning suspense. Readers who crave high-stakes action mixed in with their romance will be taken by this consistently surprising adventure. Agent: Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/06/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Forbidden Promises

Synithia Williams. HQN, $7.99 mass market (352p) ISBN 978-1-335-01324-8

Williams (His Pick for Passion) makes waves with this exceptional tale of forbidden love, the first in the Robidoux Family series. Four years away have done nothing to diminish India Robidoux’s secret feelings for her sister Elaina’s ex-husband, Travis Strickland, whom she’s known since she was a teenager and with whom she once shared one perfect kiss. Travis always knew he’d married the wrong sister, but his teenage affair with Elaina left her pregnant, and he did what he thought was right. Now Travis is a high-powered lawyer helping out with his best friend, and India’s brother, Byron’s Senate race. When Byron calls India home to work for his campaign, the close proximity to Travis tests her self-control and familial loyalty. Travis doesn’t want to cause a rift between India and her family, so he attempts to conceal his feelings, but the more time they spend together, the more their desire bubbles to the surface. With skillful characterization and sizzling chemistry, Williams succeeds at capturing the allure of this taboo connection. Even skeptical readers will be hard-pressed not to root for India and Travis. Agent: Tricia Skinner, Foreword Literary. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/06/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Tough Guy

Rachel Reid. Carina, $4.99 e-book (330 p) ISBN 978-1-488-06891-1

Opposites attract in the solid, sexy third sports romance in Reid’s Game Changer series (after Heated Rivalry). As the new enforcer of the Toronto Guardians hockey team, gay, clinically anxious Ryan Price is paid to be intimidating on the ice, but in his private life he’s shy, sensitive, and recovering from a recent mental health crisis. Moving home to Toronto leads Ryan to reconnect with Fabian Salah, who Ryan crushed on as a teen. Fabian, now a professional singer, is smitten with Ryan but hates hockey and is disturbed by the fights Ryan gets into as part of his job. As they spend more time together, lengthy heart-to-hearts help them reconcile their differences and will endear them both to readers. Burly Ryan has insecurities about love, sex, and his sexuality, but the more comfortable Fabian, who wears makeup and lacy underwear, helps Ryan through his hang-ups in love scenes as tender as they are steamy. Reid uses the backdrop of professional hockey to addresses locker-room homophobia, violence in sports, and issues of addiction without alienating readers who may not care for the game. This is a sweet, satisfying romance. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/06/2019 | Details & Permalink

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