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February 14, 2018

4 Romance Novels for Valentine's Day

by MK French

Today is Valentine's Day. Weekday holidays are sometimes difficult to celebrate. If you find yourself alone tonight or just without plans, then here are 3 books to treat yourself plus one for your wishlist.
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A Devil in Scotland by Suzanne Enoch

A Devil in Scotland
January 30; St. Martin's; 978-1250095459
audio, ebook, print (320 pages)
regency romance
Callum MacCreith was a foolhardy, drunken younger brother that finally pushed his brother too far. After ten years in America, he hears word that his brother is dead in Scotland and his family's title and lands will go to a distant cousin. The manner of his brother Ian's death makes him instantly feel it was murder, and he vows vengeance. He returns to Scotland to find that his sister-in-law Rebecca, whom he had always loved, had a daughter and they are caught by the very men that Callum had always suspected of treachery to get at the fortune amassed together with Ian and Rebecca's father.

While Callum is obnoxious in the beginning before exiled from his family home, that attitude has changed and his personality deepened over time. Shades of it remain in how imperious he can be at times throughout the novel, but this time it's deliberate. He tries to make himself a target to keep Rebecca and Margaret safe, with the predictable romantic entanglements between him and Rebecca. Margaret is an adorable little girl, and it's easy to see how Callum instantly feels protective of her, even when he suspected Rebecca of being part of the plot to kill Ian. Rebecca, for all the constraints of the Regency period, is strong-willed and determined to do the right thing, as most heroines in these novels are. There are a lot of entanglements regarding the properties within the MacCreith family, the shipping business that was built up, as well as the growing emotional entanglements. Those financial concerns aren't initially brought up in the novel but unfolds over time as Callum discovers the truth about Ian's death as well as the death of Rebecca's father soon after. The final (expected) showdown is satisfying and brings all of the hanging plot threads together in a neat conclusion.

Buy A Devil in Scotland at Amazon

The Rogue is Back in Town by Anna Bennett

The Rogue is Back in Town
January 2018; St. Martin's; 978-1250100948
ebook, print (368 pages); regency romance
Sam is a dissolute younger brother hoping to mend his relationship with his older brother Nigel, who is held as a paragon in polite society. In order to do so, he has to clear out a London property of its current possible residents, or else he will have nowhere to live. These residents turn out to be Juliette Lacey and her uncle Alistair, and Sam is smitten.

This is the third in the Wayward Wallflower series, but it's not necessary to have read the two prior books to understand this one. The setup to get Sam and Juliette together in the house is ridiculous and absolutely due to the social constraints of the Regency era. It's hilarious to watch the interactions between the two of them in the early chapters, especially since I'm such a sucker for snarky relationships in fiction. I liked the progression of Sam and Juliette's relationship, and how much Sam respected Juliette's love of her family and sense of agency. The villain in the novel is really a piece of work, and I was disappointed that we don't see some kind of true comeuppance for him. Of course, there's a rather pat solution to the housing problem, which I guessed several chapters before the big reveal. Overall, this is a fun read, and perfectly in keeping with the Regency romance genre.

Buy The Rogue is Back in Town at Amazon

Wallflower Most Wanted by Manda Collins

Wallflower Most Wanted
January 2018; St Martin's; 978-1250109903
ebook, print (320 pages); romance, mystery
This is a novel in the "Studies in Scandal" series, but it's not necessary to have read the earlier books in this series to understand this one. Sophia Hastings is an artist, and one of the four bluestocking heiresses. While painting, she overhears a conversation that sounds lethal to another local artist. Determined to help, she and Reverend Lord Benedick Lisle are focused on bringing down the forgery ring that the Home Office has been looking into.

Sophia is delightfully stubborn about her feelings for the vicar and her friends. Of course, they make fun of her for it, and two refer back to their own tumultuous romances. It's actually fun to see Benedick receive some good-natured ribbing of his own from his brothers since I don't see the hero of the story getting called out on his emotions too often. The mystery for Sophia and Benedick to solve is one that keeps the two of them together so that they overcome their own stubbornness and admit their love for each other. There's even a twist to it, just so that it isn't so overly predictable. I liked how Sophia and Benedick interacted with each other and with the supporting cast of characters. Definitely a fun and easy read.

Buy Wallflower Most Wanted at Amazon

Make Me Want by Katee Robert

Make Me Want
March 1; Harlequin Dare; ebook (159 pages)
women's fiction, romance
A successful lawyer hoping to make partner by getting married to appease her conservative bosses, Lucy Baudin has few options. After a devastating breakup, she hadn't dated in two years. Her former friend Gideon Novak is a headhunter, so she hires him for a deceptively simple job: find her a husband and teach her to regain her confidence in the bedroom.

This is a steamy friends-to-lovers trope, so fans of this will be delighted. It's clear from the outset that Lucy and Gideon are perfect for each other, even with the ridiculous setup and their emotional hangups. Of course, Gideon will get jealous when Lucy dates the men he finds for her. Of course, he will feel as though he had taken advantage of the situation. Of course, Lucy will compare her dates to Gideon. Of course, they will confront her ex, who has no redeeming features in the novel whatsoever. It's how we get there that's the fun part, and why this trope is such a fun one to play with. Lucy is a likable and relatable character, confident in her profession but not in her personal life. We can all feel that way sometimes, which is why this happily ever after tale works.

Buy Make Me Want at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever. 

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