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December 14, 2020

4 New Romance Novels from St. Martin's Press

by MK French

Are you looking for romances that have nothing to do with the holidays? St. Martin's Press has you covered with several new romance novels hitting shelves this month. Today, I review two romantic comedies, a Regency romance, and a contemporary romance. You should go ahead and pre-order these novels in case the holidays get busy as you don't want to miss them!
Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

Truth, Lies, and Second Dates by MaryJanice Davidson

Truth, Lies and Second Dates
Dec 2020; St. Martin's Griffin; 978-1250053176
audio, ebook, print (320 pages); rom-com
Captain Ava Capp had left her past and home state of Minnesota behind for over a decade, becoming a pilot and flying all over the world. Returning to her home town unexpectedly, Ava runs into Dr. Tom Baker, the medical examiner that is now looking into the murder of her best friend, which had driven her away. An attraction between them exists, so can they solve the cold case and still work together?

While this is the third in a series of novels exploring romance novel tropes and spinning them on their head, there's no need to have read those to enjoy this one. This is a murder mystery as well as a romance, and MaryJanice injects a lot of humor into the text as well. As with her prior novels, some of that is parenthetically added to the text, which is stream of consciousness from Ava's point of view. Dialogue is witty and snappy, full of fun banter and snark, just how I like it. Chapters are short, matching the snappy dialogue, and makes the "just one more chapter" instinct an incredible time sink. Before I knew it, I read more chapters than I intended to!

Ava and Tom have great chemistry. He's very literal and a little goofy, with a precocious niece that has a very polysyllabic vocabulary at a very young age. It's adorable, and they mesh with Ava's quirky sense of humor very well. The bulk of the story is told in conversations, so it zings back and forth very quickly. There is description where necessary, but that tends to take a backseat to the conversations. Ava and Tom have very witty banter and help each other out in more ways than one. Just like the other books in this series, we have a list of tropes that were played around with for this novel, as well as the parenthetical commentary for which ones were inverted. I really enjoyed this book, and it was a fun way to spend my afternoon.

The Princess and the Rogue by Kate Bateman

The Princess and the Rogue
December 2020;  St. Martin; 978-1250306098
ebook, print (336 pages); Regency romance
Sebastian Wolff, Earl of Mowbray doesn't believe in love until he kisses a beautiful stranger in a brothel. The woman is involved in intrigue surrounding the Russian princess Anastasia Denisova, who had been hiding in London as Anna Brown. She needs help to escape a traitor, but the proximity between them only deepens their attraction. How can it work?

The Princess and the Rogue is the third of the Bow Street Bachelors, following This Earl of Mine (read my review) and To Catch An Earl (read my review). It's not necessary to have read those first, though it's fun if you did because the heroes of those novels and the heroines are mentioned as they rib Sebastian on his bachelorhood. He isn't used to having a woman say they're not interested, and Anya is the first woman to deny him despite her attraction to him. It doesn't help that they meet in a brothel where Anya is teaching some of the girls to read. She isn't the whore he thought she was, but ultimately needs his protection when it becomes obvious that the traitor after her in the opening chapters is still tracking her down a year later. Stuck together, it gives more opportunity for them to get to know each other, kiss, and figure out more about the traitor.

Anya and Sebastian get along well and have the same goal in mind. Of course, their desires get the better of them, and danger, as well as duty, wind up separating them. Our happily ever after is still assured, with hints of other pairings at the very end of the novel. The Princess and the Rogue was a lot of fun to read, leaving me grinning as much as the characters were. I really enjoyed the book, as I did the prior two in the series.

Boone by Emily March

December 2020; St. Martin; 978-1250314956
audio, ebook, print (304 pages); romance
Boone McBride is a smooth-talking lawyer that got his world turned inside out, leading him to return to Eternity Springs, Colorado. Being there allowed him to heal, and now he's trying to pay it forward to Hannah Dupree, who is grieving incredible losses of her own. Boone and Hannah are drawn to each other, not just because of their difficult pasts, but because of their attraction and growing desire. Ghosts from the past still loom large, and only together can they move forward.

Boone is the eighteenth Eternity Springs novel and the third McBride of Texas novel, following Jackson (read my review) and Tucker (read my review), the other two McBride cousins. Other Eternity Springs novels have been reviewed on Girl Who Reads as well. References are made to them, but it's not necessary to have read them all. Any references are explained enough for a new reader to jump in feet first.

Hannah and Boone's meet-cute isn't exactly cute, as Hannah is leaning far too close to a guard rail and looks about ready to jump. Boone is a chatty fellow, drawing her into the town and gradually coaxing out the story of her losses and the guilt that had shrouded her for the past three years. Boone has his own guilt and losses, which helps him understand what she's going through. At no time does he push her faster than she's willing to go, though once she commits to him, she falls just as fast as he does.

Mentions of child death, abuse, suicide, adoption, and the legal system are mentioned all throughout the book if these are topics that can bother the reader. Nothing is explained in any detail, just that a young girl was badly abused and Boone was guilty about not being able to bring the abuser to justice. This was the final straw after his other losses that had him leaving Texas for Colorado. The topics are treated respectfully, and none of these painful topics are brushed aside as secondary to the romance. If anything, it serves as a bonding experience for them. It's a mature kind of romance, a second chance for both of them to begin living again. With the kind of year that we've all had, we can all use a message like this.

Buy Boone at Amazon

Ten Rules for Faking It by Sophie Sullivan

Ten Rules for Faking It
Dec 2020; St. Martin's Griffin; 978-1250624161
audio, ebook, print (384 pages); rom-com
Everly Dean is a radio producer and has had terrible birthdays for the past several years. She has anxiety on top of that, so she's sure her cute but distant boss doesn't like her, making her even more nervous to pitch her idea for a new podcast. When she rants on-air (by accident!) about her ex, listeners line up to date her. As much as she would rather avoid people, she's going to go ahead with the "fake it till you make it" idea, and creates ten rules to do that. Maybe this year will be her year after all.

Everly has the worst birthday, catching her boyfriend with his personal assistant, and ranting about it to her friend Stacey, who is the DJ trying to sing happy birthday... on air. This ultimately leads to a "Bachelorette" style program to save the show from being canceled, as Chris' father is using the mistake to get the time slot for Chris' sister to use. Chris has a crush on Everly but never said anything, so he has a hard time with the idea, even though he's the one that pitched it to save the show from his father. This is a new setup for rom-com territory but still puts Everly and Chris constantly in each other's orbits to see how well they actually fit.

There are a lot of cute elements, from Everly's wonderful friendship with Stacey to the snappy dialogue that a lot of the characters have with each other. I enjoyed seeing how Everly loved her parents, even if she didn't understand them or how their relationship worked, and that her anxiety was a very real problem she had to deal with. It wasn't a convenient problem she had, but one that truly interfered with things she wanted to do. This isn't dismissed by others, even if they didn't fully understand the extent it interfered with her life. They frequently refer to her anxiety as her head being full of disjointed thoughts or being overwhelming, which is how anxiety is for most people.

Everly learns over the course of the novel that anxiety isn't all there is to her, and the quiet isolation isn't what she wants out of life anymore. Over the course of her dates, she realizes what she doesn't want in a relationship, which is just as important to know. At the same time, Chris also figures out what he actually wants in his own life, and if he is willing to sacrifice others to try pleasing his father, who dismisses everything he does as inadequate. The story he tells about being a child with his Bear is heartbreaking, and likely all too common. The two truly belong together and make a great pair when they find their happily ever after.

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 a golden retriever. 

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  1. Both Truth, Lies, and Second Dates and Ten Rules for Faking It are going on my TBR list. I could use a little light reading over the holiday.