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July 22, 2021

3 Romance Novels to Read

by MK French

Still looking for a great summer romance? Find it within the pages of these three books!

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

What Shows the Heart by Karen A. Wyle

What Shows the Heart
July 2021; Oblique Angles Press; 978-1735558660
ebook, print (268 pages); western romance

Jake is the grandson of preachers and failed to protect Mamie from the cruelties of living in a small town. Years after she fled, Jake is a bitter man with multiple regrets, and Mamie now runs the parlor house in Cowbird Creek. Meeting again now, can they start a future together?

This is book three in her Cowbird Creek series but can be read as a standalone. For those that did read the first two books, you’ll recognize the characters as cameos since they live in town. This book focuses on Jake, who happened to pass through town and throw out a rowdy cowboy on Mamie’s front step at the marshall’s going away party. They remember each other, but begin with an air of stilted formality and then work on reconnecting as friends in the beginning. Even after Jake decided to continue on initially, they still had a fondness for each other, which then deepened in time. Theirs is a love that crept in slowly, built on mutual affection and appreciation for all they’ve

Our hero and heroine are older, so this isn’t the same flash of lust and love that are common in books with younger characters. We see as much of their relationships with other people as we do with the two of them together, really fleshing them out as people with needs and wants outside of a romantic relationship. Jake not only sees her as a woman with her own needs and rights, he never puts her down or assumes she should be grateful for his attention. Mamie sees Jake as the man he became, even though she remembers him as the boy that defended her reputation when holier than thou people were only too willing to call her names as a child because of who her mother was.

I liked this look into a small town in the Old West, and the unconventional couples that formed. While I knew that Mamie and Jake would get together by the end of the book, I was glad to see that the struggles in their relationship had more to do with Jake’s perception of his past and Mamie’s would-be paramour who really needed a punch in the mouth. The two of them were always on the same wavelength, and I’m glad they were able to talk about their feelings and see they were worth acting on.

Buy What Shows the Heart at Amazon
(the ebook is a free read for Kindle Unlimited subscribers)

When A Duke Loves A Governess by Olivia Drake

When a Duke Loves a Governess
July 2021; St. Martin; 978-1250174499
audio, ebook, print (320 pages); Regency romance

Tessa James wants to open a millinery shop, and she needs a loan from the lord that had sired and abandoned her. She has no idea how to find him, but if she's a governess at least will have access to the ton. Guy Whitby is the new Duke of Carlin and needs a governess that his daughter Sophy won't scare away. The two meet and are attracted to one another. Guy has enemies, however, and their forbidden romance must end.

When a Duke Loves a Governess is the third book in the Unlikely Duchesses series, following The Duke I Once Knew (read my review) and Forever My Duke (read my review). Here, Tessa has never met Guy before and has no interest in being part of the nobility past whatever loan she can possibly get. She finagles her way into an interview and uses her past as a child in a workhouse to realize that Sophy is acting out because she felt abandoned and unloved. She gives Sophy structure and reasons to behave better and points out her observations to Guy. While he was well within his rights to dismiss her for lying to him, and nearly did so, Sophy needed stability and he was busy trying to figure out what the dukedom needed when he never expected to inherit the title.

The inevitable baddy driving Tessa and Guy apart isn't obvious at first glance, as there are stolen diaries, Tessa's lies, complicated family ties, and Sophy's tantrums to deal with. The two are attracted and intermittently act on it; Guy has been away from London long enough he doesn't care about whispers or propriety. Once everything comes together in the final third of the book, we see how much they care for each other, and that they're willing to face the world as long as they have each other. It's a great happily ever after, with both meeting as equals emotionally. It does help that there is a deus ex machina to make the marriage more "acceptable" to society, but that isn't the part that actually matters to either of them. The important part is love and family, exactly what they both needed.

Song of the Nile by Hannah Fielding

Song of the Nile
May 2021; London Wall; 9788366798038
ebook (616 pages); contemporary

Aida El Masri is a young nurse returning to Egypt from London in 1946. Eight years before, her father had been framed for a crime he didn’t commit and died. She hasn’t forgotten and plans to exact revenge against his best friend Kamel Phararony, who she believes had betrayed him. His son Phares proposes, and she’s attracted to him. How will she decide her future?

The language and descriptions are lyrical, with some Egyptian words added in. While we might think of the 1940s as old-fashioned now, Aida’s childhood home was even more conservative than London of that period. Upon returning home, her uncle wants her to marry Phares the way their fathers had discussed prior to her father’s death. While Aida wants to prove her father’s innocence, such an undertaking is looked down upon; proper ladies didn’t make waves or meddle in mens’ affairs. She catches the eye of not just Phares, but a prince that he hates. Aida is known as headstrong and stubborn, so the more that people tell her that her thoughts about Kamel are silly, the more she pushes back. It can be almost annoying how much she bristles at everyone and everything, though I don’t like Phares’ approach to her, either. Like many romance heroes, he recognizes his error and apologizes for it, which makes me like him a bit better.

Pacing is slow and more slice of life at the beginning of the book. That leads into a discussion of politics and the difference in class, as well as the desire to be free of British influence in the time period. With all of the characters having different viewpoints, it’s an interesting window into how people were affected. We also see how the truly rich and powerful treat others, which hasn’t really changed much from the current day, and how they can spin things to their advantage. I was angry on Aida’s behalf; as impulsive and na├»ve as she can be, that’s not an excuse for others to take advantage of her. There is intrigue and action in the second half of the novel, which had me racing through the pages. The jealous bits were uncomfortable to read, but everything tied together well at the end.

Buy Song of the Nile 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 a golden retriever.

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