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March 21, 2022

4 Romance Novels to Fall in Love With

by MK French

Spring is here and romance is in the air. If you are looking for love in the pages of your next read, then here are 4 romance novels you must read. The first two are available now and you will want to pre-order the last two books so you don't miss them.

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

A Ballad of Love and Glory by Reyna Grande

book cover of historical romance A Ballad of Love and Glory by Reyna Grande
March 2022; Atria Books; 978-1982165260
audio, ebook, print (384 pages); historical romance

In 1846 Texas, Ximena Salomé's husband was killed by Texas Rangers. With her dream of a quiet life at an end, she turned to being an Army nurse. At the same time, John Reilly deserted the Yankee army after growing disillusioned with the atrocities his nativist comrades perform. He forms the St. Patrick's Battalion to help fight for México's freedom. John and Ximena meet, their love growing as the war does.

The Yankee army was built up from different immigrant groups, and the "native" officers looked down on them, belittled and shamed them at every chance they got, and underpaid them for the continuous effort they demanded. It's no surprise that many deserted for Mexico when they promised fairness and higher wages. John tried to hold onto his honor, but ultimately he endured too much torment. Ximena learned herbalism from her grandmother and had premonitions that went ignored; Texans, Tejano, and the US Army were all concerned about the same territory and revenge for past slights. It's a world of danger and fear, skating the knife-edge of war. It's always the poor that are affected by war and the devastation left in its wake.

I hadn't known at all about the battalions of deserters from the early US Army that fought for Mexico, and this novel fleshed out the indignities they suffered, the damage rendered by the war, and the torment when it was lost. (Not exactly a spoiler on that, we have Texas, New Mexico, and California as a result of winning it.) Many of the characters are based on real people, though little is known about the lives they actually led. 

An Affair by the Sea by Erica Ridley

book cover of Regency romance An Affair by the Sea by Erica Ridley
March 2022; Indie; 979-8422518913
ebook, print (206 pages); Regency romance

Allegra Brown is the orphaned poor relation acting as a governess to her younger cousins. She told them about her conveniently absent and fictional fiance, the pirate Captain L'Amour. Mr. John Sharp is a stickler and lover of order, fearsome in the courtroom but not in the kitchen. He's nothing like a pirate, but can he still find a future with Allegra?

This is the second book of the Siren's Retreat quartet, a series of four novellas taking place at the Brighton inn. Erica Ridley wrote this and the fourth novella, while Grace Burrowes wrote the other two. (I couldn't find her novels on Netgalley, only Erica Ridley's ) I enjoy Erica's other work, so I was eager to see how it translated to linked novellas. 

This was as sweet as one of the desserts that John wanted to make. He left a perfectly good law practice to chase his dream of becoming a chef, and a kitchen disaster of Epic proportions drove him from London entirely. Allegra had invented a fantasy love, and her cousins accepted her stories to a point. It's funny to read their reactions to John, imagining him as a pirate, and trying to figure out ways to leave the two alone together. They had an immediate physical attraction, grew to like each other, and were more than happy to support each other's dreams. As with every romance, that's a perfect happily ever after. 

Buy An Affair by the Sea at Amazon

Her Favorite Rebound by Jackie Lau

book cover of romantic comedy Her Favorite Rebound by Jackie Lau
March 2022; Jackie Lau Books; ebook (242 pages)

Sierra Wu feels like a disappointment in her family. She's 34, divorced, and left her engineering career to run a greeting card store. Local billionaire Colton Sanders sweeps her off her feet, but Jake Tong keeps telling her to break up with Colton. Even after she disagrees, the two keep bumping into each other and their attraction grows.

As the fourth Cider Bar Sisters book, we do see characters that starred in earlier ones. (#1 Her Big City Neighbor, #2 His Grumpy Childhood Friend [read my review], and #3  [read my review]) These professionals in Baldwin Village, a trendy Toronto neighborhood, are friends and have immigrant families. The grandparent generation is adorably idiosyncratic in other books, though Sierra's have dementia, which tempers that. Her family tends to pick on her, unfavorably comparing her to her engineer brother or doctor cousin. Sierra is far more comfortable with her friends, who she regularly meets at the cider bar.

As a billionaire, Colton frequently takes calls and goes to business meetings in the middle of dates. He believes in constantly achieving more, while Sierra loves her tiny store even though it might not make a lot of money. They have a relationship in spite of their differences, but Jake telling her that she's too good for Colton plants a seed that makes her see those differences more than she used to. We also see some of those things for ourselves before the obvious proof that Sierra can't ignore comes, which makes Jake her immediate rebound.

Buy Her Favorite Rebound at Amazon

Savage City by L. Penelope

book cover of romantic fantasy Savage City by L. Penelope
March 2022; Heartspell Media; 978-1944744274
audio, ebook, print (272 pages); romantic fantasy

Talia dies in an accident but wakes in the middle of a war between the Nimali and Fai. The Nimali believe she's their missing princess, and the dragon king looks exactly like her father. Finally receiving love and affection, Talia plays along and pretends to be the shifter princess. Ryin is a Fai warrior plotting the downfall of the Nimali even as he's conscripted to work for them. The attraction between the two is irresistible and will either destroy them or save them.

King Lyall is temperamental, with his one redeeming feature his love for his daughter. His emotional whiplash means the subjects fear him, and he's cruel to Nimali and Fai alike, though, of course, he sees the Fai as lesser beings. The technology of the Nimali runs on Bliss, derived from spirit energy, and does get mined and used up. This is a large part of the war between the people, as the Fai hold Bliss in reverence, and deny the Nimali access to their supply. Isn't it always down to resources and allocation?

The world is a mystical overlay to ours, and the different cultures are seen and learned about through Talia. As dangerous as it is to pretend to be the princess, that also allowed her to survive. The Nimali hoard resources and supplies of all kinds; our first introduction to the king is his condemnation of a former citizen of his city getting rations from a current citizen that results in death and expulsion from safety. It only adds to the hate and fear, clearly the way he established his power in the first place. Having a spirit bonded to him should have prevented him from killing and threatening indiscriminately, but Lyall uses his power to intimidate, and ultimately his plan to obliterate his enemies.

This is the first book in the Bliss Wars series. This novel is complete on its own, with a hook for more coming up. It's a fascinating world, and one with people I really enjoyed reading about.

Buy Savage City 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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