Lois Dyer

There are clearly no limits to the wildly creative genius of Ilona Andrews, and never has that literary imagination been more evident than in Magic Triumphs, the tenth and final novel in the Kate Daniels series.

Kate’s dangerous father is up to his old tricks—this time he’s scheming to gain access to Kate and Curran’s toddler son. Kate has more than her difficult parent to deal with, however, because an ancient and powerful enemy has challenged her. Atlanta residents are being attacked, disappearing and dying. The Pack of shape shifters once ruled by Curran, the People who control vampires, the Witches and their Oracle, the Mercenary Guild and all the rest of Kate’s friends with supernatural powers will stand with her. But they may not be enough to stop the strongest threat Kate has ever faced.

While Kate and Curran race to save their world, they are also fully engaged with parenting. Their son Conlan is a precocious 13-month-old with the ability to shape shift into a young lion. The magically gifted toddler’s hilarious antics add a layer of Andrews’ trademark humor to the constant danger. Kate and Curran will do whatever is necessary to keep their son safe, but neither anticipated the alliances they will be forced to make. When an old enemy steps forward to join them against the ancient evil, Kate has to take a leap of faith. Even her father’s offer of aid must be considered. If Kate, her family, her friends and her Atlanta are to survive, she must commit to a plan that even she isn’t sure will succeed. There are no guarantees that everyone will survive, or that Kate and everyone she loves won’t burn to the ground along with the city of Atlanta.

This tenth novel completes the arc of the Kate Daniels adventures but readers are left with an inkling that they may see more stories set in this world. Perhaps Kate’s Aunt Erra and her adopted daughter Julie will carry on the tradition of hair-raising action. Readers will surely be anxiously awaiting further developments from the amazing Andrews.

There are clearly no limits to the wildly creative genius of Ilona Andrews, and never has that literary imagination been more evident than in Magic Triumphs, the tenth and final novel in the Kate Daniels series.

Seasoned romance author Jane Ashford’s stellar writing is on full display in Brave New Earl. This first book in her new series, The Way to a Lord’s Heart, introduces the delightful premise of a British earl who is determined to nudge, scheme and settle his four younger male acquaintances into happy domestic bliss. Not that the four would have agreed, had they known about the older gentleman’s plans. Nevertheless, the matchmaker moves calmly forward with his objective.

The Earl’s first target is his nephew Benjamin Romilly. After losing his wife in childbirth five years earlier, Benjamin’s broken heart has refused to heal and his son is growing up with scant supervision or attention from his grieving father. When Miss Jean Saunders, a distant cousin of Benjamin’s late wife, learns of the little boy’s lack of parental care, she vows to intercede. A survivor of a cruel and abusive childhood herself, Jean cannot bear to abandon the child to an uncaring parent.

Arriving uninvited at Benjamin’s estate, Jean is surprised to discover that the Earl is handsome and charming, but plagued by reclusive habits and stubborn grief. Five-year-old Geoffrey is even more of a shock as he’s wildly undisciplined, but imaginative and intellectually brilliant. Ashford’s vivid descriptions of the little boy and his outrageous antics, alongside with his often heartbreaking reactions to adult interaction, add a deeper emotional layer to the novel. Jean’s original plan to swoop in, collect Geoffrey and convey him to his grandparents’ care in London is clearly not going to succeed. Ever adaptable, Jean settles in for a long visit, vowing to solve the family complications.

For Benjamin, it’s as if Jean’s arrival wakes him from a long twilight, and he gradually becomes aware of the impact his protracted grieving has had on his son. He has a lot of work to do to regain lost ground with Geoffrey, not to mention deciding how to cope with the astonishing appeal of Miss Saunders. But just because Benjamin is finally ready to engage with the world, Jean is not ready to become involved on a romantic level with Benjamin. Though their attraction is both mutual and powerful, Jean is terrified of intimacy. Her own difficult childhood has left scars, just as Benjamin’s grief has marked him. If these two can reach a happy future together, it will not be an easy journey. Readers will be charmed by Ashford’s writing and will thoroughly enjoy observing these two honorable, wonderful people as they struggle to reach the happiness they both clearly deserve.

 

Lois Dyer writes from her home in Port Orchard, Washington.

Seasoned romance author Jane Ashford’s stellar writing is on full display in Brave New Earl. This first book in her new series, The Way to a Lord’s Heart, introduces the delightful premise of a British earl who is determined to nudge, scheme and settle his four younger male acquaintances into happy domestic bliss. Not that the four would have agreed, had they known about the older gentleman’s plans. Nevertheless, the matchmaker moves calmly forward with his objective.

Maisey Yates gives readers a twist on the friends-to-lovers trope by adding layers of negative family history on both sides, considerably raising the emotional stakes in her latest romance, Untamed Cowboy. Kaylee Capshaw has been in love with Bennett Dodge since she was 13, but to protect her heart, she never pursued him. She’s struggled to cope with unrequited feelings ever since, even as the best friends share a veterinary practice in rural Gold Valley, Oregon. Kaylee has psychological reasons to keep her attraction to Bennett a secret—her parents’ marriage was a disaster and Kaylee was constantly aware she was unwanted and unloved. Her friendship with Bennett is important to her and Yates develops a long, comfortable, affectionate history between them.

After his mother’s death when he was a child, followed by too many stepmothers to count, Bennett has followed a strict plan for his life that ensures a quiet, well-organized existence. Powerful emotion isn’t allowed and he’s unaware that he subconsciously, purposefully, never considered Kaylee as a potential girlfriend. When his sensible fiancée breaks off their engagement and immediately falls in love with another man, Bennett is at loose ends. He’s disappointed but thinks he’s coping with the situation as well as could be expected. But then his regimented life is hit by a bombshell when a social worker arrives on his doorstep with the son he didn’t know existed.

Bennett’s determined to meet the challenge of fatherhood and turns to Kaylee for support. While they’re taking a break from their worries at a bar one night, she bluntly tells him that if he’s looking for a hookup, she’ll volunteer. He’s shocked but also instantly, overwhelmingly, in favor of the idea. Neither of them expected their reckless decision to have such far-reaching consequences. Their connection is earthshaking, laying bare all the emotions they’ve both denied for years, and they’re both knocked off kilter. Yates does an excellent job of painting two honest, vulnerable people who are each carrying a ton of baggage from their childhoods. Nevertheless, they are equally determined to find their way past their scarred psyches to secure a future together.

 

Lois Dyer writes from her home in Port Orchard, Washington.

Maisey Yates gives readers a twist on the friends-to-lovers trope by adding layers of negative family history on both sides, considerably raising the emotional stakes in her latest romance, Untamed Cowboy. Kaylee Capshaw has been in love with Bennett Dodge since she was 13, but to protect her heart, she never pursued him. She’s struggled to cope with unrequited feelings ever since, even as the best friends share a veterinary practice in rural Gold Valley, Oregon. Kaylee has psychological reasons to keep her attraction to Bennett a secret—her parents’ marriage was a disaster and Kaylee was constantly aware she was unwanted and unloved. Her friendship with Bennett is important to her and Yates develops a long, comfortable, affectionate history between them.

Katharine Ashe transports readers to Edinburgh, Scotland, for The Prince, the fourth entry in her Devil’s Duke series. There is much to enjoy in this wonderful novel, including the beautiful city of Edinburgh, the intriguing historical details and all the twists and turns of a murder mystery steeped in danger. But the shining stars of this romance novel are its unique main characters.

Elizabeth Shaw is the brilliant daughter of a respected physician in Edinburgh. Determined to become a member of the city’s Royal College of Surgeons, she’s stymied at every turn, as the medical school will only accept men. When her father accepts a year-long appointment in London, leaving Elizabeth to stay in Scotland with friends, she embraces the opportunity to launch a plan. Dressed as a male, she attends a public surgical dissection. None of the other students seated with her in the theater balcony see through her disguise. One observer in the general audience, however, recognizes her immediately. Gifted portraitist Ziyaeddin met Libby Shaw only once, two years earlier, but he has never forgotten her. In fact, he’s still fascinated by the shape of her lips—and everything else about her. The artist in him instantly sees the woman beneath her disguise of male clothing and glued-on facial whiskers.

Worried at first that Ziyaeddin will expose her charade, Libby soon conceives a plan that requires his cooperation. Ziyaeddin is stunned when she arrives on his doorstep and declares she will agree to sit for a portrait if he will allow her to live in his home and pose as a male student. He refuses at first, for the plan is wildly outrageous. But after some consideration, he accepts. He has never met a woman with Libby’s fierce determination, blunt honesty and brilliant mind. She clearly must be a surgeon, and, just as clearly, he must aid her. Ziyaeddin is well aware that he’s breaking society’s rules. He doesn’t care.

Thus begins a deeply emotional and fascinating journey for these two amazing individuals. Ashe delves into the complicated lives of both Libby and Ziyaeddin. Libby has OCD and struggles to balance her compulsions with her commitment to medicine. Ziyaeddin was born a prince of the (fictional) Middle Eastern country Tabir, but was ripped away from his birthright as a child. Saved by a benefactor, he was trained by a gifted artist, only to be later enslaved and scarred by the amputation of a foot. Rescue by a duke brought him to Edinburgh, where his portraits have brought him both fame and fortune. When Ziyaeddin and Libby begin to live in the same house, sharing daily life, the sexual tension between them is strong and grows more powerful by the week. Ashe amplifies the slow burn of attraction between them, focusing on how their genuine respect for each other rises with every interaction.

Added to the suspense of the ever-present possibility that Libby’s disguise may be uncovered is a very real threat to her life when she realizes someone in the college is selling cadavers for profit and possibly committing murder to satisfy demand. Ziyaeddin is terrified Libby will be harmed by the threats that surround her but knows that perhaps it is he, himself, who poses the greatest threat to her happiness. The steady, careful character development Ashe devoted herself to earlier in the novel pays off in spades, as readers will find themselves desperately anxious that these two amazing people find their way to happily ever after.

 

Lois Dyer writes from her home in Port Orchard, Washington.

Katharine Ashe transports readers to Edinburgh, Scotland, for The Prince, the fourth entry in her Devil’s Duke series. There is much to enjoy in this wonderful novel, including the beautiful city of Edinburgh, the intriguing historical details and the twists and turns of a murder mystery steeped in danger. But the shining stars of this romance novel are its unique main characters.

Cheris Hodges pairs a New York businessman and a Southern entrepreneur in her latest novel, Strategic Seduction. Comparisons between the North and South fly thick and fast, most noticeably when the pair is sampling mouthwatering food. Readers will find themselves craving a trip to Georgia just to visit the restaurants, diners and coffee shops mentioned in this smart contemporary romance.

When Alicia Michaels returns to Atlanta to launch her new PR company, she doesn’t expect to meet the man of her dreams. Especially when said man is newly divorced Richmond Crawford, a wealthy New Yorker and the brother-in-law of one of Alicia’s best friends. Both she and Richmond have plenty to prove—Richmond with his first solo hotel project for the family corporation, and Alicia with the launch of her own firm. Neither is looking for love, and both have an abundance of emotional baggage that makes them cynical and wary.

The novel’s supporting cast of characters includes a group of hilarious, successful girlfriends whom Alicia considers sisters. They worry about her dating a man who’s so recently divorced, and given the scheming nature of Richmond’s ex, it’s soon clear the friends have cause for concern. The reappearance of his avaricious ex-wife heightens the tension and further threatens the couple’s hopes for a happy ending. In the end, however, a loving future is more dependent on Alicia conquering her own insecurities than a threat from any outside force. When unexpected news shocks Alicia and Richmond, both will have to face life-changing choices before they can finally put their pasts to rest and embrace a bright tomorrow.

 

Lois Dyer writes from her home in Port Orchard, Washington.

Cheris Hodges pairs a New York businessman and a Southern entrepreneur in her latest novel, Strategic Seduction. Comparisons between the North and South fly thick and fast, most noticeably when the pair is sampling mouthwatering food. Readers will find themselves craving a trip to Georgia just to visit the restaurants, diners and coffee shops mentioned in this smart contemporary romance.

Shelly Laurenston’s world of shape-shifters is hilarious, sexy, often casually violent and always absolutely fascinating. The latest novel in the series, Hot and Badgered, features a vicious, dangerous honey badger shifter and the amiable grizzly bear shifter who can’t resist her. Who knew romance could involve so much mayhem and so many laugh-out-loud moments?

Honey badger shifter Charlie Taylor-MacKilligan and her two younger half-sisters are each uniquely talented and trained to kill. They’ve had each other’s backs since they were children. When someone attacks Charlie in Switzerland, she knows her estranged criminal father must be at the heart of the plot. She escapes to a nearby hotel room where a big, handsome grizzly shifter helps her escape. Charlie and her sisters head for New York City, where their father is allegedly in the city morgue. Unfortunately, the morgue has the wrong man, a discovery that Charlie finds intensely irritating.

Holed up in a cousin’s safe house, the sisters discover their cousin is friends with Berg Dunn, the grizzly shifter who saved Charlie in Switzerland. Berg was impressed with Charlie’s handling of her would-be assassins and wants to spend more time with her. He finds the sisters a safe house on his street in an all-bear neighborhood. The three sisters fascinate and delight the bears, especially since Charlie bakes when stressed and the bears can gorge themselves on her cakes and pies. Plus, she bakes with honey. It’s a win-win situation—now Charlie and her sisters have multiple big human protectors who are 1,000 pounds of pure mean when shifted into their bear forms.

For the first time, the MacKilligan sisters aren’t alone, and while having a gang of bears defending them is unusual, they kind of like it. Plus, Charlie more than likes Berg and the feeling is mutual. The two make the most of their stolen moments together in between fending off murder attempts, kidnapping attempts and the sisters’ introduction to the world of NYC shape-shifters. There are fisticuffs in a hockey rink, a brawl with female wolverines, a furious Charlie taking down two of the best enforcers in the shifter military unit and other violent, slapstick escapades. The plot zips along with surprising twists, turns and fearless honey badger bravery. That the almost nonstop action also allows for excellent character development and lots of snarky humor is a testament to Laurenston’s skills.

 

Lois Dyer writes from her home in Port Orchard, Washington.

Shelly Laurenston’s world of shape shifters is hilarious, sexy, often casually violent and always absolutely fascinating. The latest novel in the series, Hot and Badgered, features a vicious, dangerous honey badger shifter and the amiable grizzly bear shifter who can’t resist her. Who knew romance could involve so much mayhem and so many laugh-out-loud moments?

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