Brainy, beautiful heroines are romance fan favorites, especially when their intelligence seduces the hero every bit as much as their lovely face. Who doesn’t love quick wit wrapped in a pretty package? These are our favorite romances with brilliant, mystery-solving leading ladies.
A DARING MASQUERADE
Lord of Lies is the third entry in the Fallen Ladies series from Wisconsin author Amy Sandas. When her sister is kidnapped, beautiful debutante Portia Chadwick seeks help from the mysterious man known as Nightshade.
Dell Turner grew up on the streets of London and earns his living helping clients with impossible situations. His persona as Nightshade is only one of his many artful disguises, and no one has ever seen past the illusion. Much to his shock, Lady Portia has an uncanny ability to recognize him, no matter the clever makeup and acting ability. He knows there’s no future between a highborn lady and a man of low birth whose work often skirts the edges of legality. Nevertheless, Dell finds Portia’s bravery, honesty, intelligence and beauty an irresistible lure. He believes their association will be brief, and they will soon part ways without harm to either of them.
Portia is equally intrigued and fascinated by the aura of danger that surrounds Dell. When her sister returns, Portia convinces Dell to extend their contract and investigate further, for her gut instinct tells her all is not yet safe with her world. Dell has never worked with a client who insists on being a part of his investigation, but Portia quickly proves an asset. When their inquiries unveil a shocking development, Dell fears allowing Portia to assist him may lead to her death. Can he keep her in his life, knowing she’s endangered? And how can Portia return to the placid life of society soirees after falling in love with the dangerous Nightshade and his shadowy world?
The plot twists are intriguing, and the details of both upper-class London and its gritty underbelly are fascinating, but it is the riveting characters that drive this excellent historical romance. Both Dell and Portia are passionate, honorable and stubborn; they are also uniquely, unexpectedly perfect for each other.
CRACKING THE CODE
New York Times bestselling author Julie Garwood returns to the world of the FBI with Wired. Allison Trent is a computer genius. Most people notice her beauty first and miss the amazing brain behind the pretty face. FBI agent Liam Scott isn’t one of those people—he seeks out Allison for her computer hacking skills. When she agrees to work with him to expose a mole inside his department, Liam knows he should lock down the attraction he feels for her. But he quickly learns that denying his feelings is easier said than done.
Their relationship grows steadily stronger and hotter, but as they search for the mole, the two soon discover that Allison is in danger. Is it the person that leaked confidential FBI information? Or is her would-be assassin someone from her rocky personal life? Her cousin is a criminal, her alcoholic uncle and his wife hate her, and her ex-roommate is trying to sell a unique computer program he stole from Allison.
This excellent romantic suspense novel nails every twist, turn and surprise. The romance between the genius heroine and brave hero is sometimes tender, always endearing and sizzles with sexual tension.
MATHEMATICIAN + DUKE
Academic librarian and author Manda Collins returns readers to Beauchamp House, England and the Studies in Scandal series in Duke With Benefits. Lady Daphne Forsyth is a brilliant mathematician and particularly adept at solving puzzles. She’s one of four uniquely talented young women who have inherited the estate of an independent woman who valued their intelligence. Daphne was instructed by the late owner to solve a puzzle and find the legendary Cameron Cypher, which is rumored to lead the finder to great riches. She’s continually distracted, however, by handsome Dalton Beauchamp, the Duke of Maitland. Dalton is entranced by the intelligent, blunt and outspoken Daphne, whose beauty is only exceeded by her amazing intellect. Daphne is equally attracted to Dalton, but her experience with her callous, dissipated father has her convinced that marriage is not for her. She wants to seduce the duke—he wants to marry her.
The couple appears at an impasse, but when a man is murdered in the library, Dalton is determined to solve the case, keep Daphne safe and help her find the Cameron Cypher. Neither anticipate just how difficult it will be to unravel the tangled web of deception and intrigue that threatens their very lives. Unmasking a killer and surviving will take all their combined wit and wisdom.
The Regency setting of the novel comes alive with historical detail, and Collins enhances the mystery plot with interesting twists. The hero and heroine seem an unlikely pair on the surface but in truth are a perfect match. Daphne has a genius IQ but lacks people skills, and Dalton is a model of gracious extroversion. And while intelligent, he is not a prodigy like Daphne. The genuine affection between the two is tender, and the sexual tension is smoldering. Duke with Benefits has all the elements romance readers love.
Lois Dyer writes from her home in Port Orchard, Washington.
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