If you’ve shopped till you dropped and ho-ho-ho’ed your way through hours of prep, take a well-deserved break from the hectic holiday season and curl up with a good book. We’ve found three wonderful romance novels with nary a Christmas wreath in sight that we’re sure will make you smile.
Loretta Chase begins her new Difficult Duke series with A Duke In Shining Armor. It’s June 1833, and a duke is about to be married. Unfortunately, the bride’s aunt has given her a ‘fortifying’ cup of brandy-laced tea. Lady Olympia Hightower drank the entire cup and is now certifiably tipsy. All the reasonable arguments for a marriage between herself, a titled bookish wallflower, and the duke, a disgraceful scoundrel but nonetheless, a duke, are hard to remember. Deciding she needs time to ponder her situation, she climbs out her window and runs off.
Hugh Philemon Ancaster, seventh Duke of Ripley and best man at the wedding, arrives just in time to see the bride disappear out the window. Taken aback, he does the only thing he can—he follows her. Given that Olympia’s usually pragmatic personality has been knocked askew by the brandy, she fails to notice that the handsome, rakish duke shouldn’t be accompanying an unchaperoned lady down the streets of London. Olympia is determined to travel to an aunt’s house to confer with her regarding the abandoned nuptials. Hugh is equally determined to accompany Olympia and convince her to return to marry his friend, for surely this is something a best man must do. They set off on an adventure that tests the limits of Olympia’s virtue and Hugh’s honorable intentions. Is there any possibility that a virtuous lady and a famous hellion can make a happy match? And what about Hugh’s best friend, drunkenly awaiting them back in London? Not to mention Olympia’s family and potentially scandalized friends? Oh, what a tangled web these two weave—and watching them extricate themselves is a delicious treat.
This wonderful novel boasts a marvelous tall, dark and exasperating hero and a brilliant, lovable heroine. The witty dialogue sparkles, the period details are authentic and vivid, and the cast of characters absolutely charming. Readers will love this start to what promises to be an excellent series.
FOR THIS GREEN CARD, I THEE WED
After six months of crushing on New York City subway musician Calvin McLoughlin, Holland Bakker finally musters the courage to speak to him. She mumbles; he replies in an Irish accent that stupefies her. Days later, she thinks of Calvin when her uncle, a Broadway producer, is stressing over the lack of a star for his show. Inspired, Holland drags her uncle down the stairs to the subway to see Calvin’s mesmerizing guitar playing. There’s an audition; Calvin’s performance enraptures the professional cast. An offer is made—and Calvin turns it down. Because the Irish citizen has an expired visa and he’s in the States illegally. When a snide cast member suggests Holland marry the guitarist, everyone rejects the idea. But after some consideration, Holland approaches Calvin. She knows she will have to conceal her deeper feelings but believes in his talent as much as she wants to help her uncle solve his casting dilemma. Holland is certain her attraction to the handsome, brilliant musician isn’t reciprocated. But when she discovers Calvin feels the same and their relationship grows daily more complicated, will her heart be broken when the musical’s run on Broadway ends?
Christina Lauren’s modern tale of a heroine’s search for real meaning in her life will make readers sigh, laugh and cheer. Holland is a young woman whose talents and strength are obvious to everyone except herself, and watching her come into her own is a delight.
BETROTHAL OR BUST
Beautiful American silver heiress Daisy Bumgarten is determined to capture a duke. She needs the cachet of marriage to an English peer to launch her three younger sisters into society. Her plan to attract the Duke of Meridian is going well when his younger brother, Lord Ashton Graham interferes. Ashton is handsome, charming and just what Daisy’s rebellious heart and body want. But Ashton isn’t the duke, and even worse, he’s openly determined to prevent Daisy’s marrying his brother. When the Duke’s aged relations demand Daisy provide proof of her family’s connection to the peerage, Ashton is assigned to verify her search. Together, they set out to track down birth records. What they find is astonishing, and Daisy will have to choose between following her heart or sticking stubbornly to her original plan.
Betina Krahn’s delightful A Good Day to Marry a Duke features a plucky, determined heroine and a handsome hero who’s cynical without tipping over into outright misanthropy. Both find their hearts overruling their sensible plans, and watching them struggle to find their way is a pleasure. With vivid historical details, a lively supporting cast and plenty of sexual heat, readers are certain to impatiently await the next title in the series.
Lois Dyer writes from her home in Port Orchard, Washington.