It’s February—time for chocolates, hearts, flowers and romances! Our Valentine’s Day gift to you is a trio of books by rising stars.
WOUNDED HEARTS HEALED
If you love the popular television series “Victoria,” you’re certain to enjoy Never Dare A Wicked Earl. Twice a finalist for the coveted Golden Heart Award from Romance Writers of America, Renee Ann Miller makes her historical romance debut with the first in her Infamous Lords series.
Widower Hayden Milton, Earl of Westfield, has an infamous reputation. When an ex-mistress shoots him, medical student Sophia Camden is assigned to tend him as he recuperates. Hayden finds her annoying—and enticing. Sophia finds him exasperating—and handsome. He’s determined to shock her into resigning, while she’s equally determined to ignore his teasing. Their sickbed-set battle of wills forces them into near constant proximity, and both begin to open up to the other.
Both the hero and heroine have pasts darkened with loss, regret and guilt that hamper their ability to fall in love. These difficult beginnings lead to lots of engaging emotional conflict. Miller lightens the stressful moments with a delightful child, a hilarious dog, a harried sister and other equally charming secondary characters in Never Dare a Wicked Earl’s engrossing pages. This first novel will surely have readers looking forward to the second in the series.
ROMANCING THE CHEF
Everyone loves fabulous food. The terrific characters of More to Love, the latest romantic comedy from Alison Bliss, certainly do. The residents of Granite, Texas, flock to plus-size heroine Jessa Gibson’s food truck. Unfortunately, local electrician Max Hager discovers that Jessa’s mouthwatering food is about to put his favorite restaurant owner out of business. Outraged and determined to save the restaurant, Max comes up with what is arguably the worst scheme ever conceived. Posing as the local health inspector, he introduces himself to Jessa and begins listing violations of local rules. Jessa is taken aback at his odd, finicky comments but is also distracted by how cute the “inspector” is. Max is equally distracted by Jessa’s lush curves.
Although there are moments when a reader may wish Max would just man up and lay his cards on the table, Bliss gives him good reasons to hesitate. Max knows he should confess his charade, but before he can do so, things between him and the very sexy chef are careening out of control. The attraction between these two is off the charts. He’s in love and afraid to lose her; she’s in love and confused by his reticence. When the inevitable revelation occurs, will Max be able to keep both their hearts from breaking? The only things missing from this story are recipes for the wonderful dishes. Be warned—this one should be read with a snack close at hand.
SNARK AND SPARKS
Maggie Wells explores the wage gap and the world of college sports in her terrific new novel, Love Game.
Kate Snyder is a former Olympic gold medalist, WNBA all-star and current coach of the Wolcott University Warrior Women, a team she’s led to four national basketball championships. When the university hires famous but disgraced Danny McMillan to take the reins of the school’s low-ranked football team, Kate knows her contract negotiations are under threat. She expects to dislike the sports legend, but as she spends time with Danny, neither can deny the powerful connection that draws them together. Kate and Danny’s sexual chemistry is never in doubt, and Wells’ devotion to showing how much the pair enjoys and respects each other make the eventual payoff even sweeter.
Wells’ kickass heroine and confident hero trade witty banter and have some sigh-worthy sex scenes. Wells earns an A-plus, however, for creating a power couple that fully embodies being grown-up, intelligent adults who fall madly in love.
Lois Dyer writes from her home in Port Orchard, Washington.