STARRED REVIEW
June 05, 2018

Sizzling summer flings

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Summer is here, and that means ’tis the season for fun, sexy reads you can take to the beach, the back porch or your dream vacation spot. This trio of fresh, fast-paced romance offerings couldn’t be more different from one another, and they are all standouts of the genre—so they’re sure to steam up your summer and keep the season exciting.

STARRED REVIEW
June 05, 2018

Sizzling summer flings

Feature by

Summer is here, and that means ’tis the season for fun, sexy reads you can take to the beach, the back porch or your dream vacation spot. This trio of fresh, fast-paced romance offerings couldn’t be more different from one another, and they are all standouts of the genre—so they’re sure to steam up your summer and keep the season exciting.

June 05, 2018

Sizzling summer flings

Feature by

Summer is here, and that means ’tis the season for fun, sexy reads you can take to the beach, the back porch or your dream vacation spot. This trio of fresh, fast-paced romance offerings couldn’t be more different from one another, and they are all standouts of the genre—so they’re sure to steam up your summer and keep the season exciting.

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Summer is here, and that means ’tis the season for fun, sexy reads you can take to the beach, the back porch or your dream vacation spot. This trio of fresh, fast-paced romance offerings couldn’t be more different from one another, and they are all standouts of the genre—so they’re sure to steam up your summer and keep the season exciting.

LAW AND ORDER
Henry Garrison has earned infamy and the nickname “Monster of Manhattan” due to his ruthless style in the courtroom and his media-documented personal demons. When he retreats to his cherished childhood home in Martha’s Vineyard for some solitude, the last thing he’s expecting is the beautiful, vibrant Win Hughes who—quite literally—topples into his broken world.

Win is everything Henry is missing. She is kind, vivacious and drop-dead stunning to boot. Beyond all that, she is emerging from her own battle that has left her scarred and vulnerable. Win and Henry are two of a kind, and the spark between them grows quickly to a blaze, until they mutually choose to stifle it in favor of moving on.

However, Win is not who Henry believes she is, and her past soon comes to light when her best friend is murdered at a very public celebrity function. Win needs a lawyer, and she knows just where to turn. Now Henry must come to terms with her new identity and what it means for the two of them.

Order of Protection is a fresh, expertly crafted novel that deftly walks the line between a good mystery and a mouthwatering romance. That is to be expected from an author like Lexi Blake, one of the most prolific and accomplished authors of the genre, who has a series for every taste, fantasy and desire.

What makes this novel a standout, however, is the constant innovation present in the story and in the chemistry between the leading couple. Every moment they share is taut but genuine, and never over-simplified or trite. The pace is engaging—this is as much a murder mystery as it is a love story. It takes a truly excellent writer to develop endearing characters that feel like real people, never mere plot devices. Pick up Order of Protection to make those long, lazy summer days sizzle.

SMALL-TOWN SWEETHEARTS
The best romance novels star the most unexpected protagonists, and a PTA mom is about as unexpected as it gets. The latest installment in the Hellcat Canyon novels, The First Time at Firelight Falls envelops readers in the kind of everyday love we all dream about, while elevating stakes and heart rates alike.

Eden Harwood has been juggling motherhood, a career and her family for the blissful 10 years since her daughter, Annelise, was born. As her life stabilizes and she and Annelise learn together what happiness looks like, Eden can’t imagine adding one more thing to her to-do list. Except, of course, for Gabe Caldera, her daughter’s mouthwatering ex-Navy SEAL principal.

Gabe is equally drawn to Eden, and he soon makes it clear that he wants to be part of the gorgeous redhead’s life. Unfortunately, new love is delicate, and it isn’t long before a figure from Eden’s past comes into the picture, forcing her to re-evaluate her own happiness, her daughter’s and that of her newfound beau.

What makes The First Time at Firelight Falls truly unique is author Julie Anne Long’s sparkling voice. The tone is light and sassy (Long is genuinely hilarious), the writing is insightful, and the whole novel is infused with important lessons on how vital it is to fill our lives with love from all sources—family, friends and, yes, lovers. Side note: This is the first romance novel I have ever read that made me go, “Oh, this was written by a woman, and thank God for that.” The ego trips and male posturing of the men in Eden’s life are punctured by some truly hilarious jokes, and are not tolerated or glorified for one moment.

Long ordinarily writes sumptuous historical romances, and her Hellcat Canyon books are a delicious foray into the contemporary side of the genre. The First Time at Firelight Falls is a fresh, funny, essential read for the summer bookshelf of the everyday romantic.

HIGHLAND FLING
A good romance novel gives its readers a great atmosphere, and Laird of the Black Isle proves the point flawlessly. Paula Quinn’s latest novel of the Highlands sweeps readers into a high-stakes encounter between a cold, formidable nobleman and a tempestuous young woman.

Since tragedy befell his family, Lachlan MacKenzie has needed nobody and nothing. He is a mystery to his people and takes comfort in the solitary existence he has carefully constructed for himself. That is, until he receives word that he may have a chance to right the wrongs of his past. All he has to do is kidnap a young woman of the MacGregor clan—an easy mission for a warrior like Lachlan.

Or so he believes, until he takes Mailie MacGregor hostage and gets far, far more than he bargained for. Mailie is breathtakingly beautiful, with a fierce spirit to match. She resolves to fight her captor with everything she has and to return home to her loved ones as quickly as possible. The longer the two of them are together, however, the more Mailie finds that her Highland kidnapper may not be the only one who’s caught off guard.

Quinn is well-seasoned in the art of the Highland romance novel. Her books are lush, detailed and irresistibly sexy. Laird of the Black Isle features one of the most engaging heroines of the genre, but more than the fiery, lovable characters, this story makes readers really and truly care. Almost every character here is deeply devoted to their family, and this theme lends the narrative a warm, engaging depth. A small note for those looking to devour this book the way I did: Because Quinn is incredibly dedicated to authenticity, this book is written phonetically. Words are spelled as they sound in a Scottish accent, and this particular detail may take some getting used to. But for anyone yearning after a summer read that’s hotter than the temperature outside, look no further than Laird of the Black Isle.

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