Susan Mallery hits all the romance sweet notes in Why Not Tonight. Part-time gallery manager Natalie Kaleta braves an epic storm to check up on reclusive artist Ronan Mitchell and ends up stranded at his mountainside home. The circumstances allow them to become better acquainted—and to acknowledge their simmering desire. A relationship wouldn’t be a bad thing, they decide, as long as it remains casual. But that’s not as easy as it sounds, even though Ronan has good reasons to resist getting serious. Returning to the charming community of Happily Inc. is like dropping in on old friends for coffee and cookies. Mallery’s breezy narrative and knack for penning good-humored dialogue pair well with a story in which the stakes are no more dire than healing hearts. Why Not Tonight arrives blissfully at the kind of happy-ever-after that every romance reader treasures.
The suspense is chilling and the romance is hot in Rebecca Zanetti’s Hidden. Former undercover cop Malcolm West needs to recuperate from the mental and physical pain caused by his last assignment, so he moves to a small rural community where the most exciting part of his day is catching a glimpse of his shy, pretty neighbor Pippa. But almost immediately, a secretive government team recruits him to investigate a dangerous cult that the woman next door used to belong to. It’s not clear whether Pippa is in danger or is a danger, but Mal can’t control the attraction he feels for her. It’s mutual, and even though they are slow to trust, Pippa and Mal quickly find themselves in a passionate relationship. The start of a new series, Hidden stars flawed, freshly wounded characters. The ticking-clock plot stretches the nerves, but Zanetti balances this with touches of humor—a dog in high heels!—and the burgeoning bond between lovers in her engrossing, entertaining read.
TOP PICK IN ROMANCE
A most intriguing romance is found in the pages of Lady of a Thousand Treasures by Sandra Byrd. In Victorian England, Eleanor Sheffield continues the family business of appraising art and antiquities. But times are hard—her father has died, her uncle is ailing, an employee seems deceptive, and the man she thought she loved, Harry Lydney, has been in Italy far longer than expected. But Eleanor is determined to earn the trust of her clients and to repair her relationship with Harry when he finally returns from Europe. Told in first person, this standout romance is spiced with fascinating descriptions of treasures and the details of how such items are evaluated. Cameos by real historical characters add another layer of interest. Eleanor is a stalwart heroine who works through the steadily compounding tension as she wrestles with her Christian faith. Readers will root for Eleanor to overcome her difficulties and for Harry and her to find their ultimate reward in each other.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read our Q&A with Sandra Byrd about Lady of a Thousand Treasures.