One of the charms particular to the romance genre is the gorgeous sense of escape offered by good love stories. This especially applies to historical romances with a dash or two of danger, like Once a Scoundrel by Mary Jo Putney and For the Duke’s Eyes Only by Lenora Bell. These two fast-paced titles offer searing romance alongside dangerous plots in times gone by and faraway places. If you like your romance novels to leave you breathless in more ways than one, give these two a try.
STAKE YOUR CLAIM
Who doesn’t love a romance with an extra layer or two? Stories you have to excavate—pun intended—are the ones that keep you on the edge on your seat till the last page, or up late into the night. For lovers of these stories, I recommend For the Duke’s Eyes Only.
Lady India Rochester is a woman who knows what she wants. Her career as an archeologist means everything to her, and she is hell-bent on advancing that career, no matter what the Duke of Rochester, her childhood best friend and present mortal enemy, has to say about it. But when the Rosetta Stone itself is stolen, India may just have to square with the fact that two heads, and perhaps two hearts, are better than one.
The duke, on the other hand, may not be the monster India thinks he is. Daniel has spent his entire adult life carefully cultivating his public image as a womanizer and a rogue, all to cover up his relentless pursuit of a traitor to the Crown. This pursuit has cost him everything, even India. Although he still craves her, body and soul, he must put aside his feelings to solve a mystery with worldwide consequences.
What makes this novel exceptional is its masterful mix of red-hot seduction and earnest, respectful, good-hearted love with a strong foundation. My first thought after finishing this book was, “This couple really is the complete package.” Daniel and Indy share a past, a strong teamwork dynamic and a real friendship alongside their insane chemistry, making For the Duke’s Eyes Only a rare and essential title for any romance lover’s library.
SEDUCTION ON THE HIGH SEAS
Romance novels with a pirate theme have a delicate line to walk: They must be better than the offensive bodice-rippers of the past, but still provide readers with a high-stakes story. Once a Scoundrel manages both beautifully.
Lady Aurora “Rory” Lawrence is the very definition of a free spirit. She bucks her parents’ ideas of an advantageous marriage and spends most of her time gallivanting across the globe with her cousin. Her escapades land her in hot water (literally) when she is captured by Barbary pirates and held for ransom. Even though a young, dashing captain comes to her rescue, moving forward with her feelings for that captain may put her heart in a tougher situation than the one her life is in.
Gabriel Hawkins has hit a low point. Although he hails from a proud Naval legacy, he has very effectively managed to get himself cut off and disgraced. With nothing left to lose, he accepts the mission to rescue Rory. But if rescuing a headstrong lady is a feat, bringing their budding romance back to England will be the mission of a lifetime.
The third title in the Rogues Redeemed series, Once a Scoundrel is yet another product of Putney’s prolific romance career. Her books have graced numerous national bestseller lists and are known for their complexity and unflinching willingness to confront serious topics like substance abuse and domestic violence. Once a Scoundrel is no less bold of a story. Taking on human trafficking (or the threat thereof) is no easy task, but it makes the love story that blossoms from such a horrid situation that much more endearing. Gabriel is an ideal romantic protagonist. At one point, Rory praises him, saying, “You listen. A lot of men don’t listen much to women.” It’s commendation enough for any reader weary of big, strong, overly assertive fictional men.
Come for the adventure, stay for the romance. It’s a winning formula for both Once a Scoundrel and For the Duke’s Eyes Only.