Friends always make better lovers. It’s probably a scientific fact, somewhere. But in the world of romance, it’s a truth that can be proven time and again. Lovers come in all shapes and sizes, for any length of time, but if you want a lasting relationship with staying power, friendship is the key. (And apparently, being named “Hunter” also helps.)
Connie Mann kicks off her new Florida Wildlife Warriors series with Beyond Risk, a satisfying mystery with a robust cast of characters, a small-town feel and the wild, adventurous forest around the Ocklawaha River. But what really sets it apart is the tight camaraderie of the Tanner family, and the friendship between Charlee Tanner and Hunter Boudreau that develops with natural grace into a satisfying romance.
The story opens on the one-year anniversary of a tragic paddling trip Charlee led, in which someone drowned. Her big family of law enforcement and Fish and Wildlife Conservation (FWC) officers are on hand to usher her off on a new paddling adventure, but it’s Hunter’s presence that she’s most drawn to, as “he’d also stood between her and the world, giving her a safe space to heal.” If only the big, bad, former Marine and FWC hottie could keep that barrier between her and the world, he might be able to save her from a stalker before her life flips upside down again. Mann proves that she knows her subject matter by interjecting as many dangers from the natural world—snakes, alligators and the river itself—as from violent offenders, but she also fills the story with so many characters that it’s sometimes difficult to keep up. Look beyond the multitude of clients, family and community members and focus on the easy way Charlee and Hunter migrate from friends to lovers. There’s nothing risky about that.
Lora Leigh and Veronica Chadwick dish up another friends-to-lovers romantic suspense in One Tough Cowboy, a love story between a sexy cowboy and the girl that got away.
In this instance, the sexy cowboy, Hunter Steele, is also a sexy small-town sheriff and the girl that got away is Samantha Ryder, who moved to Detroit with her family at eleven and is now a police officer. After three deaths in Deerhaven, California, Hunter and Samantha reunite. One of the dead is his uncle, another is her aunt, but all three victims have died from suspicious, supposedly accidental pain medication overdoses. The similarities are just too coincidental for them to be random, and with the mayor’s wife being the third victim, it all adds up to some serious small-town corruption. Chadwick is a new to this reviewer, but Leigh’s trademark drama and sexy romance is easily identifiable and as heart racing as ever. The pair’s Moving Violations series is off to a red hot start.
So if you don’t want to just “love the one you’re with,” look a little deeper into those you consider your closest friends. Could be true love’s been with you all along. And if you find someone named Hunter, grab him!