★ Once a Spy
Love and danger breathtakingly intertwine in Once a Spy by Mary Jo Putney. Following Napoleon’s abdication, world-weary soldier Simon Duval resigns from the British army and tracks down his second cousin’s widow, Suzanne. Feeling an instant connection, Simon suggests a marriage of companionship. Simon and Suzanne are mature characters who have experienced the world and its tragedies, making their growing romance both moving and sweet. When danger threatens their lives, readers will root for this couple and their hard-won wisdom and open hearts. Putney’s depiction of the days surrounding the Battle of Waterloo is thrilling and adds just the right amount of historical detail to this superlative romance.
Debut author Sarah Smith pens a fresh and charming take on enemies-to-lovers in Faker. Emmie Echavarre tries to maintain a tough persona at work, including keeping a stoic expression around her co-worker Tate Rasmussen. As much as she finds him physically appealing, he excels at annoying her from his office across the hall. But all that changes when an accident gives Tate the opportunity to show Emmie who he really is—and sparks of a different sort fly between them. Told in Emmie’s energetic voice, this romance depicts all the complexity and awkwardness of getting to know another person. Emmie and Tate must fight off misunderstandings and past hurts to truly become a couple. This egalitarian office romance feels both contemporary and classic (and the steamy love scenes give it an extra edge).
The Orchid Throne
An enchanting world awaits in The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy. It’s the story of Euthalia, queen of Calanthe, who has bought her people’s independence by promising to marry a brutal emperor. But that promise is threatened when the rebel King of the Slaves, Conrí, arrives to tell Euthalia about her part in a fateful prophecy. With detailed world building and an intriguing cast of characters—especially a warrior woman and an enigmatic and amusing wizard—this captivating story will have readers holding their breath while Lia and Con come to terms with a partnership that neither expected. This is a fantasy romance with an exciting and entertaining blend of politics, swashbuckling and sensual fire.