From a fantasy kingdom to a scientific outpost to a not-exactly-dream wedding, these five new romances feature settings to sink into.
★ A Heart of Blood and Ashes
Milla Vane tells an engrossing, epic story of warriors, gods, leaders and lovers in A Heart of Blood and Ashes. Commander Maddek learns of his parents’ wrongful deaths and seeks to avenge them while finding a way to keep an alliance of countries together. At his side and at his mercy is the daughter of the very king involved in the murders. Yvenne claims Maddek’s mother had approved their marriage before her father betrayed them, but he’s unconvinced someone so small and weak could be his mother’s choice. But Maddek comes to realize that Yvenne may be his own choice for a life partner—if they can survive. The characters walk through the pages with heart, soul and courage, and are matched by Vane’s equally stellar world building, which weaves seamlessly with thrilling action scenes. Be aware that Vane’s fantasy world contains some raw, grim elements, but this Heart is one to sink into!
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Thrills and (literal) chills are hallmarks of Adriana Anders’ Whiteout. Antarctica serves as an exciting location for this romantic suspense story in which a chef and a scientist must survive a life-and-death trek to safety. Angel Smith has been eyeing glaciologist Ford Cooper during her gig at a remote research station, but she’s made no headway with the “Ice Man” as her return to the U.S. approaches. But after a sudden attack on the station, Angel and Ford are left alone to trek for miles through the unforgiving landscape. With only each other to rely on, the pair finds a passion that keeps their bodies heated and their will to live primed. Riveting action and fascinating glimpses into life at a research station and what it takes to survive the harsh climate make this superb page turner stand out.
The Worst Best Man
A wedding planner rom-com is the very definition of romantic fun, and Mia Sosa doesn’t disappoint with The Worst Best Man. Three years ago, Max Hartley had to explain to his brother’s bride, Lina Santos, that the wedding was off. Fast-forward to the present, and the pair must work together to secure a lucrative new business deal for them both. Lina, who has built walls to contain her emotions, vows that nothing will stand in her way, and Max is sure his easy-breezy personality will see them through. But as they work together toward a common goal, Max begins to see Lina as more than just a business partner, despite their tangled pasts and her determination to protect herself. Sosa’s romance also addresses issues of work and family, and touches on the challenges facing women of color in business. The pages smoke from time to time, but this is essentially a sweet, light confection for the Valentine’s Day season.
Seduce Me With Sapphires
A Victorian-era aristocrat breaks through class walls in Seduce Me With Sapphires, the second book in the The London Jewels Trilogy by Jane Feather. The Honorable Miss Fenella Grantley secretly takes acting classes and is surprised when a playwright, Edward Tremayne, the illegitimate son of an earl, wants her to star in his new work. But Fenella never backs down from a challenge, though she finds Edward both fascinating and irritating. Their physical attraction propels them quickly into bed, allowing Fenella more new experiences, but the divide between the noblewoman and the man scorned by society because of his birth still remains. Feather’s love scenes burn, and readers will hope this intrepid heroine and brooding hero find their way to a bright future as they fight and make up, only to fight and make up again.
Small-town contemporary romance is iced with extra charm in Mermaid Inn by Jenny Holiday. The romance genre is beloved in part for its tropes, and this story not only includes a character returning home but also a clause in a will that forces the two leads together. Eve Abbot inherits her great-aunt’s inn, which means spending time in the proximity of her first love, who is now police chief of Moonflower, aka Matchmaker, Bay. Sawyer Collins once broke Eve’s heart, and she’s determined not to let him have another chance at it now, but there’s that pesky will and the pesky matchmaking neighbors and her pesky feelings for Sawyer that haven’t gone away. A picturesque locale, delightful citizens and some smoking-hot love scenes give this book all the feel-good joys one expects from the small-town romance subgenre.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read our Q&A with Milla Vane about A Heart of Blood and Ashes.