Whether you’re a longtime romance fan or are jumping in to the genre for the first time, celebrate Valentine’s Day with a love story.
★ Big Bad Wolf
Contemporary life looks different in the alternate reality of Suleikha Snyder’s Big Bad Wolf, where the existence of shape-shifters and other supernatural beings has recently been revealed to the public. Lawyer and psychologist Neha Ahluwalia’s new client is Joe Peluso, an ex-soldier and wolf shifter who committed murder in an act of vigilante justice. He’s big, brooding and so attractive that she can’t suppress her longing for him. When Joe manages to break out of jail, Neha is at his side, and he can’t turn her away. They hide out and then seek help from an underground team of supernatural beings devoted to people who, like Joe, were turned into shifters by the government. Big Bad Wolf is filled with cinematic action and blazing passion, but the characters (including an intriguing pansexual vampire) are well drawn, and the world building is first-rate despite the breakneck pace. Snyder’s vision of how the political and social order would change in the wake of such paradigm-shifting news is spot on. Readers of sexy paranormal romance will thoroughly enjoy this first in a new series—and clamor for more.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: How Suleikha Snyder put her unique stamp on the shifter romance.
A Lady’s Formula for Love
A Victorian widow and scientist pursues her passion in A Lady’s Formula for Love by debut author Elizabeth Everett. Lady Violet Hughes has established a social club for ladies, the real function of which is to mask a collective of women interested in math and science. When Violet’s stepson asks her to use her scientific prowess for a secret government project, he also provides her with a bodyguard, Arthur Kneland, to protect her and the club. Violet is fascinated by the taciturn Arthur and even more by his rare smiles. Arthur is smitten as well, but he resists; he can’t afford distraction if he’s going to keep Violet safe. Though the pair are worlds apart in intellectual interests and social class, their hearts find common ground. Arthur represents a beloved romance trope: the silent hero who becomes a skilled linguist in the language of love. Sensual and tender love scenes and secondary female characters seeking their own empowerment make this an entertaining, standout debut.
★ Wild Rain
Adventure awaits in the Wyoming Territory in Wild Rain by Beverly Jenkins. Rancher, horse-breaker and all-around badass Spring Lee (who stole many a scene during her first appearance in Jenkins’ Tempest) rescues an injured man during a blizzard. She brings Garrett McCray to her cabin, where she learns he’s a reporter from the District of Columbia who’s traveled all the way to Wyoming to interview her famous brother, Dr. Colton Lee. Garrett soon finds himself as intrigued by the independent and accomplished Spring as he is entranced by the surrounding mountains. The two discuss their families and personal experiences as a Black man and woman from very different parts of the country, and face down bigotry together in the neighboring community of Paradise. Spring is an engaging, action-oriented character, and she’s met her match in the more cerebral and softer-edged Garrett. Their love story is sigh-inducing, the scenes of passion sizzle, and the enriching historical details of the Black experience—including Garrett’s service in the Union Navy during the Civil War—make this a romance not to be missed.
An ex-FBI agent hunts a serial killer who appears to be back from the dead in Driven by Rebecca Zanetti. Angus Force shot the murderer himself and was grievously wounded in the process, but now women are dying in the same gruesome manner as before. As he and his team, the secret Deep Ops Unit, investigate the new deaths, the clues begin to point to Angus. Could he actually be responsible? Nari Zhang, the team’s on-staff psychologist, knows he’s innocent, even though it’s clear he’s a man driven by pain and guilt. She sticks close to help uncover the truth, even after it becomes clear that the killer has her in his sights. Angus is the sort of grim, wounded hero that every romance fan wants to see healed, but smart and self-aware Nari protects her heart even as the two reluctant lovers come together in spicy scenes that match the pulsing suspense. The story moves fast, and there’s an unexpected twist or two, as well as a scene- and booze-stealing German shepherd that provides a little levity to this dark and satisfying romantic thriller.
The Duke Heist
The Duke Heist by Erica Ridley introduces a new series via a delightful family of orphans. As the six adopted siblings of a wealthy and eccentric baron, the Wynchesters are determined to recover a painting dear to their hearts and to their dearly departed adoptive father. Chloe Wynchester takes point on the plan to retrieve the artwork from the newest Duke of Faircliffe, Lawrence Gosling. Rebuffed initial overtures mean she must resort to more nefarious undercover measures—something familiar to a woman who survived her childhood by picking pockets. A chance encounter leaves Lawrence in Chloe’s debt and begins an association that allows love to blossom. But the impoverished duke needs a respectable heiress to restore his family’s fortunes and make up for his father’s mistakes, and the scandalous Chloe wants a man to love her for herself, not her bank account. Both will have to learn valuable lessons about self-respect and the limitations of society’s rules before finding their happy ever after. Ridley’s motley crew of Wynchester siblings is as charming as it is unforgettable, signaling more great romance ahead. The Duke Heist is everything a Regency romance fan hopes for.