What do a mysterious painting, a quirky retirement village and a forensic photographer have in common? They're all in this month's romance column!
★ The Duke Undone
Opposites attract is a beloved romance trope, and it’s hard to imagine two people less likely to fall in love than a handsome aristocrat and an orphaned art student. When Lucy Coover encounters Anthony Philby, Duke of Weston, unconscious and naked in a London alley, she covers him up and gets help but later paints him from memory as a mythic (and nude) figure. Anthony discovers the piece before his disgrace becomes public, but he must find the artist to prevent further renderings. The Duke Undone is no rom-com, however. Author Joanna Lowell’s novel includes glimpses of life at the Royal Academy of Arts, political chicanery, kidnapping and the plight of people in unsavory asylums. It’s a lush, sensual and outstanding romance that makes the heart ache in the very best way.
★ Second First Impressions
Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne is a tender love story about a woman who learns to put herself first. Ruthie Midona both lives and works at the Providence Retirement Villa, and the 25-year-old wonders if she’ll still be living there in 70 years. She’s a cautious sort, so it will take a big bang to shake up her world. This explosion comes in the guise of ne’er-do-well tattoo artist Teddy Prescott, who’s hired as an assistant to a pair of residents (who make adorable supporting characters). Who wouldn’t fall for confident, beautiful Teddy, even though he’s got bigger plans that will soon take him far away? There’s so much to love in this book. Many readers will see a little of themselves in Ruthie’s relatable perspective, and all of them will lose their hearts to Teddy. His self-deprecating charm is irresistible, but he’s more than a pretty face—just as beneath Thorne’s fresh and breezy writing style is a story with real depth. Second First Impressions is an unforgettable charmer.
A former forensic photographer and a detective team up to stop a serial killer in Flight by Laura Griffin. In the small coastal town of Lost Beach, Texas, Miranda Moore tries to de-stress from a particularly gruesome case by photographing birds, but the discovery of a pair of dead bodies soon draws her into a new investigation. Detective Joel Breda recognizes Miranda’s gift with her camera and is also struck by a level of attraction he hasn’t experienced before. Miranda is likewise smitten, but she’s more wary. When it looks like the killer is getting close to her, however, she turns to Joel for more than just protection. Griffin evokes a fabulous sense of place; the reader can feel the humidity and smell the salt air. An appealing cast combined with just the right amount of tingling suspense create a balanced blend of sexy romance and intriguing mystery.