These three love stories combine beloved tropes (marriage of convenience! fake engagement!) with pitch-perfect pacing.
★ The Secret Bridesmaid
The Secret Bridesmaid by Katy Birchall provides charming entertainment, British rom-com style. In a breezy first-person voice, the narrator (Sophie Breeze, ha!) relates her adventures as a professional bridesmaid—or rather, an incognito wedding planner for brides who want to claim they organized their own nuptials. As Sophie embarks on her most high-profile gig yet, emails, voicemails and texts offer hilarious snapshots of the problems she tackles and the solutions she devises. The bride is horrid, her brother is an attractive and good-natured modern Mr. Darcy, and their aristocratic circle is way out of Sophie’s league, but it’s impossible not to root for her to win the day—and the guy. This kisses-only romance is a pure delight that will leave a smile on readers’ faces and in their hearts.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Katy Birchall on the joys of weddings and why she's anti-canapé.
A Wicked Bargain for the Duke
An aristocrat seeking a particular kind of duchess discovers the perfect woman for him instead in A Wicked Bargain for the Duke by Megan Frampton. In this third installment of the Hazards of Dukes series, the new Duke of Hasford, Thaddeus, has decided to do his duty by finding a wife and conceiving an heir. Lady Jane Capel appears perfect for him—beautiful and biddable—but he can’t look away from her fiery sister, Lavinia. When circumstances force them to marry (a popular trope), the two strike a bargain that is undermined by their growing feelings for each other and Lavinia’s scandalous secret occupation as a novelist. Readers will fall for the likable, laudable Thaddeus and Lavinia as they fall for each other, discovering the joys of the marriage bed through several scorching love scenes. There are compelling secondary characters and a lot of romantic satisfaction in this sweet happily ever after.
The Lady Has a Past
Travel to 1930s Southern California in Amanda Quick’s The Lady Has a Past. The latest Burning Cove romance begins with newbie investigator Lyra Brazier on the hunt for her boss, Raina, who has mysteriously left town. Lyra teams up with private eye Simon Cage, and by posing as newlyweds, the pair infiltrates the exclusive hotel and spa where Raina was last seen. Simon is a good man for Lyra to have at her side as the mystery and danger grows. Not only is he wildly attractive, but he also possesses a paranormal gift for uncovering secrets. But for all his expertise, Simon is new to the ways of the heart, and his transformation from man above the emotional fray to dedicated lover is delicious. Stylish and sophisticated, The Lady Has a Past is pure fun spiced with spine-tingling suspense. Vile villains, clever characters and a glamorous desert resort setting all come together to provide a great escape. This romantic mystery is a first-rate example of Quick’s expertise at spinning an enthralling tale.