★ The True Love Experiment
Romance blooms on reality TV in Christina Lauren’s The True Love Experiment. Celebrated romance author Felicity “Fizzy” Chen is struggling with writer’s block, worrying about whether she’ll ever find love and going through a sexual drought. When she receives an offer to star on the titular dating show, she agrees, hoping to use the program as a way to present her work in a positive light. Producer Connor Prince usually makes short nature docuseries but bows to pressure from his boss to make something more profitable. Cue Fizzy and Connor trying to ignore their immediate attraction; he’s cast eight other guys for her to date, after all. Fizzy is funny, fast-talking and brash, while Connor is a half-Brit single dad whose staid side is overcome by Fizzy’s insistence that they prioritize joy. A delicious, drawn-out happy ending caps this delightful, heartwarming and sex-positive story.
The Duchess Takes a Husband
A bargain for bedsport lessons takes center stage in Harper St. George’s The Duchess Takes a Husband, in which a Gilded Age widow seizes control of her life. Camille, an American heiress who married into the British aristocracy, suffered during her marriage to her abusive husband and was never fully accepted in London society. But now that her husband has died, she’s free to pursue her attraction to Jacob Thorne, co-owner of the infamous Montague Club. He needs a fake fiancée for business reasons, and Camille will play the part if he helps her figure out whether she can enjoy sex. Soon, Jacob discovers he wants to please Camille in all things, encouraging her to assert herself in the bedroom and to explore her burgeoning interest in the women’s suffrage movement. This swoonworthy romance is filled with yearning, tender sensuality and heated love scenes that set fire to the page. The glimpses of the suffrage movement are fascinating, and Camille’s growth is especially gratifying.
The Viscount Who Vexed Me
Julia London tugs at the heart with her new Victorian romance, The Viscount Who Vexed Me. Harriet “Hattie” Woodchurch may have friends among the ton, but she doesn’t have a fortune of her own. She takes a position as secretary to the new Viscount Abbott, Mateo Vincente, who is also the duke of the fictional country of Santiava. Hattie knows he’s above her, but she can’t stifle her attraction to the reserved, quiet gentleman. For his part, Mateo finds himself most comfortable with his down-to-earth scribe, even as pressure grows for him to choose an aristocratic wife. Hattie’s resolve to earn her independence and Mateo’s unconventional interests (he bakes!) make the pair easy to root for as their mutual longing grows. A colorful cast of characters, including frenemies, wicked little brothers and a determined matchmaker, adds to the pleasures of this entertaining tale.