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All Paranormal Romance Coverage

★ Never a Duke

In Never a Duke by Grace Burrowes, a determined lady teams up with an almost-gentleman to search for women who have gone missing in Regency London. Ned Wentworth, who was adopted into a wealthy ducal family as a child, is intrigued to receive a note asking for aid from Lady Rosalind Kinwood, known for her dedication to charitable causes. Instinct urges him to demur, but Rosalind’s beauty and her fear for her missing lady’s maid calls to him. As Ned and Rosalind meet to discuss his investigation, a slow-burn romance full of understated yet heart-aching yearning begins. Burrowes’ writing style evokes classic Regency romance with its witty repartee and loving attention to clothing. Tortured-yet-tender Ned is an unforgettable hero who learns to value himself as much as those around him do. This is the seventh entry in Burrowes’ Rogues to Riches series, and fans will revel in glimpses of past couples and feel delighted that the worthy Ned has found love at last.

Mad for a Mate

MaryJanice Davidson pens a furiously paced, full-of-fun shifter romance in Mad for a Mate. Magnus Berne, a brown werebear of Scottish extraction, is surprised when Verity Lane washes up on the beach of his private island. He’s fascinated by her presence, then even more fascinated to learn she’s a squib—a werecreature that cannot shift—and is part of a club that takes dangerous dares to prove their worth to the world. When fellow club members begin dying, Magnus worries about the lovely Verity, and though usually reclusive, he opens himself up to her world and heart. Nimble-minded readers will delight in Davidson’s almost stream-of-consciousness style and occasional authorial interjections. She never spoon-feeds readers the rules of her paranormal world, which keeps the pace brisk and suits Mad for a Mate’s all-around quirkiness.

When She Dreams

Amanda Quick returns to the glamorous 1930s resort town of Burning Cove, California, in When She Dreams. Intrepid Maggie Lodge resolves to discover who is trying to blackmail her employer, a popular advice columnist. As part of her investigation, she travels to a conference in Burning Cove along with her newly hired (and newly minted) PI, Sam Sage. The conference’s subject intersects with one of Maggie’s personal interests: lucid dreaming, a state in which dreams can act as a conduit to psychic abilities. After a conference attendee’s suspicious death and an encounter with a scientist who is obsessed with Maggie’s abilities as a lucid dreamer, the pair realize this might be much more than a case of simple blackmail. Maggie’s can-do attitude finds a perfect complement in ex-cop Sam’s world-weariness. Falling in love is an unexpected delight for both of them, but longtime fans will not be surprised by Quick’s imagination and mastery of storytelling, which never fail to entertain.

Tired of gloomy vampires and brooding werewolves? Two lighthearted, fizzily fun paranormals, plus a truly unforgettable Regency hero, await you in this month’s romance column.

★ Boss Witch

A witch hunter is on the prowl in the Midwest in Ann Aguirre’s delightful Boss Witch. Clementine Waterhouse, one of the owners and operators of the Fix-It Witches repair shop, vows to save her family and coven by distracting Gavin Rhys, a sexy Brit who’s arrived in town to snatch away the power of any witch in the vicinity. Gavin and Clem quickly discover a powerful spark of sexual attraction between them, and it’s enough to keep them both bewitched, bothered and bewildered until reinforcements are called in from Gavin’s team. Can they craft a solution to an age-old enmity and find a forever love? Boss Witch may be a paranormal romance, but Gavin and Clem have problems every reader can relate to: meddling family, impossible expectations and fears of intimacy. There’s plenty of amusing whimsy piled into Aguirre’s imaginative story, made all the more charming by her energetic and vivid writing style. Boss Witch will make readers believe in the unbelievable, and wish for a little magic for themselves.

To Marry and to Meddle

A couple finds their new marriage less than convenient in To Marry and to Meddle by Martha Waters. For years, Lord Julian Belfry was satisfied with his scandalous reputation as the owner of an unsavory theater. He’s only the second son of a marquess, after all, and not set to inherit any grand title. But respectability would certainly sell more tickets, and he thinks that marrying the beautiful but impoverished Lady Emily Turner will help him reach that goal. Emily agrees, as she’s more than ready for a married lady’s relative independence—and it doesn’t hurt that Julian is handsome and charming. But as the pair learns to live together, they must confront uncomfortable truths about themselves. Will these new revelations make or break their union? Waters’ prose harkens back to foundational Regency romance author Georgette Heyer, but Emily and Julian’s individual journeys of learning to like their authentic selves are timeless. A witty cast of secondary characters and glimpses of backstage theater life add to the fun.  

Going Public

A workplace romance starts slow then burns hot in Going Public, the second book in Hudson Lin’s Jade Harbour Capital series. Elvin Goh loves his job as assistant to Raymond Chao, a hotshot fixer and partner at private equity firm Jade Harbour, even if Elvin’s all-hours and hands-on assignments mean he can’t ignore the many lovers who parade in and out of Ray’s bed. Elvin and Ray are already a great team, but sorting out a thorny, potentially dangerous problem in a Jade Harbour holding brings the pair closer together—and into a new kind of intimacy. Watching sweet, innocent Elvin and jaded playboy Ray navigate new waters will melt readers’ hearts. Lin excels at revealing the inner workings of her characters’ minds, and when they wear their feelings on the sleeve of a luxury business suit . . . well, the appeal is multiplied.

Calling all fans of opposites-attract love stories! We’ve got three steamy recommendations for you in this month’s romance column.

The rom-com revival shows no signs of stopping, and some truly impressive follow-ups defied the sophomore slump in 2021. But one of the biggest takeaways from this year is quite unexpected: Is paranormal romance about to make a comeback in a big way? All we know for sure is that writers like Suleikha Snyder are using the subgenre to craft poignant political statements, and witchy romances are popping up like toadstools. 

10. Big Bad Wolf by Suleikha Snyder

This sexy paranormal romance stands out for its first-rate world building, breakneck pace and incisive social commentary.

9. Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne

Beneath Sally Thorne’s charming prose and irresistible characters lies a tender, deeply felt story of two overlooked people seeing the beauty in each other.

8. Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper

This supernatural romance is hilarious, moving and glue-you-to-the-page engrossing, and it has one of the most enviably cozy small-town settings you’ll ever find.

7. Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

Readers will feel as attached to Tia Williams’ central couple as they are to each other in this meta romance between two authors.

6. One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

Bursting with heart, banter and a respect for queer history and community, One Last Stop proves that Casey McQuiston has no intention of resting on her laurels after the unprecedented success of Red, White & Royal Blue

5. Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin

This warm, inventive take on You’ve Got Mail swaps bookstores for dueling halal restaurants, using the beloved rom-com as a starting point rather than a template.

4. Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall

This is a deeply emotional, rewarding story about a woman finding her true path and true love, surrounded by delicious baked goods.

3. Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

In her final Brown Sisters novel, Talia Hibbert exhibits masterful control of plot and character, as well as a wonderful blend of escapist tropes and more difficult truths.

2. People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

This inspired and achingly romantic reimagining of the beloved rom-com When Harry Met Sally firmly establishes Emily Henry as the millennial heir to Nora Ephron.

1. All the Feels by Olivia Dade

Heart-wrenching and wildly sexy, this romance details the difficult work of personal growth while cannily commenting on celebrity in the digital age.

See all of our Best Books of 2021 lists.

The rom-com revival shows no signs of stopping, and some truly impressive follow-ups defied the sophomore slump in 2021.

★ Archangel’s Light

Nalini Singh pens an enthralling read in Archangel’s Light. Young warrior angels Illium and Aodhan are committed to putting the world to rights after a devastating supernatural war. Their archangel, Raphael, directs Aodhan to help rebuild the territory of China, which separates him from Illium, his oldest and dearest friend. But when Illium is sent to support the venture as well, the friends have an opportunity to confront new evil as well as old hurts. There’s a chilling mystery at the center of the story—a hamlet of 50 people seems to have vanished into thin air—but it’s the depiction of the relationship between Aodhan and Illium that drives the narrative. Singh depicts the angels’ history from infancy to their burgeoning adulthood. As she explores the strain that mars their connection, it’s impossible not to root for the pair to find their way back to each other’s hearts and souls—and into a new intimacy. This 14th romance in Singh’s Guild Hunter series is engrossing, entertaining and filled with tender emotion.

Never Fall for Your Fiancée

An earl’s attempts to appease his mother end up unleashing mayhem in Virginia Heath’s Never Fall for Your Fiancée. Hugh Standish, Earl of Fareham, will have an especially unwelcome guest for Christmas this year: his mother. For two years, he’s written to her about his pretend fiancée, and now she expects to meet this paragon. In a panic, Hugh propositions Minerva Merriwell, a woman he meets on the street. He offers to pay her to play the part of the lady he supposedly intends to marry, and desperate financial straits propel Minerva to agree. It’s all madcap fun from there with drunken actresses, sniping best friends and Minerva’s attempts to live up to Hugh’s florid descriptions of her accomplishments. Amid the chaos, Hugh and Minerva find time to get to know each other and fall in love, even though both believe forever is not in the cards. Heath’s fast-paced scenes and likable characters will leave fans of Regency romps smiling.

Pretty Little Lion

A racially, supernaturally and sexually diverse cast of characters springs from the pages of Pretty Little Lion, Suleikha Snyder’s follow-up to her bold, take-no-prisoners series starter Big Bad Wolf. Elijah Richter, co-founder of the Third Shift black ops group, is a lion shifter on a mission. He’s tasked with seducing Meghna Saxena-Saunders and discovering what her criminal boyfriend is planning. But Elijah soon learns that Meghna is more than a pretty face. She’s an apsara, a supernaturally gifted assassin and spy who uses her powers of seduction and persuasion to take down evil men. The plot moves at the speed of light, and the four point-of-view characters are as interesting as they are lethal. Snyder’s assured, contemporary voice doesn’t shy away from the political parallels between our reality and her dystopian America, making the otherwise fantastical, cinematic story feel very topical indeed. Readers will root for the good guys, even the ones who have only recently joined their ranks, in this steamy, thrilling paranormal romance with a heart of gold. 

Think all paranormal love stories are the same? Two of the books in this month’s romance column will change your mind.

In a society obsessed with genetic perfection, any difference is a cause for concern. In the midst of a gorgeous love story about childhood friends reunited, Nalini Singh’s Last Guard beautifully depicts both the perils of that obsession and its alternative: a world in which difference can be strength.

Canto Mercant and Payal Rao were born into two of the wealthiest and most influential Psy families, but with privilege came a dangerous fixation. To their families, any variation is weakness, and no weakness is tolerated. When a child shows signs of being atypical in any way, they’re shuttled out of public view. Canto has limited use of his legs, and Payal has been traumatized by her brother’s physical abuse; her ensuing rage results in her being labeled mentally and emotionally unstable. Canto and Payal are both shipped off to an out-of-the-way boarding school. As “7J” and “3K” respectively, they’re subjected to terrible abuse and their lives are assumed to be unworthy of preservation.

Amid this nightmare, the two brilliant and beautiful children form a friendship, creating an unbreakable bond through small acts of kindness. In a glorious moment of defiance, Payal saves Canto from a teacher who was on the verge of killing him. The teacher dies in the melee, families are contacted, and the children removed. But Canto and Payal never forget one another. Canto’s father subscribed to toxic, eugenicist ideas of perfection, but his mother’s family, who takes him in after he leaves school, holds no such beliefs. Nurtured by the tightknit Mercants, Canto gains fierce love, protection and the best medical care. He even gains another family after he’s embraced by his cousin Silver’s Changeling mate, an alpha bear shifter named Valentin, and his rambunctious clan. But he never stops searching for 3K.

Payal returns to her father, who considers her defective and only values her as a better alternative to his violent and psychopathic son. She endures by leaving all emotion behind, rising to the position of CEO in the family business. Outwardly cold, contained and inscrutable, she’s painfully isolated and constantly fighting to stay in control. When she’s diagnosed with life-threatening brain tumors, necessary medication is meted out in small increments to keep her in line and under her father’s thumb.

The eventual reunion of these two souls would be more than enough to sustain any novel. But Singh also seamlessly intertwines wonderfully precise discussions of disability into Canto and Payal’s evolution from childhood friend to adult lovers. Ableism is not just challenged; it’s trounced as Canto and Payal talk candidly about the tools and adaptations they use to survive and thrive. Last Guard also goes deep on efforts to save the crumbling PsyNet, the psychic network in which Canto and Payal play an essential role, so while strongly recommended for its life-affirming love story, Last Guard is best enjoyed if readers are already fully immersed in Singh's Psy-Changeling lore. For readers with a firm grounding in the previous books, however, slipping back into the Psy-Changeling world in Last Guard will feel like coming home.

For readers with a firm grounding in the previous books, slipping back into the Psy-Changeling world in Last Guard will feel like coming home.

Most paranormal romance series take place in our world, or in a place extremely similar to it. But few are as invested in the most pressing issues of our time than Suleikha Snyder’s Third Shift series, which begins with Big Bad Wolf. In Snyder’s alternate version of America, the existence of supernatural beings was revealed to the general public in 2016, leading to mass panic, the creation of a surveillance state and the registration of said supernatural beings. Even worse, the government’s totalitarian bent has amplified homophobia, racism and sexism.

We talked to Snyder about putting her unique stamp on the shifter romance, scene-stealing vampires and more.

You're perhaps best known for your contemporary romances. What led you to switch genres? 
Big Bad Wolf is my first longform paranormal romance. I've dabbled in the subgenre in some of my indie-published short stories, which readers can find in my Prem Numbers collection. Suffice it to say, diving in headfirst to a full-length series and having to build out a whole world was pretty daunting. But I always want to challenge myself!

I don't see it as switching genres so much as hopping around. I will no doubt jump back to contemporaries after this because I want to keep growing and learning as an author. And writing shifter romances has taught me a lot about continuity and just keeping the little details straight. What are the rules of this world? How do wolf shifters heal? Can vampires eat or drink? These are all things you learn to hash out as you pen a paranormal.

"I fully admit that I talked about imprinting mostly so I could make duck jokes."

Your paranormal world is clearly inspired by the political climate of the last few years. How long has this world been in your head? Did it change at all over the years? Why was it important to you to create an alternate reality that so clearly mirrors our own?
I've had some version of this world in my head since 2013 or so! But the shift in the political climate since 2015–2016 definitely kicked it all into high gear and informed how I moved forward with the stories. It became all the more vital for me to use the supernatural community as a metaphor for the challenges all marginalized people face. Not that I left it solely up to my shifters and vampires to carry that. My cast features Americans of all sorts—Asian, Black, Latinx—and characters represent the LGBTQ+ spectrum as well. My goal is to show that an "alternate reality" is often the actual reality that we've lived with our entire lives.

Big Bad Wolf doesn't confine itself to the main couple's POV in the way a traditional romance novel would; you tell parts of this story from other characters’ perspectives as well. What did that choice open up for you as a writer? When did you realize you would need to break from the stereotypical romance structure to tell this story?
I didn't even really think about breaking away from typical romance structure. This is just how I write. I think a lot of that comes from watching serial dramas my whole life. I'm a soap opera fan, both primetime and daytime, and love procedural shows and comic book movies. And most of those forms weave in multiple narratives to show you a full picture of what's happening. "Let's go see what's happening in the villain's camp." "Oh, here's some comic relief." And I love a good ensemble cast, so this was an opportunity for me to create one!

Were there any supernatural creatures you wanted to include and decided not to? Any that you'd still like to incorporate further down the line?
There are no supernatural beings that I deliberately left out. I like to leave myself room to do anything, try anything. But you will see more characters from South Asian mythology as the series continues. It's really important to me to pull from my own background and our rich cultural mine. I grew up with vampires and werewolves because of Western pop culture, but I also had the stories of nagas, yakshas, apsaras and djinn. So readers will get to experience some of that in the next two books.

One of the things I loved about this book is how you play with already established shifter romance tropes, such as imprinting/fated mates. Joe and Neha's attraction to one another both is and isn't the sort of paradigm-changing, life-altering force we would find in similar romances. Can you talk a bit about how you developed your own take on the imprinting trope?
I fully admit that I talked about imprinting mostly so I could make duck jokes. Sometimes I just do things for the quick laugh. But on a larger level, I'm not a huge proponent of the fated mate trope, because I grapple with what that means for free will. So I kind of dug into that with Joe and Neha. Sure, they're pulled toward each other and that might be because he's a shifter . . . but what does that mean about their ability to choose one another?

ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read our starred review of Big Bad Wolf.

The Third Shift team feels immediately present and dynamic on the page. How did you build out all those characters and their relationships, and did any aspect of that surprise you?
I am a character person. Plot is so much harder. I could create friends and lovers and family members and have them all banter and spar all day long. So creating all these fun personalities was totally my wheelhouse—especially, again, coming from it as a soap viewer. I love relationships of all kinds. The close friendship between Third Shift founders Elijah Richter and Jackson Tate and their recruits is sort of the spine of the series. And then I just add romance wherever I can! One thing that surprised me was what develops between Nate, Finn and Grace. I had very different intentions for those characters, and their spark snuck up on me. The follow-through in Pretty Little Lion might very much surprise readers as well!

Speaking of Finn, he is the definition of a scene stealer—was he as fun to write as he was to read?
Oh my gosh, yes! I think people who follow me on social media know that I can't resist puns and innuendos, so I just leaned into that with Finn. I laughed aloud so many times while writing his dialogue. And please don't EVER do a drinking game to his eyebrow movements. I don't want to be responsible for what happens. With that said, readers will learn more about Finn in book two, Pretty Little Lion, and see another side to this quip-heavy flirt.

There's a really powerful moment near the end of the book when Neha talks about how, despite the darkness of her reality, she finds hope because she expects better from the world. How and where do you find hope?
Hope is the core of why we read and write romance, isn't it? That's where I find it most often. In that “Happily Ever After” at the end. So having Neha talk about hope and expecting better from the world helped me with my own sense of that. Fighting fiercely for who and what you love is what keeps us going in the end.

What's next for you?
I'm finishing up revisions on Third Shift book two, Pretty Little Lion, and after that it's on to book three! Tentatively titled Coldhearted Snakes, it will tie up the arc begun in Big Bad Wolf. And then I might find another subgenre to play in!


Author photo by Elizabeth McQuern Photography

We talked to Suleikha Snyder about putting her unique stamp on the shifter romance, scene-stealing vampires and more.

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