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All Western Romance Coverage

Two Regency romances and a Western friends-to-lovers tale will charm with their good-natured characters.

★ West End Earl

A Regency-era aristocrat finds love right under his nose in West End Earl by Bethany Bennett. Calvin, Earl of Carlyle, enjoys his life and his friends, one of whom is Adam Hardwick, a young man whom he took under his wing. After a childhood of scandals, handsome and clever Cal works to keep his days drama-free. Then he discovers that “Adam” is actually Ophelia, who created the disguise to save herself from a dangerous uncle. This revelation turns Cal’s world on its axis, and as he takes a second and then third look at his friend, his feelings become the opposite of platonic. Ophelia desires him, too, but can they keep their new relationship secret? Between Cal’s wayward younger sister and his father’s attempts to marry him off, all looks lost for true love. Ophelia is just as clever as Cal (as a particularly delightful stratagem near the end of the book more than proves), but can they overcome all the obstacles standing in the way of happily ever after? Damsels donning trousers to hide their identities is a beloved romance novel trope—These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer springs to mind—and it provides delicious, sexy fun in West End Earl.

Hope on the Range

Hope on the Range by Cindi Madsen takes readers west to find love. Cowboy heroes and a friends-to-lovers plot tick a pair of popular romance boxes, and Madsen’s take on them doesn’t disappoint as next-ranch neighbors Tanya Greer and Brady Dawson finally discover that just being buddies isn’t enough. Tanya has been aware of her feelings for a while, and when she at last decides to speak up, their mutual passion is unleashed. But they’re not in clover quite yet, as Tanya dreams of a career that might take her away from home . . . and away from Brady. Beyond the central love story, there’s also romance between the teens at Brady’s horse therapy ranch, rodeo events to win and heart-tugging horses in need of rescue. Madsen writes with an assured, warm voice that matches this life-affirming love story. Optimism abounds in this sunny romance that will surely leave Western romance fans smiling.

A Duke in Time 

A veteran duke is determined to help his fellow soldiers as they return home in A Duke in Time by Janna MacGregor. But first, Christian, Duke of Randford, must deal with the mess his deceased half-brother, Meri, left behind: three wives, each unaware that her husband had married other women. Their scandalous predicament can’t be ignored, and neither can Christian’s immediate attraction to Katherine “Kat” Vareck, Meri’s first wife. While Christian would prefer to focus on helping his regiment, he’s distracted by Kat, a self-made businesswoman who sells fine linens to the aristocracy. But after he realizes Kat’s expertise might help his charity efforts, they spend more time together and begin to fall in love. There’s more at stake than hearts, however: Kat, Christian and Meri’s other two “widows” have their reputations and livelihoods to worry about, as well as past sorrows to come to terms with. This excellent Regency romance, the first in the Widow Rules series, stands out thanks to its detailed love scenes and swoon-inducing dialogue. 

Two Regency romances and a Western friends-to-lovers tale will charm with their good-natured characters.

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.

Driven

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.

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.

Impish fun, heart-tripping danger and a cowboy to remember can be found in the pages of August's best new romances.

 Would I Lie to the Duke

An ambitious woman with a family business to save falls for an aristocrat in the Regency historical romance Would I Lie to the Duke by Eva Leigh. Hoping to secure an investor, Jessica McGale, posing as “Lady Whitfield,” finagles her way into an elite group that includes Noel, the Duke of Rotherby. They’re immediately attracted, and Jess impresses him with her intelligence, common sense and ability to treat him as a man rather than a title. Their romance is charming, their conversations witty and sly, and their love scenes are positively scorching. But all good masquerades must come to an end, and Noel feels betrayed by Jess’ deceit, despite its good cause. There are well-rounded characters, drama and some impish fun—one man pitches what sounds very much like an impractical version of Twitter—but the satisfying sense of female empowerment makes this a standout.


ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Eva Leigh shares which 1980s movies inspired Would I Lie to the Duke.


Say No More

A horrific past shadows the heroine of Karen Rose’s Say No More. Sexual abuse survivor Mercy Callahan returns to Northern California to reunite with her brother and uncover details of the dangerous cult that raised them. Police detective Rafe Sokolov can’t help but admire Mercy’s grit as they team up to stop recent killings that may be connected to the cult. Mercy is no isolated damsel in distress, and Rafe is no driven lone wolf. Loyal family and friends step in to help the protagonists, and it’s a richer story for their presence. There’s lethal, heart-tripping danger, but the tender love story and powerful friendships provide a positive emotional core to this exciting thriller.

Wild Cowboy Country

Park ranger Lacey Montgomery suffers a concussion while protecting a wolf den from harassment by teenagers at the beginning of Erin Marsh’s Wild Cowboy Country. But she and the cubs are saved by one of the teens and his uncle, rancher Clay Stevens. Mutual respect and then romantic feelings follow as Clay and Lacey trade views on wolves and ranch management. Another star of the story is the local zoo, as sections are told from the points of view of various four-legged inhabitants. What are the thoughts of a capybara, honey badger and camel? Find out here! Whimsy, a bit of suspense and a whole lot of heart make this a super summer read.

Impish fun, heart-tripping danger and a cowboy to remember can be found in the pages of August's best new romances. ★ Would I Lie to the Duke An ambitious woman with a family business to save falls for an aristocrat in the Regency historical romance Would I Lie to the Duke by Eva Leigh. Hoping to secure […]

We all need a little kindness. We need patience and understanding—for ourselves and for each other. We need reminders of the good things in the world. We need beautiful sights. We need heartwarming stories. We need laughter and joy and a sense that things really can get better.

We need some hot cowboys cuddling puppies.

Thankfully, Jennie Marts and Lucy Gilmore are here to provide them.


In A Cowboy State of Mind, you get a whole menagerie of cute animals as Bryn Callahan starts an animal rescue—accidently. It begins when the spunky waitress decides to rescue a horse being taken to slaughter. From there, she ends up with another horse, a dog with a litter of five puppies, a miniature pony, a pair of lovebirds and even a massive pig that thinks it’s a house pet. But of course, the stray she collects who needs the most healing is cowboy Zane Taylor. Scarred, inside and out, by a bitter childhood and devastating losses, Zane is fully convinced that he’s beyond saving. It takes all of Bryn’s grit, dedication and determined sunniness to convince him that he has the right to be rescued from his fears and doubts, and that he deserves to claim the joy Bryn brings him.

I’m a city girl through and through, so it says something that Jennie Marts makes me wish I lived in the small town she has created. Creedence, Colorado, radiates a warmth that could soothe the weariest heart. I love the thought of a diner where the waitress helps you with your crossword puzzle, or a feed store where you walk in to find a neighbor has put some money on your tab, just to lend a hand. And while everyone in town knows your problems almost before you do, they act on that knowledge by pitching in to help—with a trailer full of supplies, or a bowl of ice cream on the house or a stern talking-to aimed at your deceitful ex—just when you need it the most. The story has its share of heartache, but there’s sweetness to it, too, including a happily ever after that’s mixed up and backwards and perfectly wonderful all at once.

There’s far less chaos out on Dearborn Ranch in Puppy Kisses—and that’s a problem. Handsome Adam Dearborn runs his life and his ranch on precise, orderly lines, partially to accommodate the blindness he’s had since childhood, but mostly because he feels he’s safer coloring inside the lines, never risking his heart and never leaving his comfort zone. But then dog trainer Dawn Vasquez comes speeding into his life with a stolen (or rescued—let’s go with rescued) golden retriever puppy and throws his tidy world into turmoil. Dawn is everything Adam is not: vivacious, impulsive, passionate and heartbreakingly aware that the world tends to view her as “too much.” Adam, by contrast, is convinced he is not enough.

The chemistry crackles as these opposites very much attract—but sex, alas, doesn’t manage to solve their problems (no matter how fun it is to read!). What they need is a little emotional honesty, and who better to teach them that than a dog? Or even a pair of dogs, when Dawn tries to convince Adam to accept another candidate and give the golden retriever to her. Dawn visits the ranch to train Adam and his guide dog, but it feels more like the dogs are training Adam and Dawn in how to love without hesitation, trust without fear and accept (others and yourself) without reservation.

So in short, come to these books for sparkling writing, fun characters and rich emotional journeys, but also . . . well . . . hot cowboys and cuddly puppies. Because you need to remember that these things exist in the world. Be kind to yourself and pick up these books.

We all need a little kindness. We need patience and understanding—for ourselves and for each other. We need reminders of the good things in the world. We need beautiful sights. We need heartwarming stories. We need laughter and joy and a sense that things really can get better. We need some hot cowboys cuddling puppies. […]

It’s not every day that the “meet cute” starts with a shotgun . . . but not every heroine is Ellie-May Blackwell. Tough, strong and stubborn—not to mention fierce when she needs to be—Ellie-May brooks no nonsense and protects what’s hers, whether that’s her two children, her struggling farm or the memory of her late husband, Neal Blackwell. Neal is viewed with reverence by most of the town of Haywire, Texas, after dying a hero’s death while saving children from a burning schoolhouse. Ellie-May is not viewed nearly as kindly. The child of a notorious outlaw, she knows all too well how it feels to be treated as guilty by association.

So when Texas Ranger Matt Taggert shows up with suspicions that Neal participated in a stagecoach robbery the day before he died, well, Matt’s lucky that all he gets is a shotgun pointed in his face. He’s not welcome. His suspicions aren’t welcome. And most unwelcome of all are the doubts he plants in Ellie-May’s heart—doubts that make her question everything she thought she knew when she finds a sack full of banknotes stuffed under her front porch.

Ellie-May is a heartbreakingly relatable character. On the one hand, she desperately wants to prove wrong all the whispers and taunts that say she’s no better than her father, but on the other hand, she’s ferociously determined to protect her son and daughter from being tarred by the same brush. The children think of Neal as a hero and she’d do anything to keep from shattering that ideal. That turmoil would be enough to twist any woman into knots, even without the distraction of a certain very handsome, very appealing Texas Ranger. But then Matt goes and makes himself even more desirable by being kind to her children and genuinely compassionate about Ellie-May’s background, approaching it from a place of true understanding, since the death of their own father led Matt’s brother to spiral out of control and become an outlaw himself.

Indeed, struggles and sufferings in their past are something that all of the key characters in this story share, from Matt’s grief over his father’s loss and his brother’s downfall, to Ellie-May’s bruised spirit over the town’s scorn, to her farmhand Anvil’s past as a vagrant, to Jesse, the teenage sidekick Matt accidentally picks up (my favorite character, I must confess), whose father crawled into a bottle after losing his wife. Even Neal, Haywire’s local saint, had a painful secret in his past that kept him from ever finding peace. Margaret Brownley is not gentle with her characters, and they’re the better for it. The troubles they’ve faced have tempered them, making them wiser, stronger, kinder. More loyal. More generous. And ever more deserving of the happy endings they all find in the end.

It’s not every day that the “meet cute” starts with a shotgun . . . but not every heroine is Ellie-May Blackwell. Tough, strong and stubborn—not to mention fierce when she needs to be—Ellie-May brooks no nonsense and protects what’s hers, whether that’s her two children, her struggling farm or the memory of her late […]

Travel to the Georgian era, outer space and the Old West in May's best new romances.

★ The Rakess

Seraphina Arden, a notorious women’s rights advocate, retreats to Cornwall to write about the past that “ruined” her in Scarlett Peckham’s passionate Georgian romance, The Rakess. Widower Adam Anderson is an architect with ambitions, and consorting with a scandalous woman might hinder his goal of securing a good life for his young children. So Seraphina and Adam embark on a secret affair to assuage their mutual hunger. Their appetites are lustily described, but it’s how their hearts are affected that will keep the reader turning the pages. Peppered with Seraphina’s well-reasoned arguments on gender relations, Peckham’s print debut is unique, dramatic and vastly entertaining.


ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: How womens rights activist Mary Wollstonecraft inspired Scarlett Peckham's alpha heroine.


Starbreaker

Strap in for a rollicking ride with Starbreaker by Amanda Bouchet. Tess Bailey and Shade Ganavan continue their quest to thwart the evil Galactic Overseer. The pair encounters challenging and surprising obstacles as old friends and old enemies pop up to create problems or become unlikely allies. And while Tess and Shade share a bed, issues still cast doubt on their romantic future. Tess learns of secrets from her past, and Shade must accept that he can never return to his previous life. This is a high-octane adventure with life-and-death stakes. Sci-fi romance must satisfy on many levels, and Bouchet proves she’s up to the task. Her characters are witty and wise, and her world building is first-rate.

Stages of the Heart

Jo Goodman’s Stages of the Heart is rich in detail and plot. Laurel Morrison—independent, tough and determined—manages a station that provides meals and accommodations along the stagecoach route. When a mine’s payroll goes missing from her station, she needs to solve the mystery to ensure her success. Enter quintessential Western hero McCall Landry, a laconic man with steely nerves and a shadowed past. McCall is looking for work and takes on the task of determining who stole the strongbox from the stagecoach. The couple is intrigued and attracted, but Laurel doesn’t expect forever—maybe McCall’s just passing through. The author of some 50 books, Goodman has a true storyteller’s voice that will have you feeling the dust on your boots and the wind in your hair. 


Christie Ridgway is a lifelong romance reader and a published romance novelist of over 60 books.

Travel to the Georgian era, outer space and the Old West in May's best new romances. ★ The Rakess Seraphina Arden, a notorious women’s rights advocate, retreats to Cornwall to write about the past that “ruined” her in Scarlett Peckham’s passionate Georgian romance, The Rakess. Widower Adam Anderson is an architect with ambitions, and consorting with […]

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