Feehan, Kleypas, Long, Shalvis, Debuter Kelly, plus Obits & RWA News | Romance Reviews, June 15, 2016

Summertime—and the Livin’ Readin’ Is Easy If you work in a public library, things don’t really slow down in the summer, with the young folks out of school and summer reading programs in full swing. Still, if your summertime livin’ isn’t easy, there’s no reason why your readin’ can’t make the days a lot more fun. Whether you want to explore another time and place, nestle down in a small, cozy community, be kidnapped (not so much) by pirates, or slip through shadows (all while falling in love, of course), there’s a perfect summer book for you. Here are a few of our favorites.

summertime tales

Callihan, Kristen. Forevermore. Forever: Grand Central. (Darkest London, Bk. 7). Jul. 2016. 336p. ISBN 9781455581702. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781455581696. PARANORMAL ROMANCE

forevermore.jpg6916Layla Starling always knew that her guardian, Augustus, wasn’t her father. And not until he brings her childhood friend Saint John “Sin” Evernight back into her life after years apart does she learn that he is an angel of Judgment—and that Sin is one as well. But Augustus’s days in this world are numbered. As Layla comes into her heretofore unknown powers, she needs protecting, and it’s up to Sin to keep her safe. Tension crackles and tempers flare as the two sort things out in a dark, supernatural world that holds danger and secrets. VERDICT A heroine with a dangerous heritage and an equally powerful hero succeed against all odds in an engrossing story that keeps the pages turning. A satisfying conclusion to an unforgettable paranormal series. Callihan (The Game Plan) lives in the Washington, DC, area.

Feehan, Christine. Shadow Rider. Jove. (Shadow, Bk. 1). Jul. 2016. 480p. ISBN 9780515156133. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780698197770. PARANORMAL ROMANCE

On the run from the powerful man who killed her sister in Los Angeles, Francesca Capello heads to Chicago with her best friend, hoping to fly under the radar and make a new life for herself. There, she ends up attracting the attention of Stefano Ferraro, whose high-profile, somewhat mysterious family controls and protects the area where she now lives. She is swept into an unfamiliar life and claimed by a ruthless assassin with a fierce sense of responsibility who rewrites the definition of alpha male hero. VERDICT Edgy, inventive, and steamy, this deliciously dark, often grim story featuring deadly and graceful characters who literally slip through the shadows is a standout for the creative Feehan and launches another well-conceived series. Feehan (Fire Bound) lives in Northern California.

Gracie, Anne. The Summer Bride. Berkley Sensation. (Chance Sisters, Bk. 4). Jul. 2016. 320p. ISBN 9780425283806. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780698411623. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Unlike the other Chance sisters, Daisy doesn’t want to get married or, considering her cockney accent, limp, and guttersnipe origins, become a “la-de-da lady.” Instead, she dreams of an upscale dress shop of her own, where she can put her considerable designing talent and keen eye for fashion to work. This is a dream she would never put in the hands of a husband, or anyone else, not even Irish shipping magnate Patrick Flynn, a man she’s clandestinely adored from the first day she met him. But Flynn has a dream, too, and plainspoken, career-focused Daisy is right at its core—if only he can get past her deeply rooted distrust and self-worth issues and convince her to take a chance on him. VERDICT Passionate and sumptuously witty, this final book in Gracie’s sparkling quartet has the entire household rooting (and plotting) for Daisy and Flynn to get things right. Gracie (The Spring Bride) lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Jenkins, Beverly. Stepping to a New Day. Morrow Paperbacks. (Blessings, Bk. 7). Jun. 2016. 290p. ISBN 9780062412638. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062412645. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Divorced and reclaiming her life, ­Genevieve Gibbs is not about to go back to being the submissive doormat she once was—or get involved with another man. Then widowered TC Barbour comes to town to spend time with his nephew and his two teenage daughters, and before long Genevieve is rethinking her decision. A town full of quirky, mostly lovable characters adds depth and interest to a touching story that blends humor and realism—and a pinch of the macabre—with exceptional skill. Once again, tiny Henry Adams, KS, springs to life in Jenkins’s masterful hands. VERDICT The author continues to build this engaging community in a sweet, wholesome, gentle read that offers a message of strength and redemption and will be welcomed by women’s fiction and romance fans. Jenkins (Forbidden) lives in southeastern Michigan.

redstarKelly, Brynn. Deception Island. HQN: Harlequin. Jun. 2016. 336p. ISBN 9780373789641. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781459293885. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE

deceptionisland.jpg6916French Legionnaire Rafe Angelito would do anything to get his young son back from the villains who took him—even kidnap Laura Hyland, the spoiled daughter of a powerful American senator. But when he learns to his horror that he’s kidnapped instead Laura’s double, Holly Ryan—and the real Laura has been “rescued”—the situation devolves into an even deadlier game of deception and betrayal as Rafe and Holly must learn to trust each other if their plans have any hope of succeeding. On a remote tropical island, a desperate father and a streetwise heroine who’s living a lie struggle to save themselves and a young boy—and stay alive in the process. ­VERDICT A taut romantic thriller readers won’t want to put down. Debut author Kelly lives on New Zealand’s North ­Island.

Kleypas, Lisa. Marrying Winterborne. Avon. Jun. 2016. 416p. ISBN 9780062371850. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062371843. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Walking into Rhys Winterborne’s office, unchaperoned and unbidden, is the hardest thing shy Lady Helen Ravenel has ever done, but she will do just about anything to repair their shattered relationship. Yet convincing Rhys is only the beginning. There’s her family, as well. A wealthy businessman with rough Welsh roots and a gently bred noblewoman who finally takes charge of her life find love and acceptance despite their considerable differences—and a devastating secret. This adventure sweeps its characters from elegant drawing rooms to garbage-strewn slums and provides a callous, delightfully smarmy villain to hate. VERDICT Picking up where Cold-Hearted Rake leaves off, this engaging tale brings class bias, illegitimacy, and assorted social issues of the Victorian era into sharp focus and seamlessly continues the series while hinting at escapades to come. Beautifully done. Kleypas lives in Washington State.

Long, Julie Anne. Hot in Hellcat Canyon. Avon. (Hellcat Canyon, Bk. 1). Jun. 2016. 374p. ISBN 9780062397614. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062397621. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

On track to put her life back together after an abusive marriage and a bitter divorce, wary Britt Langley has settled into life in tiny, quaint Hellcat Canyon, CA, and the last thing she’s looking for is another man—especially one like so-out-of-her-league TV star J.T. (John Tennessee) ­McCord. But J.T. isn’t about to take no for an answer, and Britt’s not about to give in—setting the scene for a sometimes prickly yet more often touching relationship that, like Britt’s “rescue plants,” is a joy to watch come to life. Sweet, spicy, and just plain fun, this lively romance introduces a laid-back Gold Country town, rich with history and teeming with characters you’ll want to know better, and launches an engaging, laughter-filled community series that won’t let readers go. VERDICT A departure from Long’s historical “Pennyroyal Green” titles, Hellcat Canyon has the same offbeat, small-town vibe and rural charm, promising another terrific series. Long (The Legend of Lyon Redmond) lives in Northern ­California.

redstarMallery, Susan. Daughters of the Bride. HQN: Harlequin. Jul. 2016. 416p. ISBN 9780373789719. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781460394359. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

daughtersofthebride.jpg6916There’s nothing like a wedding to ratchet up tension, but when it’s the long-­widowed mother of three sisters who is tying the knot and the plans get more complex by the day, the stage is set for a poignant narrative with more than a few surprises. With different but interwoven stories and personalities, Courtney, ­Sienna, and Rachel come into their own in a story that highlights three separate relationships (four if you count the blissful bride and groom). The multilevel plot is rich with assumptions, expectations, and classic family dynamics, plus exceptionally well-­developed and appealing characters. VERDICT Funny, tender, moving, and shot through with enough emotional drama to resonate with anyone who’s survived a family wedding, Mallery’s hardcover debut is pure delight and a rewarding read for romance and women’s fiction fans alike. Mallery (Best of My Love) lives in Seattle.

Maxwell, Cathy. The Fairest of Them All. Avon. (Marrying the Duke, Bk. 2). Jun. 2016. 384p. ISBN 9780062388636. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062388643. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Returning to London from America for the first time in years, Jack Whitridge nabs a young pickpocket who’s just robbed his compatriot and is startled to find he’s chased down a lady instead of a lad. Then he’s even more stunned when the same lady (who has escaped) turns out to be Lady Charlene Blanchard, the beauty his twin brother, the straitlaced Duke of Baynton, plans to wed. Naturally, Jack intends to get to the bottom of things, but falling in love with his brother’s “almost” intended isn’t in the cards—until Lady Char takes action. ­VERDICT Jealousy, old resentments, and misunderstandings drive the plot of this charming, historically grounded Regency that brings an independent, spirited couple together and cleverly paves the way for the last of the trilogy. Maxwell (The Match of the Century) lives in Virginia.

Novak, Brenda. Discovering You. Mira: Harlequin. (Whiskey Creek, Bk. 10). Jun. 2016. 395p. ISBN 9780778318804. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781459294158. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Terrified and furious when an unbalanced ex-boyfriend murders her husband in front of her, threatens her daughter, and then goes free for lack of evidence, ceramics artist India Sommers knows it’s up to her to find proof. Still, it won’t be easy. She certainly doesn’t want to involve her hot, attractive neighbor. But Rod Amos, fiercely protective and a bit of a knight in shining armor, is not about to be left out, especially when his relationship with India becomes more serious. Once again, Whiskey Creek’s authentic rustic flavor and endearing characters draw readers in to a story that keeps emotions running high and the pages turning. A secondary love relationship adds a dash of angsty fun and hints at another story down the road. VERDICT A heroine fighting for her future and a hero who has her back fall for each other in another heartfelt addition to Novak’s gold-dusted series. Novak (A Winter Wedding) lives in the Sacramento, CA, area.

redstarPutney, Mary Jo. Once a Soldier. Zebra: Kensington. (Rogues Redeemed, Bk. 1). Jul. 2016. 368p. ISBN 9781420140927. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781420140934. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

With Napoleon’s abdication and impending exile, Major Lord Will Masterson is ready to leave the battlefield and head home to England to take up his neglected responsibilities. However, a request takes him instead to San Gabriel, a tiny, war-­ravaged kingdom in the mountains between Portugal and Spain, where he is caught off guard by his attraction to the magnificent Athena Markham (who greets him at gunpoint!) and is dragged into the vulnerable country’s problems. A strong, independent, sometimes stubborn heroine who considers love beyond her reach and a fearless, risk-taking hero discover each other amid chaos and danger in a beautifully rendered romance that deals poignantly with the issues of self-worth, illegitimacy, and social class, as well as the cruel aftermath of war. VERDICT Exquisitely developed characters, a stunning setting, and the perfect amount of history and engineering detail make this an excellent start to what promises to be another of Putney’s insightful, riveting series. Here, spies bond (and then escape) on the eve of their scheduled execution. Putney (Not Always a Saint) lives in the ­Baltimore area.

Roberts, Nora. Bay of Sighs. Berkley. (Guardians, Bk. 2). Jun. 2016. 352p. ISBN 9780425280119. pap. $17; ebk. ISBN 9780698190740. PARANORMAL ROMANCE

With the Fire Star, the first of the three Stars of Fortune, retrieved and rehidden and their enemy temporarily thwarted, the six Guardians are preparing for their next assault. On the Isle of Capri, they await the obsessed, evil Nerezza’s next move—one that includes a lethal human recruit and an attack that will be much more dangerous than the last. This time the Blue Water Star is their goal, and as the path becomes clear, mermaid Annika and time traveler Sawyer King take the lead. Malevolence vies with goodness in this fast-paced story that skillfully balances violence and horror with tenderness and humor and brings a star-crossed couple together and another Star of Fortune to safety. VERDICT Lyrical, mesmerizing, and totally enthralling, this magical story seamlessly continues the trilogy begun with Stars of Fortune. Another gem from Roberts that will appeal to fantasy and romance fans. Roberts (The Obsession) lives in Keedysville, MD.

redstarShalvis, Jill. Sweet Little Lies. Avon. (Heartbreaker Bay, Bk. 1). Jul. 2016. 352p. ISBN 9780062448026. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062448033. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

sweetlittlelies.jpg6916From the time her parents died in a car crash caused by her drunk dad, Pru Harris has been quietly trying to repair the damaged lives of the others involved. And she has almost succeeded—except for Finn O’Riley. The magnetically attractive owner of the local Irish pub gave up his baseball dreams to keep his younger brother on track after their father was killed in the accident. More than anything, Pru wants the too-serious Finn to be happy, but when their teasing friendship takes a romantic turn, Pru knows she will risk everything (especially his happiness) when she tells him who she is. A nearsighted rescue dog adds a touch of comedy to this lively and enchanting story. VERDICT A colorful San Francisco setting, a welcoming Irish pub, a group of quirky better-’n-family friends, and a capricious wishing well provide the backdrop for a romance that is both heartrending and hilarious. Shalvis’s new series is a stunner. Shalvis (Nobody but You) lives in the Sierras near Lake Tahoe.

Singh, Nalini. Allegiance of Honor. Berkley. (Psy-Changeling, Bk. 15). Jun. 2016. 496p. ISBN 9781101987766. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781101987773. PARANORMAL ROMANCE

With the fall of Silence and the still fragile Trinity Accord newly adopted by the three races in their fight for a more stable world, Lucas Hunter, alpha of the Dark River leopards, is determined to see the new order survive. But pitted against the evil Consortium, the radical “Pure Psy” faction, and others who prefer to sow chaos, he and the other leaders have their hands full. Clever and relentless, these dark forces will stop at nothing to see Trinity fail, even targeting Lucas’s Psy/Changeling toddler daughter, the first of her kind. The active search for a kidnapped water changeling and the on­going wanderings of Xavier as he searches for his long-lost Nina add a subtle energy to the fabric of this exquisitely intricate story. Tense adventure, chilling political intrigue, tender passion, and engaging family and pack interactions infuse Singh’s latest addition to her popular paranormal series. Fans will be brought up-to-date with characters from previous novels, while the groundwork is laid for the second arc. VERDICT Readers new to the series will enjoy this stand-alone work, but going back to the earlier titles will provide useful background and context. Singh (Archangel’s Enigma) lives in New Zealand.

Trentham, Laura. Then He Kissed Me. St. Martin’s Paperbacks. (Cottonbloom, Bk. 2). Jul. 2016. 320p. ISBN 9781250077646. pap. $5.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466889804. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Nerdy Nash Hawthorne and scrappy Tally Fournette were childhood best friends until his mother’s death sent Nash off to live with his aunt across the river and out of Tally’s life. Now, 18 years later, Nash is back in Cottonbloom with a shiny PhD in history and a position at the local college; reconnecting with Tally is at the top of his to-do list. One encounter is all it takes for them to realize their link is still strong—and will become something more—but deep-seated insecurities still haunt them, and they both have a few ghosts to lay to rest. An assortment of diverse personalities add genuineness and spice up the action in a town divided by the river, state lines, and decades-old issues. VERDICT Appealing protagonists, a heartwarming relationship, and descriptions so vivid one can feel the steamy heat and the river mud between their toes make this a perfect, lazy summer read. Trentham (Kiss Me That Way) lives in South Carolina.

Whitman, Jessica. High Season. Grand Central. (Polo Season, Bk. 1). Jun. 2016. 368p. ISBN 9781455563616. pap. $13.99; ebk. ISBN 9781455563630. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Veterinarian Georgia Fellowes isn’t thrilled with the idea of leaving her family’s New York farm and heading off to Wellington, FL, for a polo competition. But her BFF Billy twists her arm because of his crush on one of the players, and he wants her usually spot-on opinion. Georgia heads south, only to end up staying longer when she is offered a temporary job as one of the team doctors. This flashy, superficial, jet-setting world is not for her, but the horses are wonderful, and Georgia can’t help being attracted to the virile, conflicted Alejandro Del Campo. VERDICT Energetic and rife with polo detail, superb horses, and a bit of machismo, this perfect book for the beach is the first of a series written under the aegis of Argentine polo star Nacho Figueras. He is the captain of the Black Watch Polo Team and divides his time between Argentina and Miami, FL. Whitman lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Second Time Around

Jeffries, Sabrina writing as Deborah Martin. Stormswept. Pocket. Jul. 2016. 400p. ISBN 9781451665543. pap. $6.99; ebk. ISBN 9781501130991. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Stunned when her husband, a man she thought lost at sea six years earlier, returns just as her betrothal to another is announced, a young woman struggles to regain her husband’s love and trust. This intense, rather dark Regency is graced with a dusting of Welsh culture and was first published by Topaz in 1995. Not as lighthearted as the author’s more recent romances written under the Sabrina Jeffries pseudonym, this is a gripping read.

Sands, Lynsay. Lady Pirate. Avon. Jul. 2016. 434p. ISBN 9780062019738. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062024909. HISTORICAL ROMANCE

A privateer heroine who needs to marry well in order to claim her inheritance and a nobleman who must do the same set the sparks flying when they set out to achieve their goals in this sexy, madcap adventure enhanced by memorable supporting characters, hilarious dialog and situations, and Sands’s sassy wit. First published by Dorchester in 2001.

In Memoriam

Jo Beverley (1947–2016)

jobeverley.jpg6916Historical romance fans lost another legendary writer with the death of Jo Beverley on May 23 in Yorkshire, England. She was the recipient of a number of honors, including five Romance Writers of America (RWA) RITA Awards, and was a member of the RWA Hall of Fame. She wrote stories in several historical periods and is especially noted for her unforgettable characters; clever, often edgy plots; and historical accuracy. “The Malloren Chronicles” (Georgian) and “The Company of Rogues” (Regency) series are two of her most popular. Her works impacted the entire genre, and many are classics. Her final book is scheduled for publication next year. See a tribute by fellow writer Mary Jo Putney on the Word Wenches blog (ow.ly/zRBs300OvD6).

Roberta Gellis (1927–2016)

Longtime romance readers will be saddened to learn that Roberta Gellis, one of the genre’s iconic authors and the 1986 winner of what is now the RWA Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award, died on May 6 in Michigan. She wrote almost 50 novels in a number of genres and under several pseudonyms but is best known in the romance community for her classic historical medieval series, “The Roselynde Chronicles” (ow.ly/ry53300Ovhw).

Librarians’ Day Update

RWA2016LOGOTNEvents have been finalized for this year’s RWA Librarians’ Day (Wednesday, July 13), in San Diego. In addition to luncheon speaker Jennifer Armentrout, presentations include diverse and self-published books in library collections by RWA’s 2016 Librarian of the Year Robin Bradford; a discussion of romance characters by authors Megan Crane, Erika Kelly, Jeannie Moon, Jane Porter, and Sherry Thomas; an interactive panel on providing effective read-alikes, with librarians Wendy Crutcher, Katie Dunneback, and Lisa Schimmer and author Sarah MacLean; and the screening of the film Love Between the Covers (ow.ly/Z0FC300PbKA).

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About Kristin Ramsdell

Kristin Ramsdell is Librarian Emerita, California State University, East Bay. She is the author of the romance section of What Do I Read Next? A Reader's Guide to Current Genre Fiction (Gale, annual) and Romance Fiction: A Guide to the Genre (Libraries Unlimited)