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Best Romance of 2013

Bright, witty dialogue and superb characterization are the backbones of a fun, intricate historical storyline, and you may...

A DUKE NEVER YIELDS

When Abigail Harewood—sexually innocent yet effervescently determined to live life to the fullest—decides to take a lover, she sets her sights on notorious rake the Duke of Wallingford, who has just resolved on a year of chastity and sober living.

Abigail flees London with her sister and cousin for a year in Italy and decides it's a perfect opportunity to explore sensual pleasure. Since she has sworn to never marry yet wants to experience a full, vibrant life, she feels the need to check this goal off her Edwardian checklist. She meets the Duke of Wallingford in an inn and considers him a prime candidate, and when, through a contractual misunderstanding, it turns out that her party and his (consisting of his brother and their illegitimate uncle) are sharing the same Tuscan castle, she sets out to seduce him. However, Wallingford has sworn off his rakish ways, and the road to Abigail’s happiness is further hindered by an irritating wager the two sets of relatives make that heightens the stakes if he fails. And then there are the mysterious servants that must be more than they seem, the enchanting setting of an Italian castle and Abigail’s eerie sense that there is more magic afoot than Wallingford’s spellbinding presence. The third of a debut trilogy loosely based on Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost with a distinct nod to the great operatic works of Giuseppe Verdi, this is a mesmerizing, enthralling romance that starts out with a sparkling, irrepressible heroine and a brooding, damaged hero and only gets better and better page by page.  

Bright, witty dialogue and superb characterization are the backbones of a fun, intricate historical storyline, and you may at turns laugh out loud and wipe your eyes at this couple’s entertaining, tender path to their happily ever after.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-425-25118-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Berkley Sensation

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

On the day her fiance came out and left her at the altar, Faith escaped to the West Coast, where she’s had a thriving...

THE BEST MAN

When Faith Holland was abandoned at the altar three years ago, she left her hometown for San Francisco to regroup; coming home to Manningsport, she’ll have to confront her past and Levi Cooper, the disturbingly handsome chief of police she blames for ruining her life.

On the day her fiance came out and left her at the altar, Faith escaped to the West Coast, where she’s had a thriving professional life and a comical romantic life. Summoned home for a few months to work the harvest at her family’s winery and help with some crisis management, Faith realizes that some things in her small town will never change—for the good or the bad—but she knows the time has come to establish a new reality with her ex, her family and maybe even Levi Cooper, the best man who forced Jeremy to be honest with her and himself on their wedding day. It’s so much easier to blame and despise him; if she lets down her guard, she might have to deal with their short but profound shared past and her own guilt and secrets from a long-ago tragedy that has haunted her for most of her life. Higgins’ newest heart-tugging romantic comedy juggles a spectrum of emotionally powerful elements, including the death of a mother, the abandonment of a father and a sigh-worthy high school romance gone awry. With her typical engaging voice, compelling storytelling and amusing dialogue, Higgins keeps the audience flipping through pages as quickly as possible, but it is her spot-on ability to make her characters at once funny, authentic and vulnerable—vulnerable to the point of breaking, so they can heal, stronger and better and more able to love—that is her true genius and guarantees most romance fans will both laugh out loud and get teary, sometimes at the same time. Another sweet, touching must-read for Higgins fans and anyone who enjoys a perfect combination of humor and romance.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-373-77792-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

Romantic suspense with a psychic twist—or, a little bit of everything, all wrapped up in wonderful.

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DREAM EYES

When Gwen Frazier returns to Wilby, Ore., to investigate the death of her mentor, she knows she’s opening up psychic wounds she’d rather forget, and when her best friend sends in investigator Judson Coppersmith to help, she realizes she’s met her match, romantically and psychically. Will their attraction, skills and talent be enough, in time, to solve the mystery and save them both?

Psychic Gwen Frazier would just as soon avoid Wilby, Ore., since she was nearly the victim of a serial killer two years ago, when she was participating in a psychic research study. But when the researcher, Gwen’s friend and mentor Evelyn Ballinger, winds up dead, and names Gwen as her sole heir, she simply can’t stay away. Returning to the town opens Gwen up to even more danger, physically and psychically, and turns the sheriff’s suspicious mind to Gwen as the prime suspect. Gwen’s friend sends her Judson Coppersmith, of the wealthy Coppersmith family, a renowned investigator who has some strong psychic talent himself, as well as a wildfire physical attraction. Judson might as well be the cavalry as far as Gwen is concerned, with his security and weapons skills, plus his psychic intuition toward violent crime. He's just what she needs to solve the crime and stay alive. As bodies start piling up in Wilby, it becomes clear that Gwen is once again a target. Judson and Gwen must race to find a link between the past and the present to solve the mystery and catch the killer determined to take Gwen’s life. And as the two work toward answers, they’ll realize just how good they are together—in oh-so-many ways. This is the second novel in the Dark Legacy series from Krentz. The master storyteller once again creates authentic, well-drawn characters, a quick-paced, engrossing plot set against a backdrop of a psychic world imprinted effortlessly on our own and a relatable romance one can’t help but root for.

Romantic suspense with a psychic twist—or, a little bit of everything, all wrapped up in wonderful.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-15895-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2012

At moments heart-wrenching, at moments comedic, at all times entertaining and satisfying, this book deserves a read if...

ONE GOOD EARL DESERVES A LOVER

When Lady Philippa Marbury realizes she is headed into marriage and marital intimacy without the appropriate knowledge, she does what any proper woman of science should do—research; and who better to approach as a resource than Mr. Cross, the most notorious rake in London?

Pippa Marbury knows she’s odd, so she’s grateful when a perfectly nice earl asks for her hand in marriage. However, she’s a little surprised by how difficult it is to garner information as to what to expect on her wedding night and resents the typical Victorian “lie back and think of England” response. Approaching her brother-in-law’s business partner, notorious reprobate Cross, she’s shocked and disappointed when he turns her down. Unbeknownst to Pippa, though, the damage has been done. Cross is well and truly intrigued by the strange little lady scientist, and her determination to get the answers she’s looking for will lead them both down a dangerous path of passion, secrets and betrayals, ultimately bringing Pippa to a whole new understanding of love, pleasure and sacrifice. She’ll also force her way into the shady Victorian London of gaming hells and the society of prostitutes, while making some enemies who will threaten her physical and emotional safety. As Cross watches, fascinated and bemused, and tries to block her at every turn for her own protection, Pippa stamps her own unique mark on a decidedly male territory—the gambling world—and comes into her own, staking a claim on the man of her dreams and the life she never knew she wanted. McLean’s second Rule of Scoundrels novel is a clever, original historical romance with compelling main characters who are so engaging and enchantingly well-matched you simply don’t want to see their stories end. Cross is a fallen-angel archetype with a damaged, guilt-ridden past, but it is the delightful, captivating Pippa whom readers will fall in love with and root for, and readers will love Cross just a little bit more because he does, too. 

At moments heart-wrenching, at moments comedic, at all times entertaining and satisfying, this book deserves a read if you’re a romance fan.

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-206853-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2012

A beautifully written, exquisitely seductive, powerfully romantic gem of a romance.

THE LUCKIEST LADY IN LONDON

Felix Rivendale, Lord Wrenworth, has spent his adult life burnishing his reputation as the most sought-after gentleman in England, so he is flummoxed when Louisa Cantwell—an unknown nobody—captures his attention and his interest; he’s not concerned about his heart, however, since he’s convinced he doesn’t have one.

Every man and woman in London is besotted with Lord Wrenworth, considered by one and all to be The Ideal Gentleman. So lofty are his wealth, manner and reputation that Louisa, attending her first season at age 24 and with almost nothing to recommend her beyond her wit, even temper and formidable preparation, has never even truly considered him as a possible catch. Yet, astonishingly, in one breathtaking and heartbreaking moment, she meets him and catches his attention, simultaneously convincing herself that he remains unattainable yet wishing with all her heart he wasn’t. From that moment, Louisa and Felix enter into a seductive courtship that quietly breaks many straight-laced Victorian rules without anyone knowing about it, keeping them explosively attracted to each other. Louisa is always suspicious of Felix’s motives, and Felix is determined to protect himself from anyone’s capacity to get close enough to see beneath his purposefully constructed perfection. This becomes even more problematic once he actually offers for her and makes her his wife. Thomas delivers a masterpiece of attraction, seduction, mistrust and masks, beguiling readers with two people who are so perfect for each other, they can’t even trust their own emotions, since they both know how deceptive and dangerous the other can be. 

A beautifully written, exquisitely seductive, powerfully romantic gem of a romance.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-425-26888-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Berkley Sensation

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

With vignettes from Nazi-occupied Denmark and a spotlight on the noble actions of an engaged Danish citizenry that...

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THE APPLE ORCHARD

Antiques treasure hunter Tess Delaney lives a high-octane existence and is on the cusp of the success she’s fought for, so now may not be the best time to question everything; but as events pile up and secrets are uncovered, forcing her to re-evaluate, she may find that a perfect life she never dreamed of is within her reach.

On the very day Tess expects a huge promotion in her highly prestigious antiques brokerage firm, banker Dominic Rossi turns up in her San Francisco office to inform her that she has a grandfather and a half sister she never knew about; that her grandfather is in a coma; and that she’s named in his will as half owner of an orchard that’s about to go under. Raised by a single mother who traveled extensively and an unmarried grandmother who owned an antiques shop, Tess has always been attracted to the idea of family but has had limited exposure to the reality. She is drawn to the honorable Dominic, her welcoming sister Isabel and life in Archangel, Calif., and she quickly becomes entwined in discovering the truth about the family she never knew, bringing her talent and experience as a researcher, historian and treasure hunter to the many secrets buried in the sands of time. Underneath it all, a mysterious missing heirloom may bring them all financial and emotional salvation, and in the process of discovery, Tess will begin to understand the true power of love, community, family and honor. Wiggs’ latest is a lovely, poignant story of a woman who thinks she has it all until she discovers she truly does, and none of it is what she expected.

With vignettes from Nazi-occupied Denmark and a spotlight on the noble actions of an engaged Danish citizenry that reportedly managed to save 99 percent of its Jewish population, Wiggs tells a layered, powerful story of love, loss, hope and redemption.

Pub Date: April 30, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7783-1493-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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