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Best Romance Novels of 2015

Burrowes is at the top of her game, and this latest offering is not to be missed.


A gently bred spinster scandalizes her family by providing medical care to the poor people in the local village, and even falling in love with a handsome businessman can’t dissuade her from her mission.

Lady Nita Haddonfield learned basic midwifery and first aid from her late mother but has taken her medical knowledge to the next level with years of experience and rigorous study. She spends her evenings reading medical tracts in Latin and German and subscribes to forward-thinking techniques like washing surgical tools between patients. But Nita’s siblings, especially her older brother, the Earl of Bellefonte, worry about Nita exposing herself—and them—to contagion or wearing herself out laboring to help others. Then Tremaine St. Michael, a Scottish and French businessman who doesn't use his title of comte, visits the family in order to buy a herd of rare sheep from the earl. He's captivated by Nita’s intelligence and selflessness. But he too thinks she’s foolish to risk her own health caring for the poor. He hopes marriage to him will occupy her so she won’t be tempted to hare off in the middle of the night delivering babies. But he underestimates Nita’s dedication and must find a way to accept her desire to protect her native village and its inhabitants from the incompetent local physician. The second installment of Burrowes’ (The Duke’s Disaster, 2015, etc.) new True Gentlemen series is a tightly woven story that deals with many of the world’s timeless moral issues—poverty, domestic violence, professional recognition for women, and animal rights. The characters are complicated and compelling and experience enough personal growth during the course of the novel to keep the reader enthralled.

Burrowes is at the top of her game, and this latest offering is not to be missed.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4926-2102-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

A brilliant, enchanting, and soul-satisfying romance.


A young debutante creates a fictional soldier-sweetheart, conveniently away in the war, to avoid a London season, then is stunned when, years later, the embodiment of her imagined beau shows up on her doorstep, prepared to marry her.

Miss Madeline Gracechurch is good with drawing pencils but terrified of drawing rooms and especially crowds, becoming so painfully shy that she literally freezes up, practically unable to speak or move. So, at 16, on the cusp of a London season, she creates a fictional suitor and actually writes to him, Capt. Logan MacKenzie, then spends five years "corresponding" with her fictional love, pouring out her teenage heart and posting letters off, imagining them landing in some enormous lost-mail room. Finally, out of guilt for the long deception she’s created, she kills him off and pretends to go into mourning for her valiant captain, fallen in battle. In the meantime, she’s inherited a castle in Scotland and has established a career as an illustrator for naturalists. So it's something of a shock when one Highland Capt. MacKenzie arrives at her castle with a band of soldiers, ready to settle in, in effect blackmailing her into marriage by threatening to release her letters to a scandal sheet. “We marry for our own reasons, as a mutually beneficial agreement. I get the property. You’ll get your letters back.” Agreeing to a wedding but holding off the consummation, Maddie plans to find and destroy the letters, hence ending his hold over her. As the days pass, however, she discovers the man she created in letters is nothing to the one in the flesh and is astonished to find her own confidence and self-worth blossoming with his arrival and attention. But her fake, resurrected captain has a complicated past and mistrusts things she holds dear. Dare’s latest begins with a fairy-tale twist of fate, then leads readers on a mesmerizing and intense emotional journey that explores love in many forms and the powerful pull of dreams.

A brilliant, enchanting, and soul-satisfying romance.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-234902-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

A bright, beautiful gem.


When Bollywood star Ria Parkar returns to Chicago for her cousin's wedding after having been away for 10 years, she must face Vikram, the boy she abandoned, who believes she chose a life of wealth and fame over him.

As a child, Ria savored summers at her beloved Aunt Uma’s home in Chicago, spent with her cousin Nikhil and his cousin Vikram. She and Vikram both considered Uma’s home a refuge, but when they fell in love as teens, Vikram’s successful mother made it clear her plans for her son definitely didn’t include Ria, the tainted daughter of a family with a history of mental illness. Self-possessed even at 18, Vikram was ready to claim her, but that was before the shameful family tragedy that compelled Ria to turn her back on their love to protect him, allowing him to believe her capable of betrayal in order to follow fame and fortune with a Bollywood career. Now, a decade later, traveling back to Chicago for Nikhil’s wedding is a minefield of memories, both good and bad, and a reminder of what normal looks like after superstardom in India. Navigating her wounded heart, her Ice Princess facade, a nearly forgotten sea of family love from her childhood, and an angry, beloved boy-turned-man who both wants her and hates her make for a complicated trip, especially once the secrets bubble to the surface, threatening her career and her happiness. Vikram has always been the boy who rescued her, but maybe the time has come for her to confront the past and save them both. Dev’s exquisitely written second novel seamlessly integrates the explosive tension of Ria and Vikram’s love story with the universal complications of family, identity, and feeling like an outsider, even in your own skin. The modern Indian-American setting offers a glimpse of a rich culture and enhances the book’s overt and subtle messages of love, compassion, hope, and common ground.

A bright, beautiful gem.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61773-015-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

Higgins’ masterful storytelling and penetrating study of human nature combined with a dollop of humor make for breathtaking,...


When Connor O’Rourke decides he wants to marry longtime on-again, off-again secret girlfriend Jessica Dunn and she turns him down flat, he tells her it’s over—but no one else will do, despite his sister’s attempts at matchmaking and his wish to get over her once and for all.

Connor fell in love with Jessica when he was 12 years old, and despite being one of the few boys she never slept with in high school, his feelings for her have never changed. Now, 20 years later, and after 10 years of sneaking around Manningsport in a relationship that grows hot and cold—depending on Jessica’s moods and what's going on in her life—Connor is convinced they're ready to take the next step and proposes. Jessica wants none of it. Her mentally challenged brother hates Connor after a childhood trauma, and she knows he’ll never accept Connor as her husband. Plus, her father, who abandoned them years ago, is back, claiming to be sober and wanting to try again. Just when Jessica thinks her life is going well—landing her dream job at Blue Heron Winery, saving enough money for a home of her own, Davey settled into some level of independence—the messy emotions of her past are rising up, complicating things. When Connor tries to convince Jessica that some obstacles might not be impossible, she lashes out, until more emotionally intense events reset their mercurial cycle. Finally Connor draws a line, and Jessica must decide if she’ll reach for a future with the man she loves, despite her fear and insecurities. Blue Heron fans will not be disappointed in this emotional novel that spans Connor and Jessica’s 20-year love story and offers peeks into their volatile relationship that make the final chapter of their romance and the series even more poignant and gratifying.

Higgins’ masterful storytelling and penetrating study of human nature combined with a dollop of humor make for breathtaking, heart-wrenching, compelling romance.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-373-78908-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Harlequin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

Historical romance at its smart, poignant best.


Desperate to keep her disabled nephew and her secret identity as a writer safe, Mia Carrington blackmails the Duke of Pindar into marrying her.

During a particularly humiliating episode when they were both 15, Mia swore that the last person she’d ever marry would be Evander "Vander" Brody, the future Duke of Pindar. Since Mia’s father and Vander’s mother scandalized society with their long-term affair, Mia would have been happy if she'd never had to see him again. So it’s especially galling when, years later, having been left at the altar by her fiance, she has to strong-arm him into marrying her. Her intention is simply to enter into a marriage of convenience, allowing her to take guardianship of her physically infirm nephew, whom she plans to support through her lucrative, though secret, writing career. Vander, convinced that she's had a long-standing attraction to him, turns the tables and agrees to the marriage while setting his own conditions to assuage his battered pride. After they marry, he discovers he’s wrong about her motives and that his angry retaliation has jeopardized his own future, since it quickly becomes clear that Mia and her nephew, Charlie, have become necessary to his happiness. And it turns out that they're also the targets of a diabolical relative, who may have been responsible for making Mia’s fiance disappear. James follows Three Weeks With Lady X (2014) with a sequel that matches its excellence and intensity. With peeks at Thorn and India from Lady X, as well as other secondary characters and storylines that enhance and add texture to an already complex plot, James gives readers a welcome opportunity to revisit a popular community and flexes her powerful romantic storytelling muscles, somehow getting even stronger.

Historical romance at its smart, poignant best.

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-222391-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

An astute and charming look at friendship, love and self-discovery.


After her glamorous life falls apart, Lila Alders is left with nothing; she returns home to Black Dog Bay to re-evaluate only to find her mother in crisis and her childhood home in jeopardy.

When Lila comes limping back to Black Dog Bay after her marriage and her career disintegrate, she looks forward to sanctuary and comfort. Instead she finds a financial crisis and her mother in denial. Exhausted and emotionally depleted, Lila rallies after she discovers her mother’s treasure trove of vintage clothing from her young modeling days. Deciding to open a vintage clothing boutique, Lila reconnects with her high school boyfriend—now a prominent Black Dog Bay real estate owner and developer—and arranges to rent a space, then sets her mind to convincing her mother to part with her fashion collection. Both she and her hometown have changed. Her friends have moved onshe and her ex-boyfriend are more like friends than lovers (despite their best efforts), and Black Dog Bay has much more to offer her than it ever did in high school, including a whole set of interesting new friends and an intriguing new relationship with a man she doesn’t quite remember from her youth. Enigmatic Malcolm has a mysterious military past, a highsecurity-clearance career and a wicked way with a sewing machine—nothing she ever thought to look for in a man yet somehow perfect for her in the here and now. Kendrick follows Cure For the Common Break-up (2014) with another enchanting, heartwarming Black Dog Bay–set story of reinvention and romance. Fans will be happy to see Summer, Ingrid, Dutch and other characters integrated into this story, and the return to the lightly magical town feels like a welcome vacation to a favorite resort. Kendrick has a light, breezy writing style that manages to take readers on unexpectedly poignant journeys with some startling twists and turns on the road.

An astute and charming look at friendship, love and self-discovery.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-451-46586-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: New American Library

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

A gratifying series starter from a not-to-be-missed romance author.


From the The Ravenels series , Vol. 1

Inheriting an earldom riddled with debt, Devon Ravenel intends to sell everything off and sink back into his feckless life—until he sets foot on the land and feels the seductive pull of responsibility and meets the beautiful widow trying to hold everything together.

Devon detested his cousin Theo, the Earl of Trenear, but he's extremely annoyed when Theo dies and he inherits the title and the ramshackle estate that goes with it. Determined to get every cent he can from his inheritance and then turn his back, he's stunned to discover that he feels an unwelcome responsibility toward his legacy. Figuring out how to save Eversby Priory becomes an exhausting burden, but working toward a difficult goal has a positive effect on him and on his brother, West, who takes on the unofficial role of estate manager. Both men, who had previously avoided emotional attachments, quickly become connected to their three young female cousins who live on the estate and to Kathleen, Theo’s widow, who has been running things with graceful competence since her husband's death. Devon spends most of his time in London, but when he's involved in a devastating train accident on his way back to Hampshire for Christmas, Devon and Kathleen admit to a sizzling attraction despite the fact that she's in mourning and he is resolved to never marry. Kleypas begins a new historical romance series with two damaged characters who might find happiness if they can ever learn to trust themselves and one another. Intricately and elegantly crafted, intensely romantic, and with secondary characters and an epilogue that will leave readers anxiously awaiting more.

A gratifying series starter from a not-to-be-missed romance author.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-237181-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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