Did you get to RWA last week? If so, what was your favorite part?

I got there late, but was able to pack in a lot while I was in New York. It was a lovely re-affirmation of all the great things the romance community offers—camaraderie, generosity, and amazing writers who know their business and their craft and are willing to share tips and experiences.

Oh, right, and great books!

So many options out now and in the next few weeks I don’t even know where to start, but here are some suggestions I’ve read, and some that I missed but hope to get to soon:

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Kristan Higgins makes a wonderful women’s fiction debut with If You Only Knew, which comes out August 25. Two sisters navigate their confusing love lives with help and support from each other. I loved this book! 

One of my favorites, Molly O’Keefe, moves into more erotic territory with her upcoming September release, Everything I Left Unsaid, under a new pen name, M. O’Keefe.  A woman on the run from her abusive husband winds up in a trailer park, and picks up a ringing phone, leading her on a journey of emotional and sexual awakening. Extremely sexy, poignant, and eloquent.

Lisa Kleypas wrote Joe Travis’story—Brown-Eyed Girl—and it is such a wonderful completion to the Travis brothers arc. Similar in tone and storytelling, fans of that series will recognize how perfectly it fits in with the everything unsaidothers and enjoy the emotional game of tug-of-war that heroine Avery has with herself and Joe as she tries to figure out what she really wants and how to get it. 

October will also see the release of Kleypas’ Cold-Hearted Rake, the start of a new historical series, which not only sets up the rest of the series in a pitch-perfect way but puts Devon and Kathleen in conflict as well as unexpected harmony as they try to figure out how to save his estate. Kleypas deals with the road toward happily-ever-after with her inimitable subtle brilliance and the soul-satisfying romanticism her fans yearn for. 

Some books I missed but hope to catch soon?

I thoroughly enjoyed Kelly Moran’s first Covington Cove novel, Return to Me, and the next title in the series, All of Me, releases in early September. A bestselling novelist facing writer’s block finds a muse in the tutor next door to the beach house he’s staying in for the summer. But they both have secrets, which could ultimately keep them apart. Sounds like a perfect beach read, doesn’t it?

Also: The Art of Sinning by Sabrina Jeffries. Sabrina Jeffries. Need I say more? No, but I will! This novel begins a new series, and features artist Jeremy who wants to paint the spirited heroine, Yvette. She agrees, if he’ll help her infiltrate the brothels of London in order to find a missing woman and solve a family mystery. Delicious, yes?

And finally, Pam Jenoff’s newest, Last Summer on Chelsea Beach, looks both poignant and heart-wrenching, and like a perfect book for August, which this year marks the 70th anniversary of the official end of World War II. Adelina, a Jewish teenager, flees Fascist Italy for Philadelphia, where she falls for an Irish Catholic boy. Then war intervenes and tragedy strikes and Adeline has to find new purposeas she moves from Philadelphia to DC to London, in the midst of personal struggles and global war. Jenoff’s books are generally more women’s fiction than strict romance, but always contain strong romantic elements and stories that are beautiful and breathtaking.

Now…where to start?

And speaking of starting, I wanted to share this lovely picture from RWA, which is a photo of most of the RITA™ nominees for Best First Book. (Front to back: Alyssa Alexander, Natalie Meg Evans, Sonali Dev, AE Jones, Patience Griffin, Clara Kensie, Elia Winters. Photo courtesy of Sonali Dev.)

RWA post

Romance is alive and well, with terrific new authors emerging all the time.

Lots to celebrate in romance! So what are you reading? What are you loving?

(Hope to see everyone at Read-A-Romance Month, where we’ll be celebrating romance all through August with essays on The Joy of Romance. The fun starts on August 1 at ReadARomanceMonth.com with essays by Lisa Kleypas, Sonali Dev and this year’s “token reader”and romance superfan Lorelei from Lorelei’s Lit Lair.) 

Bobbi Dumas is a freelance writer, book reviewer, romance advocate and founder of ReadARomanceMonth.comShe mostly writes about books and romance for NPRThe Huffington Post and Kirkus.