In the third installment of Avon Books and Powell’s Books Mutual Attractions series, Lorraine Heath’s picks her favorite romance titles. Check out our first installment from Julia Quinn here and our second installment from Jennifer L. Armentrout here.
Baseball, Texas, hot guys, and books — four of my favorite things, and when they all come together, it’s magic. As a huge fan of Jennifer Bernard’s sexy Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel series, I’ve been waiting impatiently for All of Me ever since I learned that she was starting a new series about baseball players: Love between the Bases. I was thrilled with the opportunity to get an early read. The story didn’t disappoint. Caleb Hart is an up-and-coming pitcher in the major league until past secrets return to haunt him and throw off his pitching game. He finds himself in the minors, striving to regain control of the baseball and his life. Sadie Merritt has her own past to deal with — not quite so secret after her ex-boyfriend destroyed her reputation in a very unpleasant public way as payback for her breaking up with him. Getting involved with a baseball player known for trouble isn’t part of her plan for getting her life back on track, but Caleb’s charms are hard to resist.
I thoroughly enjoyed the repartee and heat between these two characters as they strive to move beyond the past and not be defined by damaging incidents over which they had no control. They’re perfect for each other; they’re strong characters with strong values who are searching for something better and find it with each other. The cast of secondary characters is wonderful, and I can’t wait to read the other players’ stories.
A Recommended Read:
Kathleen Baldwin is the award-winning author of several traditional Regency romances and one of my faves. With her latest release, the first book in the Stranje House series, A School for Unusual Girls, she has turned her gift for painting a canvas rich with history to the young adult market, where she has created a provocative tale in which the Napoleonic Wars serve as an engrossing backdrop.
Miss Georgian Fitzwilliam has been carted off to Stranje House because her scientific experiments are not the sort of thing that a young lady pursues — especially when they set her father’s stables on fire. She needs to learn to comport herself as a proper lady, and Headmistress Emily Stranje is known for her harsh measures that will quickly bring unruly ladies into line. But Miss Stranje has secretive plans for the sharp, curious, and clever girls under her tutelage, plans that will thrust them into the dangerous world of espionage.
Lord Sebastian Wyatt is on a secret mission to discover an invisible ink that can be used in Britain’s war effort. Georgian holds the key to creating it. As they work together to perfect the solution, they find themselves drawn to each other — and Georgian knows that achieving success will mean sending this young man she has come to care for into harm’s way.
I love all the strong girls who have been exiled to Stranje House. They’re smart, courageous, and daring. I found them extremely relatable and the perfect role models for today’s teens. The story is full of intrigue, adventure, and romance that will keep the reader of any age turning the pages.
A New Discovery:
Evernight is the fifth book in Kristen Callihan’s Darkest London series, but it is the first book of hers that I read. While I’m certain reading the other books would have enhanced the reading experience for me, I didn’t feel as though I was missing out on anything, nor did I become lost when I jumped into the middle of this incredible world she has created. (That said, I will be reading the other books in the series.) I adore tormented and tortured heroes, and Will Thorne is one of the most tortured heroes I’ve run across. He is a demon. A fallen angel rips out his heart and replaces it with a mechanical one created by Holly Evernight. After being rescued, all Thorne wants is revenge.
But Thorne’s mechanical heart is slowly taking over his body, turning him into metal, and driving him mad with agony. When he finds and attacks Evernight, he discovers that her touch has the power to make the metal retreat, to take away the horrific pain. But the peace she can provide may be short-lived because someone is trying to kill her. Thorne is determined to keep her alive until she can discover a way to tame the metal so it no longer has the ability to spread throughout his body.
Kristen has written a tightly woven tapestry of Victorian London, steampunk, paranormal elements, and unique characters. Every aspect of this rich and creative world held me captive. I think it’ll do the same for you.
A Desert Island Keeper:
Every now and then you run across a story that is so lushly written, has a plot so compelling and characters so vividly drawn that you can barely remember a time when the story didn’t exist. It’s an instant classic. Sarah MacLean’s No Good Duke Goes Unpunished falls into that category for me.
The Duke of Lamont, known throughout darkest London as Temple and behind his back as the Killer Duke, is believed — when he was a young, randy buck — to have murdered his father’s fiancée, Mara Lowe. Because he can’t remember the specifics of that night, can only remember waking up to blood-soaked sheets and the woman gone, he’s not convinced that he didn’t kill her. As cofounder of the Fallen Angel, a notorious casino, he reigns over the fighting ring. Anyone who amasses a debt gambling in the glittering world above has a chance for redemption in the hell below, by facing Temple — who has never lost a bout. Sarah’s opening description about fighting, about why Temple fights to forget all that he lost, is some of the most powerful writing I’ve ever encountered.
Twelve years after that fateful night, Miss Mara Lowe resurfaces. Her brother is in immense debt to the Fallen Angel, and Temple refuses to fight him. Mara has built a new life for herself in the intervening years, but she is willing to come forward and reveal she is alive, if her brother’s debt will be forgiven.
But Temple has suffered too much and too long with his own doubts about that night and Society’s suspicions regarding him to let her off easily. He wants a grand unveiling on his terms, but as they prepare for it, he begins to understand why she ran off, why she was willing to let the world believe he’d killed her. And she comes to comprehend the full extent of what her actions cost him.
I adore so many things about this story. The beautiful prose. The strong-willed characters. The well-matched hero and heroine. The way their love develops until, by the end of the story, they are each willing to sacrifice everything for the other.
No Good Duke Goes Unpunished is truly one of my favorite romances of all time. If you haven’t read it, you owe it to yourself to give the third book in the Rules of Scoundrels series a read. While you don’t have to read all the books in the series to enjoy this story, I highly recommend you treat yourself to reading them all. It will enrich your enjoyment of the third book — especially the reveal at the end, which is absolutely brilliant.
Lorraine Heath wrote her first story at seven, and it involved a fisherman who fell in love with a mermaid. She has since moved on to writing about sexy cowboys and dashing English Lords (sometimes, cleverly, in the same book!).
In The Duke and the Lady in Red, the finale of Heath’s Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James Place series, sparks fly as the last wicked rogue meets his match. When Rosalind Sharpe gains the attention of the deliciously wicked Duke of Avendale, she’s torn between her distracting attraction to the notorious rogue and the knowledge that he — rich as Croesus — is the perfect target for a deception that will put her swindling days behind her.
However, Avendale is no fool. After he discovers the tantalizing lady packing up to leave London with his coins in tow, he confronts her with a scandalous proposition: she can have all the money she requires… for a week in his bed.
Desperate for the funds, Rose agrees, but on one condition: he must never question her motives. Avendale quickly sees beneath her mask and discovers she is more than passion and pleasure — she is everything he has ever desired. But claiming her requires he unveil her secrets and lose her forever. Unless he can put his own dark past aside and risk everything for a chance at love.