A try for a sexier Beatrice and Benedick that occasionally becomes overdone.

TO LOVE AND TO LOATHE

From the The Regency Vows series , Vol. 2

The second in a series of Julia Quinn–like sensuous rom-coms.

Diana Bourne decided at age 18 that in order to make her way in the world, a viscountess with no significant dowry had better marry money. And since Diana never really expected much more from the "addlepated" male gender, it really didn't matter who. Of course, her cheeks blush in the presence of Jeremy Overington, the Marquess of Willingham. But though he's blond and beautiful, he's also broke, a notorious rake, and a very poor candidate. Besides, when they're together, they spend all their time trading witty insults. Five years pass, and Diana, who succeeded in marrying well, is now Lady Templeton, a widow and—with her ample bosom and "elegant slouch"—the toast of the ton. But Diana's older husband, the viscount, was never much in the feathers, and she wonders how she can gain some new passionate experience. Diana doesn't want to marry again. Why would she? She's young, free, and wealthy. As romantic novels would have it, Jeremy also needs some help. The married mistress he just spurned has intimated that he might not be the lover he thought he was. Jeremy asks Diana to spend time at his country pile, Elderwild, with a bunch of fashionable 20-something couples and his grandmother, the outspoken Marchioness of Willingham. And would she mind giving him her opinion of his bedroom technique? Interestingly for romance, though Lady Di loves his kisses, she's critical of his finger work. And she guides him on how best to make sure his future lovers are not faking it. Through traded barbs and some overly frenetic plotting, the lovers come to understand that the uncaring faces they present to society are not the people they really are. Waters introduces an interesting rival for Diana, the desperate-for-marriage sister of an earl, who turns out to have different gender goals.

A try for a sexier Beatrice and Benedick that occasionally becomes overdone.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-9821-6087-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A heartfelt look at taking second chances, in life and in love.

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BEACH READ

Two struggling authors spend the summer writing and falling in love in a quaint beach town.

January Andrews has just arrived in the small town of North Bear Shores with some serious baggage. Her father has been dead for a year, but she still hasn’t come to terms with what she found out at his funeral—he had been cheating on her mother for years. January plans to spend the summer cleaning out and selling the house her father and “That Woman” lived in together. But she’s also a down-on-her-luck author facing writer’s block, and she no longer believes in the happily-ever-after she’s made the benchmark of her work. Her steadily dwindling bank account, though, is a daily reminder that she must sell her next book, and fast. Serendipitously, she discovers that her new next-door neighbor is Augustus Everett, the darling of the literary fiction set and her former college rival/crush. Gus also happens to be struggling with his next book (and some serious trauma that unfolds throughout the novel). Though the two get off to a rocky start, they soon make a bet: Gus will try to write a romance novel, and January will attempt “bleak literary fiction.” They spend the summer teaching each other the art of their own genres—January takes Gus on a romantic outing to the local carnival; Gus takes January to the burned-down remains of a former cult—and they both process their own grief, loss, and trauma through this experiment. There are more than enough steamy scenes to sustain the slow-burn romance, and smart commentary on the placement and purpose of “women’s fiction” joins with crucial conversations about mental health to add multiple intriguing layers to the plot.

A heartfelt look at taking second chances, in life and in love.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0673-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Jove/Penguin

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Love is a battlefield in this engaging wartime tale.

HIGHLAND WARRIOR

From the Sons of Sinclair series , Vol. 2

A warrior gives up everything for love in McCollum’s latest historical romance.

This second installment of the Sons of Sinclair series picks up with the story of Joshua Sinclair, the brutal Horseman of War who was last seen heading for foreign lands to polish up his mercenary skills. After a bloody battle at South Ronaldsay, Joshua travels to Orkney Isle to train Lord Robert Stuart’s soldiers in defensive maneuvers, though Joshua is far less interested in making war than he used to be. He’s ready to head back to his home when he’s waylaid by fierce fighter Kára. She’s desperate to help her people defend themselves from Lord Robert and his men, who, Joshua learns, hunted, raped, killed, and imprisoned many of them in the past. Joshua quickly falls for Kára, but he’s hesitant to join in her fight, as he’s seen the terrible cost of combat and knows that the Orkney inhabitants don’t stand a chance against the men he helped to train. But Kára’s persistence and her people’s desperate plight convinces him to help; he lobbies for a way to avoid to all-out war, but a murder and a kidnapping alter his plans. McCollum’s lengthy novel wastes no time jumping into a romance. Joshua and Kára kick their relationship off with a steamy sex scene early on, and the story’s pace never slows down. Joshua is a very attractive Scottish warrior, complete with bulging muscles and a soft side (he’s great with kids), but he’s also rather complicated. It’s a nice twist to see the Horseman of War seek out alternatives to violence, and it’s always lovely to see a swordswoman who’s fully capable of extracting herself from danger. A clever trick and other unexpected events precede the ending, which ties things up nicely.

Love is a battlefield in this engaging wartime tale.

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68281-570-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Entangled: Amara

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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