Election Day is almost here, and none of us needs any extra stress in our lives. Fortunately, there’s one place where you’ll always find a happy ending, and that’s in the pages of a romance novel. I’ve been walking around with headphones on, listening to the audiobooks of Joanna Shupe’s Uptown Girls series—The Rogue of Fifth Avenue (Avon, 2019), The Prince of Broadway (Avon, 2019), and The Devil of Downtown (Avon, June 30)—and I recommend a full immersion in their Gilded Age New York setting anytime you want to escape our current predicament.
The books feature Mamie, Florence, and Justine Greene, daughters of a wealthy and well-connected family. Naturally, none of them wants to marry the boring, coddled society men their parents would like to see them with; they’d rather investigate a murder with their father’s lawyer (Mamie), open a casino for women under the tutelage of New York’s most successful casino owner (Florence), or help impoverished women find their deadbeat husbands with the assistance of a criminal kingpin (Justine). The street-toughened men are swept off their feet by these unusual women, and they’re always extremely careful to get the women’s consent for everything they do together, from the office to the bedroom. Who wouldn’t like to live in that world for a few hours? Our review of The Prince of Broadway could almost describe any of the books: “The plot gallops delightfully through the brothels, casinos, fancy restaurants, and elegant salons of New York….Clay and Florence grow closer, in part via sex scenes as blistering hot as they are inventive, in part via witty banter and genuine friendship….An absolute ace, guaranteed to thrill fans of great gambling-house romances by Sarah MacLean and Lisa Kleypas.”
Or perhaps you’d prefer something a bit more contemporary—you’ll find three different siblings, same guaranteed happy ending, in Talia Hibbert’s Brown Sisters series: Get a Life, Chloe Brown (Avon, 2019), Take a Hint, Dani Brown (Avon, June 2020), and set an alert for next year’s Act Your Age, Eve Brown.The books tackle important issues like depression, chronic pain, racism, and domestic violence, but the sisters are quirky and brainy, their suitors charming, and the dialogue funny, giving the books a perfect balance of darkness and light. Our review of Chloe Brown called it “a revelation. Hilarious, heartfelt, and hot” and concluded “Hibbert is a major talent.”
The fun thing about romance is that it encompasses all the other genres, too. If you’re a fantasy fan looking for a happy-ever-after, try Milla Vane’s A Heart of Blood and Ashes, (Berkley, Feb. 2020), the first book in her Gathering of Dragons series. This is a long one for a romance novel—560 pages—and it should carry you right through the election, even if there are recounts. Yvenne comes from a line of matriarchal rulers, but her father is trying to keep her from marrying and claiming her throne. Maddek is a warrior whose parents, the rulers of a kingdom allied with Yvenne’s, were killed by her father. Maddek doesn’t trust Yvenne, but it makes strategic sense to marry her and help her become queen. Our review says, “Imaginative worldbuilding and compelling political intrigue add depth and complexity to their passionate and wildly romantic love affair….A showstopper.”
Paranormal fans will enjoy Season of the Wolf, (Sourcebooks Casablanca, Aug. 2020) the latest in Maria Vale’s Legend of All Wolves series, about a pack of werewolves. As our review says, “Vale is a rare writer, getting to the heart of her characters—their fears, their motivations—without sacrificing any of the grander picture. She quickly catches up readers, new and returning, with what feels less like summary than like poetry; her writing has never been better.”
Laurie Muchnick is the fiction editor.