From a gambling den in London to the rodeo circuits in Texas, and from a hockey arena in North Carolina to the rough streets of Cincinnati, here are five February romances that stand out from the rest.
Tangled in Texas by Kari Lynn Dell – "Tangled" is right. Rodeo rider Delon Sanchez is trying to recover from a potentially career-stopping injury when he discovers that his new physical therapist is none other than Tori Patterson, the rich girl who left him cold and broke his heart six years ago. But this new Tori is not the Tori he remembers, and this new Delon is not the Delon she remembers either. As they edge toward friendship, trust, and finally something more, they have to sort through so much baggage related to each other and their families that there were points when I genuinely wondered if they were going to make it–and felt bereft at the thought that they might not. Complex and genuine, this one grabbed me until I finished the final page.
Between the Devil and the Duke by Kelly Bowen – I think Bowen’s Chagarre & Associates books get better and better with each new release. Refreshingly, the heroines usually are not fragile flowers seeking to escape Society’s hothouse but strong women who’ve already been through tough times and understand they need to make their own luck. When gambling den owner Alex crosses paths with mathematically minded Angelique at his
vingt-et-un tables, he recognizes an opportunity to turn a profit…as well as a woman whose smarts and grit are alluring. After Angelique’s brother is arrested for murder, Angelique turns to Chagarre & Associates for help in proving his innocence and gets Alex instead. Exciting action, dueling wits, and an explosive attraction make this a show-stopping historical.
Roman by Sawyer Bennett – While Roman Sýkora is a mighty fine-looking defenseman for the Cold Fury hockey team, Lexi Robertson is no wannabe puck bunny. She’s at the Cold Fury offices only to finally meet her long-lost biological father, team owner Brian Brannon. Lexi’s genuineness and warmth captures Roman’s interest even as his humor and spark make her disregard the warnings about him from her new half-sister. Roman, Lexi, and Brian (yes, the dad!) all get alternating point-of-view chapters, signaling that this isn’t a book simply about forging unbreakable romantic bonds but about finding and creating family.
Every Dark Corner by Karen Rose – She’s a sharp-shooting cop; he just came back to "real life" after three years undercover with human traffickers. But while Griffin and Kate initially believes the worst was behind him after he wakes up from a coma, they soon realize that a child porn ring has been operating practically under their noses. The slow-building romance between Griffin and Kate satisfies, but most of the thrills are in tracking down the bad guys and bringing them to much-needed justice. My only quibble is that a bit too much time is spent with characters from previous books in the series, sometimes dropping the pacing to a crawl, but it’s a minor complaint that others won’t care about.
Too Wild to Tame by Tessa Bailey – Previously available only as an ebook, this book in the Romancing the Clarksons series is now available in print as well. With his siblings in tow, Aaron Clarkson tracks down a senator running for president to make a last-ditch effort to join his campaign team and resurrect Aaron’s downwardly spiraling career. Little does Aaron know when he meets a strangely fey young woman outside a fund-raiser that his fastest way into the campaign is through Grace, the senator’s daughter. As sparks fly and Aaron and Grace reveal their scarred hearts to each other, their relationship also becomes the fastest way he’ll get kicked out of the senator’s inner circle. There’s a mesmerizing intensity in the buildup between Aaron, who’s seeking redemption without realizing it, and Grace, who thinks she can heal her deeply damaged soul with the least likely person. Raw and gut-wrenching, this romance is darker than the cover suggests, so prepare yourself to go through an emotional wringer.
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