Our reviewer retrospective continues with Miranda Owen‘s favorite books of this year!
I love making lists. At the end of a year, friends and fellow readers will post about their top favorite five or ten books of the year. I’m not configured that way. Trying to pick only five or ten favorite books out of the hundred or so I’ve read over the course of a year is unfathomable to me. Instead, I’ve picked about five or so titles in four different categories. Many of these selections fit a few of different categories listed here. I mostly read and review romances, but cozy mysteries are my jam too.
Christmas-themed Romance Picks
THE MATCHMAKER’S MISTLETOE MISSION by Jaci Burton
A COWBOY UNDER THE MISTLETOE by Jessica Clare
ONE HOT HOLIDAY by Cynthia Eden
MEET ME UNDER THE MISTLETOE by Stacey Kennedy
ONE CHRISTMAS EVE by Shannon Stacey
There was a ridiculous amount of amazing Christmas-themed romances that came out this year, many of which came out at the end of October. The ones I’m discussing were my absolute favorites, but there were a bunch more that put a smile on my face. THE MATCHMAKER’S MISTLETOE MISSION by Jaci Burton and A COWBOY UNDER THE MISTLETOE by Jessica Clare are books by two of my favorite authors and feature a “kinda/sorta cowboy” hero. In A COWBOY UNDER THE MISTLETOE, Jason Clements is a former soldier suffering from PTSD and trying to find a job that he can keep. Sage Cooper is a kind woman who is used to helping everyone, and Jason wanders into her life needing her without knowing it. I love a “pretend romance that turns real” story, and A COWBOY UNDER THE MISTLETOE is oodles of fun with great characters.
In THE MATCHMAKER’S MISTLETOE MISSION, Jaci Burton uses the “stranded in a storm” trope in a terrific way. Alice Weatherford is visiting the Red Moss Vineyard to help plan her BFF’s wedding. While there, Alice is introduced to rancher, hottie, and all-around good guy Clay Henry. I’m a sucker for “nice guy” heroes and both stories have those. While Clay initially rebuffs Alice’s attempts to take advantage of her professional capacity as a matchmaker, he does his best to convince her that they’d be good together. What sold me on Clay is how Clay let Alice know how he felt without being pushy and trying to dictate to her. Both stories include a “getting to know you” period that make the romance seem so much more natural.
ONE HOT HOLIDAY by Cynthia Eden and MEET ME UNDER THE MISTLETOE by Stacey Kennedy both feature lawman heroes, but the tone and the stories are wildly different. In ONE HOT HOLIDAY, sheriff Spencer Lane is trying to save Haley Quick from whatever she’s running from. This story was amazeballs from start to finish. Spencer insists that he’s not the straight-arrow good guy Haley thinks he is, but he’s all that and more. Admittedly, I’m not usually a fan of romantic suspense, except when it’s Cynthia Eden. ONE HOT HOLIDAY has a plethora of hot guys in addition to the romance and thrills. There are a few bad guys and red herrings in this book, but Haley’s instincts are better than she thinks they are.
Stacey Kennedy is no stranger to writing the same kind of romance/suspense mix that’s in ONE HOT HOLIDAY but MEET ME UNDER THE MISTLETOE is just a big ball of small-town contemporary romance goodness. Penelope Carter and Darryl Wilson knew each other when they were teenagers and crushing on each other. Years later, Penelope appears in Darryl’s town a little uncertain about which direction she should take in life. One of the things I really love about MEET ME UNDER THE MISTLETOE is that Darryl never tries to suggest that loving him would be an answer to all Penelope’s problems. He encourages her to pursue the things that interest her, and he acts as a source of emotional support as she tries to figure things out on her own. Darryl is a mellow cop hero and his sexy scenes with Penelope are just as much fun as the ones in which they’re simply getting to know each other all over again.
I enjoy reading Shannon Stacey’s books and eagerly await the next one, but I was initially unsure if I would like ONE CHRISTMAS EVE. The story has the two main characters start out on the wrong foot and have a somewhat adversarial relationship. Thankfully, it’s not long before Zoe Randall and Preston Wheeler get to know each other better and put to rest any animosity they may have had. Zoe is not the flake Preston imagines her to be, and Preston is not the rigid jerk he appears to be. There are lots of reasons to appreciate this book: the quaint small-town atmosphere, the fab friendships, and the charming and ever-evolving romance. I love ONE CHRISTMAS EVE for all those reasons, but I really like Preston’s vulnerability and the emotional impact this couple’s relationship ends up having for me. A book can have the best plot, but for me it’s all about the characters.
WHO’S SORRY NOW? By Maggie Robinson
BONES BEHIND THE WHEEL by E.J. Copperman
OWL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS by Donna Andrews
DYING FOR DEVIL’S FOOD by Jenn McKinlay
COACHED TO DEATH by Victoria Laurie
My favorite type of mystery is a cozy – fun characters, murder and mayhem but told in an entertaining way. Just as I enjoy historical romances with paranormal elements, I also enjoy a cozy mystery with one or more paranormal elements. WHO’S SORRY NOW? by Maggie Robinson is a mystery set in 1920s England and the upper class female amateur sleuth is visited – for better or worse – by her late husband. Lady Adelaide Compton works with Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Devenand Hunter to unmask a killer. The suspects, witnesses, and victims are all part of high society. Adelaide can navigate that world so well because she’s a part of it. The characters in this story really wowed me and Adelaide is a likable main character. Like many of the mysteries listed here, you get a feel as though you’re a part of the investigation and discovery process.
I adore E.J. Copperman’s Haunted Guesthouse series and desperately hope that more books are in the future. In the past, I would steer away from cozies written by men about women. At the time, I just wasn’t sure that a male author could write an authentic female character from her perspective. I was wrong. Innkeeper Alison Kerby, the amateur sleuth in E.J. Copperman’s Haunted Guesthouse series is both likable and extremely down-to-earth. Alison has a stellar assortment of family and friends, but she is realistically flawed. Part of the arrangement that has her guesthouse spooks helping at the inn includes her helping ghost Paul Harrison do most of the legwork that he can’t in his investigations. While it may seem like a somewhat bizarre premise, the mysteries are engaging, and the stories are loads of fun. In BONES BEHIND THE WHEEL, a buried car and a buried murder prove to be very puzzling for detectives.
OWL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS by Donna Andrews is a captivating whodunit, but it’s also delightfully irreverent like a Preston Sturges film. A group of wily and generally weird ornithologists descend on Caerphilly Inn for Owl Fest 2019. The humor in OWL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS is just as superb as the sleuthing.
In DYING FOR DEVIL’S FOOD by Jenn McKinlay, the amateur sleuth Mel Cooper has her fifteen-year high school reunion and the queen mean girl gets murdered. I love reunion-themed stories and this one had all the expected elements but with a few twists. The familiar supporting characters in this series make it a must-read for fans of cozy mysteries. I was always a fan of Victoria Laurie’s seriously spooky mysteries that were full of ghouls and thrills. Her new Cat Cooper series seems to be more of a classic cozy.
In COACHED TO DEATH, Cat now opens a business acting as a life coach to people just as her life starts to unravel. I loved the main characters. Cat and her sidekick Gilley are a terrific crime solving duo and I like the opportunities to inject a hint of romance in Cat’s life.
Contemporary Romance Picks:
PIRACY by L.P. Maxa
ALL IT TAKES by Kristen Proby
DELIVERED WITH A KISS by Marie Harte
RAY by Jennifer Ashley
BETRAYING THE BILLIONAIRE by Victoria Davies
FLASHED by Zoey Castile
All the books in my contemporary romance selections are very different from each other but they’re individually awesome. I normally don’t read a lot of New Adult romances because, in general, they are too full of angst for me. PIRACY, by L.P. Maxa is still in that New Adult category but it’s also super sexy and full of laughs. Jett Matthews is an engaging character in PIRACY. At the opening of the story, Jett is telling the reader about his life – as an essentially modern-day rake going to college in Texas. My favorite type of hero is the classic nice guy. Usually when an author tries to have a hero come across as both slightly shady and charming, it doesn’t always work. The result is more like smarmy with a touch of “this character isn’t worth my time,” but there’s something about Jett. I think having a girl BFF has him a little bit self-aware and he also doesn’t take himself too seriously. His pursuit of the nerdy girl in his class is both amusing and adorable.
ALL IT TAKES by Kristen Proby has the kind of sweet hero I normally prefer to read about. Quinn and Sienna are both lawyers and forced to work together to solve a legal mystery. In ALL IT TAKES, the hero pursues the heroine and family is a huge theme. Sienna is a strong, yet flawed heroine and she needs time to sort out her family issues and her feelings about Quinn’s wealth. The romantic banter and evolving relationship between Sienna and Quinn makes ALL IT TAKES fun to read.
I’ve always said that Marie Harte writes fantastic stories with heroes who are hunks with plenty of heart. In DELIVERED WITH A KISS, Smith Ramsey proves he is not the hard case dude that everybody thinks he is. Smith meets Erin when she is at a crossroads in life and offers her a helping hand. I long for stories like this with a hero who has a rough exterior, but a heart of gold buried deep down. This couple have a snappy banter and provide emotional support when they need it. This book is also ridiculously hot.
RAY by Jennifer Ashley has a sweet and sexy cowboy hero who befriends a woman who’s new to town and trying to launch a business. Like Marie Harte, Jennifer Ashley writes some of my favorite heroes. In RAY, there’s a genuine friendship that develops between Ray and Drew, in addition to the physical attraction. Ray is a friend and support system when Drew needs one the most. I hate pushy heroes with a phony charm and Ray is the antithesis of that type of guy. The characters in this book are all multidimensional and it’s a phenomenal mix of great storytelling, substance, and sexiness. Like Stephanie Laurens, Jennifer Ashley also writes some of my favorite heroines – very real, intelligent, and pragmatic.
Victoria Davies first grabbed my attention after I read her novella SEDUCING THE DEMON HUNTRESS. In BETRAYING THE BILLIONAIRE, Victoria Davies captures that exquisite sexual tension that not every author can express so well. This story has the “pretend romance turned real” trope as well as some sister swapping that the hero is unaware of. Holly Abbott is far from being a manipulative seductress bent on bad intentions, but her sisterly devotion has her doing things she wouldn’t normally do. Holly plays the part of romancing billionaire Julian Worth while pretending to be her sister. Things, predictably, get out of hand when both Holley and Julian start to care for each other deeply. I love it!
FLASHED by Zoey Castile is like a modern-day fairytale and fabulous. Patrick Halloran had a wild background of fame and fast living until an accident left him scarred. Now Patrick’s a recluse and Lena is a college student working as his housekeeper. Lena is no pushover and she lights a fire under Patrick that gets him interacting more with those around him. This book is full of passionate encounters, but the initial ones are very inventive because of Patrick’s hang-ups.
Historical Romance Picks
A CONQUEST IMPOSSIBLE TO RESIST by Stephanie Laurens
IT’S GETTING SCOT IN HERE by Suzanne Enoch
A MACKENZIE CLAN CHRISTMAS by Jennifer Ashley
SOMEONE TO REMEMBER by Mary Balogh
THE RELUCTANT DUCHESS by Jane Goodger
I love historical romance, but I’ve gotten pickier over the years. I always enjoy character-driven stories and all the ones I’ve picked as my favorites for the year certainly qualify. Not only are these books my favorite historical romances of the year, but I’ve been a fan of most of these authors for years. There are many reasons I love Stephanie Laurens’ Cynster books, but these books often include the kind of confident and intelligent women that I crave in a story, and A CONQUEST IMPOSSIBLE TO RESIST is no different. Deaglan Fitzgerald and Prudence Cynster both appreciate family and are horse enthusiasts. Prudence’s intelligence and determination are things that make her irresistible to Deaglan and he respects her all the more for those qualities. This is another sublime mix of romance and mystery by Stephanie Laurens, and a romance between two people who are perfectly matched.
IT’S GETTING SCOT IN HERE by Suzanne Enoch and A MACKENZIE CLAN CHRISTMAS by Jennifer Ashley are both historical romances with Scottish heroes and both by authors whose books I adore, but both are very different stories about family. The Ashley book contains two Christmas-themed stories and the newest of which is “A Mackenzie Yuletide.” The Mackenzies are a quirky bunch who love hard and will do anything for the people they care about. This story is full of such rich imagery that, for me, it played out like a film I was watching. The Mackenzie clan all pull together to solve a mystery, even as they approach the problem from different angles.
In IT’S GETTING SCOT IN HERE, the MacTaggert brothers have a bit of a chip on their shoulders because of the way their parents’ tumultuous relationship has left their financial futures in a precarious position. Niall never expected to find love in England, and especially not with a woman his brother was decreed to marry, but he is flummoxed by love. Niall is a wonderful hero – strong, sweet, sexy, and treats the heroine with consideration, respect, and caring. Mary Balogh is perhaps my favorite author of historical romance. In a Mary Balogh story, the characters are spectacularly multifaceted, the storytelling is to die for, and the characters’ behavior never seems contrived or leave you feeling as though something just doesn’t ring true.
In SOMEONE TO REMEMBER, Mary Balogh tells a engrossing “second chance at love” story between two middle-aged characters that is poignant and full of hope and romantic promise. I live for and revel in all the traditional trappings of a dark and delectable gothic romance.
THE RELUCTANT DUCHESS by Jane Goodger is exactly that type of book. It has it all: marriage by proxy, a forbidding estate, a hero hidden in the shadows, a dastardly villain you ache to see get what’s coming to him, and a plucky heroine who will set things right. One thing I liked about THE RELUCTANT DUCHESS is the way Jane Goodger has the hero and heroine interact and build their relationship bit by bit. Although the hero has financial power and social status, he is in many ways just as vulnerable as the heroine. At some point, it becomes an “us against the world” story. Even with all the advantages Oliver Sterling has because he’s a duke, he has been manipulated for much of his life, and he has a level of uncertainty about his life that helps him connect with Rebecca.
BOOKS MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE:
Boots And Bouquets
New York Times bestselling author Jaci Burton celebrates the gift of love and the holiday season with a snowy Christmas wedding at the Bellini family vineyard.
Stranded at the Red Moss Vineyard a week before her best friend’s wedding, LA native and professional matchmaker Alice Weatherford is not pleased with her first trip to Oklahoma, or the epic snowstorm forcing her to stay. So much for Christmas cheer. What she needs is a project, something to distract her. . . and, oh, has she found one in neighboring rancher Clay Henry. Gorgeous, charming, and unlike any other man she’s ever met, finding the right woman for Clay should be easy. . .
Having grown up with the Bellini sisters, it’s no hardship for Clay to ride out the storm at their cozy family vineyard, especially since that means spending time with their savvy and smart houseguest. But despite Alice’s best efforts, he’s not the least bit interested in her matchmaking. . .
Alice is the only woman Clay wants. Now he just has to convince the matchmaker herself to give love a chance.
Romance Holiday [InterMix, On Sale: October 15, 2019, e-Book, ISBN: 9780593098097 / eISBN: 9780593098097]
Wyoming Cowboy #3
‘Tis the season for starting over for one military man turned cowboy in this new novel by the New York Times bestselling author of The Cowboy and His Baby.
Former Navy master-at-arms Jason Clements is down on his luck and calling in one last favor. His cousin has secured him a job opportunity as a cowboy working at Price Ranch in Wyoming. Too bad Jason has never even saddled a horse. If he can keep this job without his PTSD getting in the way, it’ll be a Christmas miracle.
Local busybody Sage Cooper loves Painted Barrel something fierce, but it’s time for her to move on. Since her father passed away, the family ranch feels too big for just her, and there’s no chance of finding a husband in this small town. To the rest of the world, she’s just another local fixture, known for her closet full of ugly Christmas sweaters and being perpetually single.
It isn’t until Jason shows up in desperate need of a cowboy crash course that Sage discovers a tall, dark, and handsome reason to stick around. And with the holidays coming up, Sage is in need of a date for a special event–maybe they’ll turn out to be each other’s best Christmas present.
She’s running for her life. He’s the safe haven she never expected to find. The holiday season is about to get HOT.
Hiding out for the holiday season in the heart of the South? Not something that Haley Quick ever expected to have on her to-do list but then. . . she never expected her ex to want her dead, either. Turns out, life is full of surprises. Time to deal. Haley has ditched New York for a crazy little dot on the map known as Point Hope, Alabama. It’s a town gone extra crazy for the holidays, and Haley is sticking out like a sore thumb with her very much Grinch-self.
But enter sexy sheriff Spencer Lane. . . Tall, muscled, and made with an extra dose of sex appeal, he is exactly the kind of man that Haley should be avoiding. He’s charming, he looks way too good in a Santa hat, and, oh, yes, he’s her new landlord. The hits just keep coming. She can’t afford to let Spencer learn all of her secrets, a tough job since she is living with the man. No sex, though. It’s purely a business relationship. Except. . . the holidays in the South sure do get HOT. Or maybe that’s just sexy Spencer. Usually, Haley falls for the bad guy. It’s the whole reason she’s running for her life. She can’t help but wonder. . . What would it be like to fall for a man like Spencer?
He just got his Christmas wish.
Sheriff Spencer Lane can’t believe his luck. The most beautiful, fascinating woman he’s ever seen has just dropped into his life like a gift from, well, the big guy in red. Only the problem is that Haley seems to think Spencer is some by-the-book, nice guy. Probably because of the badge. And if she wants him to be the hero, that’s a role that he’s happy to play for her. But the truth is, Spencer has plenty of darkness inside, too. An ex Navy SEAL, he knows how to get sh–um, stuff done. He also knows how to be very, very naughty.
When danger threatens his Haley, all bets are off. No one is going to hurt her. No one is going to threaten her. Not in his town. Not on his watch. The nice guy will show Haley just how bad he can be.
Fake snow, a parade of wild elves, and a stalker ex don’t make for the merriest of times, but in Point Hope, anything can happen–and it usually does. Ready for a steamy story that will get you in the ho-ho-ho spirit? Settle back, curl up with Spencer, and have yourself a jolly old time.
A River Rock Christmas Romance
Penelope Carter has won the “wild child” award for years. Determined to bring joy instead of irritation over the holidays, she’s arrived at River Rock to stay at her cousins brewery during the holidays, ready to earn her way off the naughty list. But when a few too many Christmas cocktails and a devilishly sexy cop from her past derail her plans, the nice list looks unreachable.
The last time Darryl Wilson saw Penelope, he was seventeen years old and had given her a hot first kiss. Ten years later, Penelope is a sweet distraction after his divorce, but she’s also the sexiest trouble he’s ever known. And when she becomes his trouble during the Christmas festivities that are meant to lead to his long-awaited promotion, he realizes that Christmas is about to get complicated.
But holiday wishes are sweeping through the snowy small town in Colorado, and if Darryl and Penelope survive the season, they’ll see a little bit naughty is more than a little bit nice. And this Christmas might be the best one of all.
Cedar Street #2
New York Times bestselling author Shannon Stacey returns with a warm and cozy opposites-attract Christmas story.
Zoe Randall is busy living her life as she damn well pleases. She’s back in her favorite town, her divorce in her rearview mirror, and living out her childhood dream of running a bookstore with her cousin. She has no interest in the uptight nerd who opened his boring-ass business next to her shop. . . until he complains about one of her sexy window displays.
Then it’s game on.
Preston Wheeler knows he takes life a little too seriously. But when the saucy bookseller next door starts pushing his buttons, he can feel that changing. Beautiful, vivacious Zoe challenges him in all the best ways, and soon he’s pushing her buttons right back: teasing and flirting all the way through the holiday season.
As Preston loosens up and Zoe is treated to the man behind the suit (particularly his forearms), she realizes she’s more interested than she cares to admit. And Preston comes to see the beauty–the absolute delight–in adding Zoe’s bright splashes of color to his once very black-and-white existence.
London, England 1925
A Russian prince. A wealthy heir. An impoverished earl’s daughter. Which one will make an untimely exit from the London social scene?
Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Devenand Hunter finds himself in the middle of a series of upper-class deaths in London. Bright Young People are being extinguished in their favorite night spots, from a sleazy private jazz club to the Savoy ballroom. Dev knows just the person to help him navigate the treacherous society waters: Lady Adelaide Compton, a marquess’ daughter and widow of a Great War hero. Unfortunately, he has put her in jeopardy once before, nearly leading him to turn in his warrant card.
But when her sister Cee is nearly one of the victims, Addie turns to Mr. Hunter, offering her help. . . and it soon becomes clear that the two of them working together again could lead to much more than merely solving crime.
Mystery Historical [Poisoned Pen Press, On Sale: June 1, 2019, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9781464211355 / eISBN: 9781464211386]
Barry Award-winning author E.J. Copperman is back with
the tenth hilarious installment in his national bestselling
Haunted Guesthouse mysteries.
Haunted Guesthouse proprietress Alison Kerby and her ghostly guest detective, Paul, “auto” know better than to dig into the case of a long-buried sedan and its now-skeletal driver.
Innkeeper Alison Kerby is determined to keep her mind, body, and soul focused on bringing high-spirited hospitality to her lodgers at the Haunted Guesthouse. She simply has no time for any more murder investigations, no matter what Paul Harrison, her resident ghost detective, says.
But this time, the mystery comes looking for Alison. Workers unearth a 1977 Lincoln Continental buried in the sand behind Alison’s guesthouse–and they discover a skeleton still belted in behind the steering wheel.
Paul, of course, is on the cold case–to the extent that a ghostly gumshoe can be–but Alison is still determined not to do the incorporeal investigator’s legwork. Not this time. But her new husband Josh is intrigued, and he offers to help Paul poke into the case of the cold Continental. Uh-oh. . . has Josh caught the investigation bug? It’s a harsh wake-up call for a harried businesswoman who’d thought she’d told the detective life to hit the road.
What can go wrong? How about everything? As Alison dodges stray bullets, discovers a gun in the guesthouse, and reluctantly probes a decades-old murder that turns out to be shockingly relevant even today, her specter inspector tries to keep her spirits up. But as she searches for the key to unlock the case, is Alison headed for her final check-out? Make a reservation to find out in Bones Behind the Wheel, the tenth fun-filled Haunted Guesthouse mystery from national bestselling author E.J. Copperman.
New York Times bestselling author Donna Andrews returns with another Meg Langslow mystery written “firmly in the grand tradition of Agatha Christie’s Christmas books” (Toronto Globe and Mail).
The 26th book and the sixth Christmas mystery in the Meg Lansglow series, Owl Be Home for Christmas is yet another wonderfully merry and funny book from New York Times bestselling author Donna Andrews.
It’s a few days before Christmas, and Meg’s grandfather is hosting a scientific conference on owls at the Caerphilly Inn. Most of the family are there, helping out in one capacity or another, including Meg’s grandmother, Cordelia–invited by Grandfather in rare gesture of peace-making, to share her expertise on rehabilitating large birds, including owls. An unexpectedly severe snow storm traps the conference-goers in the hotel, and one of the visiting ornithologists is murdered. Even if Caerphilly is able to clear the roads in time, Chief Burke doesn’t want the various suspects to scatter to half a dozen continents before he identifies the killer, so there’s a very real possibility that none of them will make it home for Christmas . . . at least not unless Meg comes to the rescue.
Full of intrigue and snow, this Christmas mystery will take readers home to Caerphilly for Christmas.
Mystery Cozy [Minotaur Books, On Sale: October 15, 2019, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9781250305312 / eISBN: 9781250305336]
As the New York Times bestselling series
continues, it’s going to take every recipe the Fairy Tale
Cupcake crew has to whip up a quick defense for Mel Cooper when her high school reunion goes from a cake walk to a car wreck. . .
Melanie Cooper has zero interest in catering her fifteen-year high school reunion, but Angie insists it’s only right that they bask in the success of Fairy Tale Cupcakes–and Mel’s engagement to the delicious Joe DeLaura is the cherry on top!
Everything is going better than expected until Cassidy Havers, resident mean girl and Mel’s high school nemesis, picks a fight. No longer willing to put up with Cassidy’s bullying, Mel is ready to tell the former homecoming queen to shut her piehole and call it a night. But as Mel and Joe prepare to depart, Cassidy is found dead in the girl’s bathroom, next to a note written in lipstick that points right to Mel–making her the prime suspect.
Now, Mel must follow the clues to find the real killer and keep her reputation from being frosted for a crime she didn’t commit.
Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: May 7, 2019, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780451492630 / eISBN: 9780451492647]
When Catherine Cooper settles in the Hamptons on the heels of a nasty split from her long-time husband, the luxurious coastal community seems like the perfect place to get back on track in style. But as Cat soon discovers, starting fresh on the East End can be deadly . . .
Cat Cooper never imagined selling off her in-demand marketing firm would mean going from the pinnacle of success to a walking hot mess. Gouged from an unexpected divorce, Cat suddenly finds herself struggling through a new career as a business-savvy life coach for the hopelessly adrift in East Hampton and contending with Heather Holland–a spiteful neighbor who will do anything to bully her out of town. But her second act may very well continue behind bars when Heather’s dead body turns up next to a shattered punchbowl . . . and Cat’s pinned as the murderer.
But given Heather’s mean girl reputation, any one of the guests at her invite-only luncheon could have committed the crime before planting Cat’s punchbowl next to the body. Determined not to trade designer duds for an unflattering prison jumpsuit, Cat sides with her best friend Gilley to scour chic boutiques and oceanfront mansions in search of the criminal who framed her. With a stoic detective looking to get her in cuffs, it’s up to Cat to catch the real killer and land on her feet once again . . .
Mystery Cozy [Kensington, On Sale: October 29, 2019, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9781496720337 / eISBN: 9781496720337]
STEALING. . .
Saying Jett Matthews has it easy is an understatement. He loves being the youngest son of a rockstar. A day doesn’t go by that Jett isn’t working his Devil’s Spawn status to the max. But Jett is more than he appears to be. He’s co-owner of a huge company that grows and sells marijuana. It’s all legit. . . well, it is now, but there’s a hitch: he and his Spawn partner, Marley Connor, have been building the business right under their parents’ noses, and they are none the wiser. When Jett and Marley have to come out from behind the shadows, it’s Devin King who helps make the impossible happen, and that seals the deal on Jett’s heart forever.
THE RICHEST TREASURE
Devin King is serious about her college education. She’s at UT Austin on an academic scholarship, and she means to turn this opportunity into a serious career. When sexy, trash-talking, full of swagger, too gorgeous for his own good, Jett Matthews sits down next to her in Civics, her world turns on its side, and she can’t say she minds all that much. Sure, she made him work for it, but everything worth having requires a little effort, especially for Jett. But the prize is so much sweeter after a little sweat equity, and Devin means to have it all, and for it to last a lifetime.
In Kristen Proby’s second novel in her Romancing Manhattan series, a playboy vows never to commit–until he meets the one woman he’s tempted to break his promise for.
Quinn Cavanaugh doesn’t do anything halfway. He drives fast, works hard, and plays even harder. And the word “commitment” doesn’t exist in his dictionary. He has no plans of settling down with one woman for he needs to be free to move on to the next big thing–whatever or whoever that may be. Each party knows the score going into it, and it’s all been working out fine. That is, until a sexy new colleague enters the scene.
Sienna Hendricks doesn’t give much thought to Quinn and the revolving door leading to his bedroom. She’s way too picky about who she shares her time or her body with and screwing around with a colleague isn’t part of her plan either. Quinn doesn’t intimidate her. And unlike most other members of her sex, she doesn’t melt into a puddle at his feet whenever he’s near. Most importantly, she has no issues telling him no.
But for a man who has the world at his feet, Quinn isn’t accustomed to being rejected. And he’s not about to let that change–no matter how persistent Sienna is. To his surprise, Sienna is everything he thought he’d never find. Pursuing her, and convincing her he’s changed, is going to be the biggest challenge of his life. One he’s completely up for. . .
Romance Contemporary [Avon, On Sale: July 30, 2019, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780062892676 / eISBN: 9780062892690]
Veteran Movers #4
Will one wrong move
Bring Erin love
With the right guy?
Smith Ramsey knows all about hard knocks. So, when his newest client gets dumped by her boyfriend, he gets her an apartment in his complex. He tries to steer clear of her, having enough troubles of his own. He’s got estranged brothers to deal with on top of learning his mother wasn’t his mother. But he can’t forget pretty Erin Briggs. And soon he’s addicted to more than her cookies. . .
Erin thought she’d been in love, but now independent and looking at life through clear eyes, she realizes what she felt for her ex in no way compares to what she’s feeling for the tough ex-Marine who picked her up when she was down.
Actions speak louder than words. Smith’s kindness and gentle core lay buried under old hurts. But can he forgive and forget the past to make a future with Erin? And is she making a mistake by trusting in love for the wrong man all over again?
Drew Paresky runs smack into a large cowboy at the hardware store where she’s buying supplies in her desperate attempt to restore the most derelict B&B in the world. To her surprise, the cowboy, Ray Malory, apologizes to her and helps her haul the stuff home.
Drew isn’t from Riverbend–at least, she’s never been there, even if her grandfather owned the B&B he left her in his will. If she doesn’t fix up the place and turn it around within the year, she’ll lose not only the land but the money her grandfather left her.
Ray’s help is a godsend, but Drew’s not sure whether her growing attraction to him is wise. She’ll fix up the B&B, inherit her money, and return to Chicago, where her life is. Drew can’t afford to set down in roots in Riverbend, Texas, and she certainly can’t afford to lose her heart. Can she?
The Abbott Sisters #1
Julian Worth isn’t a man with time to spare. Ruling his billion-dollar empire with an iron fist, work is the true love of his life. Which is why when it comes to marriage, a strategic alliance matters more than love. Julian is more than ready to sign on for a little superficial dating and a marriage of convenience if it allows him to take his company to the next level. What he wasn’t ready for was the woman who shows up as his prospective bride.
Holly Abbott has spent her whole life coming in second. Being born four minutes behind her twin sister has defined her life. But when her headstrong sister refuses to go along with their father’s plan to marry her off into a cold business arrangement, Holly has to step up. Knowing the infamous Julian Worth will only entertain marrying the Abbott heir, Holly sets her identity aside to transform into her sister. It’s an easy enough plan. A few dates with a man who isn’t hers won’t hurt anyone.
Except Julian is nothing like the ruthless tycoon she expected. Soon she’s left to wonder, what will happen when her sister comes back and worse, how will she ever be able to give up a man who doesn’t even know her real name?
When a man makes his living by his looks, he can forget that love–and lust–are more than skin deep. But the right woman can remind him. . .
A former soccer player, stripper, and model, legendary party boy Patrick Halloran finally gets his big break starring in the summer blockbuster. But when an accident leaves him changed forever, he hides away in his secluded Montana ranch. Only his new housekeeper is allowed inside–with one rule: she’s not allowed to see him. But Pat sees her, and she’s the most stunning woman he’s ever laid eyes on. Even her voice is beautiful. Still, Pat can’t allow himself to get close to anyone. Not without a fight at least. . .
Magdalena “Lena” Martel is a long way from Queens, New York. After a rough patch, the aspiring artist is working her way through college–even if it means keeping house for a man whose gruff voice she can only hear through a closed door. Still, Lena senses Pat’s got a good heart, maybe even a lovable one. She’s intrigued–until his anger sends her running into the freezing woods. Now Pat will have to find her and when he does he may have found the one woman who can thaw his heart–not to mention the rest of him. But can their new bond survive the paparazzi–and their personal demons?
#1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens returns to the Cynsters’ next generation to bring you a thrilling tale of love, intrigue, and fabulous horses.
A notorious rakehell with a stable of fabulous Thoroughbreds and a lady on a quest to locate such horses must negotiate personal minefields to forge a greatly desired alliance–one someone is prepared to murder to prevent.
Prudence Cynster has turned her back on husband hunting in favor of horse hunting. As the head of the breeding program underpinning the success of the Cynster racing stables, she’s on a quest to acquire the necessary horses to refresh the stable’s breeding stock.
On his estranged father’s death, Deaglan Fitzgerald, now Earl of Glengarah, left London and the hedonistic life of a wealthy, wellborn rake and returned to Glengarah Castle determined to rectify the harm caused by his father’s neglect. Driven by guilt that he hadn’t been there to protect his people during the Great Famine, Deaglan holds against the lure of his father’s extensive collection of horses and, leaving the stable to the care of his brother, Felix, devotes himself to returning the estate to prosperity.
Deaglan had fallen out with his father and been exiled from Glengarah over his drive to have the horses pay their way. Knowing Deaglan’s wishes and that restoration of the estate is almost complete, Felix writes to the premier Thoroughbred breeding program in the British Isles to test their interest in the Glengarah horses.
On receiving a letter describing exactly the type of horses she’s seeking, Pru overrides her family’s reluctance and sets out for Ireland’s west coast to visit the now-reclusive wicked Earl of Glengarah. Yet her only interest is in his horses, which she cannot wait to see.
When Felix tells Deaglan that a P. H. Cynster is about to arrive to assess the horses with a view to a breeding arrangement, Deaglan can only be grateful. But then P. H. Cynster turns out to be a lady, one utterly unlike any other he’s ever met.
Yet they are who they are, and both understand their world. They battle their instincts and attempt to keep their interactions businesslike, but the sparks are incandescent and inevitably ignite a sexual blaze that consumes them both–and opens their eyes.
But before they can find their way to their now-desired goal, first one accident, then another distracts them. Someone, it seems, doesn’t want them to strike a deal. Who? Why?
They need to find out before whoever it is resorts to the ultimate sanction.
Romance Historical [Savdek Management, On Sale: March 14, 2019, e-Book, ISBN: 2940161495537 / eISBN: 9781925559163]
The first in a wickedly seductive new Scottish historical romance series from New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Enoch!
“It’s time to fall in love with Suzanne Enoch.” — Lisa Kleypas
London socialite Amelia-Rose Baxter is nobody’s fool. Her parents may want her to catch a title, but she will never change who she is for the promise of marriage. Her husband will be a man who can appreciate her sharp mind as well as her body. A sophisticated man who loves life in London. A man who considers her his equal–and won’t try to tame her wild heart. . .
IN THE HIGHLANDS
Rough, rugged Highlander Niall MacTaggert and his brothers know the rules: the eldest must marry or lose the ancestral estate, period. But Niall’s eldest brother just isn’t interested in the lady his mother selected. Is it because Amelia-Rose is just too. . . Free-spirited? Yes. Brazen? Aye. Surely Niall can find a way to soften up the whip-smart lass and make her the perfect match for his brother for the sake of the family.
JUST GOT A WHOLE LOT HOTTER.
Instead it’s Niall who tempts Amelia-Rose, despite her reservations about barbarian Highlanders. Niall finds the lass nigh irresistible as well, but he won’t make the mistake his father did in marrying an Englishwoman who doesn’t like the Highlands. Does he have what it takes to win her heart? There is only one way to find out. . .
Romance Historical [St. Martin’s Paperbacks, On Sale: February 26, 2019, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781250296375 / eISBN: 9781250296382]
Celebrate the holidays with New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Ashley’s Mackenzie clan in two heartwarming novellas.
Includes a never before published Mackenzie Christmas novella!
When the Mackenzie family gathers in Scotland to celebrate the holidays the love and joy of the Christmas spirit captures everyone’s hearts.
And a reader favorite. . . A Mackenzie Clan Gathering
The Mackenzie clan has gathered for Hart’s birthday at the sprawling family estate in Scotland. But before the festivities can start, the house is robbed, and thieves make off with an untold fortune in rare art.
Ian Mackenzie and his brothers must do what they can to retrieve the family treasure, but Ian is distracted by a family friend who claims he might have the power to “cure” Ian of his madness forever. All the Mackenzies must draw together as courage, love, and a tantalizing mystery serve to strengthen their bond, and redefine the meaning of family.
It’s never too late to fall in love in this enchanting new novella in the Westcott series from New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh.
Matilda Westcott has spent her life tending to the needs of her mother, the Dowager Countess of Riverdale, never questioning the life of solitude she has spun for herself. To Matilda, who considers herself the aging spinster daughter, marriage is laughable–love is a game for the young, after all. But her modest, quiet life of order unravels when a dashing gentleman from her past reappears, threatening to charm his way into her heart yet again.
Charles Sawyer, Viscount Dirkson, does not expect to see Matilda Westcott thirty-six years after their failed romance. Moreover, he does not expect decades-old feelings to emerge at the very sight of her. When encountering Matilda at a dinner hosted by the Earl of Riverdale, he finds himself as fascinated by her as he was the first day they met, and wonders if, after all these years, they have a chance at happiness together. Charles is determined to crack the hard exterior Matilda has built for over three decades or risk losing her once again. . .
Romance Historical [Berkley, On Sale: November 5, 2019, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780593099735 / eISBN: 9780593099032]
The charming seaside town of St. Ives is hard to leave—but to save her family from ruin, one young woman must face a frightening unknown . . .
Orphaned young, Oliver Sterling, eleventh duke of Kendal, lives in seclusion in his massive home, Horncliffe Manor. Convinced since childhood that he is monstrous, his only company is his guardian, Mr. Winters–a man who perpetuates Oliver’s self-loathing. Still, Oliver is only human. One day, he sees a beautiful young woman in a painting titled “St. Ives Girl.” Captivated, he asks Mr. Winters to find her, marry her by proxy, and bring her back as his bride . . .
Rebecca Kane is shocked that her squire father has agreed to marry her off to a duke in exchange for payment of his gambling debts. But with no option, she submits. Rebecca fears this husband she has never seen in the light of day–yet in the marriage bed, her husband is kind and gentle. And though they remain in darkness, she detects nothing odd about him. She wonders what he is hiding and soon finds there are more mysteries to uncover–about the unsettling noises coming from deep within the manor, about Mr. Winters, and about love–of oneself and one’s beloved . . .