Two fascinating characters meet their match in A Beginner’s Guide to Rakes by Suzanne Enoch. After being widowed in Vienna, Diane Benchley returns to London and stuns society by opening an exclusive gentleman’s club. No one is more surprised than Oliver Warren, the Marquis of Haybury. Two years before, he and the young widow had a torrid affair, and he ran from her and his feelings. Now that she’s back, he vows to avoid her . . . but it proves impossible when the beauty finds a way to have him act as her advisor. Once again in close quarters, their passion ignites, though each is determined to battle against it. Diane wants her venture to succeed and refuses to rely on love or a man again—besides, Oliver never saw himself as a one-woman man, and he isn’t about to start now. But through witty repartee and stolen kisses, the two grow close. When Diane’s establishment is threatened by outside forces, she must trust Oliver to help vanquish the new foe. The lovers war with each other passionately—but the results are fiery and just plain fun.
IN LOVE WITH THE BOSS
The characters are appealing, the animals adorable and the romance absolutely enjoyable in Animal Attraction by Jill Shalvis. Over a year ago, a scary event propelled Jade Bennett to leave her high-powered job in Chicago to become a receptionist at a vet clinic in Sunshine, Idaho. Nearly 18 months have passed and she’s made friends in the small town—particularly with her boss, veterinarian Dell Connelly. With a month left before she’s set to go home, Jade and Dell begin to explore the chemistry they’ve been ignoring. Before, it had made sense to pretend it wasn’t there: Dell doesn’t do relationships, and any person’s touch made Jade cringe. But everything changes when Dell teaches Jade to trust herself again and she motivates this closed-off man to open up. There’s no flash-bang here, but instead the steady-yet-hot flame of a building relationship. Dell and Jade are trying to protect themselves on the way to love—but of course it’s unattainable until they drop their armor.
TOP PICK IN ROMANCE
Susanna Kearsley’s The Rose Garden is an enthralling and achingly romantic read. Recovering from a painful loss, Eva Ward travels to Cornwall and the centuries-old Trelowarth House where she once spent happy summers. One morning, she hears unfamiliar voices in the next room, and on a walk she encounters a mysterious man who seems to be from another time. At first she attributes these oddities to symptoms of grief, but when the “hallucinations” continue to occur and she actually converses with the stranger in her bedroom, Eva concludes she has traveled back 300 years. Though she can’t control her comings and goings between the past and present, she begins to fall in love with Daniel Butler, a dashing man with a dangerous secret. As Eva investigates local annals, she learns some of what Daniel faced, but she’s unsure whether she can or should interfere in historical events—or if she can or should find a way to stay with him forever. Told in first person and with understated sensuality, the story of Eva and Daniel’s devotion and dilemma will keep readers avidly engaged.