A battle for love and survival creates an exciting paranormal tale in Darkness Bred, the second book in the Chimney Rock series by Stella Cameron. Sean Black fell for delicate Elin when they were in other shapes—he a hound, she a small cat. They want to be together forever, as long as they can be sure their bonding won’t adversely affect Sean’s werehound brothers or bring the wrath of Elin’s adoptive mother, the fae Queen, upon their heads. But there are other forces to consider, they realize, when Elin is nearly killed by a vampire. Is this the Queen’s retribution? Or perhaps the repercussion of a secret that Sean has tried to keep from his love? An expedition to a sinister island and a deadly encounter with a mysterious entity only create more questions, sending Elin on a quest to discover her true origins. Danger continues to stalk the couple as they determine whom to trust. Still, their feelings for each other burn strong and make the need for triumph over their enemies only more imperative. A shivery read.

A practical Scottish duke decides it’s time to marry in Once Upon a Tower. In 1824, Gowan Stoughton, the very wealthy Duke of Kinross, travels to London in search of a wife. The instant he sees the beautiful and beautifully quiet Lady Edith Gilchrist, he’s enamored, and the next morning he visits her father to arrange a marriage. Though she was ill on the night they met and noticed little about the duke, Edith, an obedient daughter, agrees to the match. All is not happily-ever-after, however. As they become acquainted, Gowan learns that Edie is not as unassuming as he’d thought—for one, she’s an accomplished cellist who demands her practice time no matter what. The marriage bed isn’t what either of them had dreamed of, either, and Gowan’s all-work ways and his perfectionist attitude cause further complications. But they find much to admire in each other, and it’s a treat to watch the pair learn to love, listen and compromise. Eloisa James delights again with a story that’s both sophisticated and sweet, featuring layered characters who walk right off the page and into the reader’s heart.

Susan Mallery’s small town of Fool’s Gold always offers romance and fun, and her latest novel set there, Just One Kiss, provides satisfying portions of both. Single mom Patience McGraw remembers her teenage crush, Justice Garrett, with great fondness, but he’s the one who got away—having disappeared from town years ago, without notice. His return is unexpected, but so is an inheritance that allows Patience to pursue a long-held dream of opening her own coffee shop. As Patience and her daughter get to know Justice, surprising details of his life emerge, but the best news is that he’s establishing a security business in town. Though Patience is hesitant to bring a man into her life, her heart can’t resist. Justice is wary of how he might hurt the lovely Patience and adorable Lillie. When his past returns to haunt him, he thinks it’s time to let the mom and little girl go—but his strong feelings don’t make it easy. An endearing romance and intriguing new characters make Mallery’s latest a must-read.

ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read a 7 questions interview with Susan Mallery for Just One Kiss.

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