February is the month for romance, and the genre offers a variety of books that showcase the adventure ride of courtship and the joy of two people committing to a lifetime together. Enjoy these sweet stories with a heart-shaped box of chocolates.

Eloisa James presents a clever retelling of an old story in When Beauty Tamed the Beast. Gorgeous Linnet Thrynne can get any man she wants—until a scandal turns society away from her. The solution to her now-unmarriageable state is to marry Piers Yelverton, a bad-tempered aristocrat who can’t afford to be picky. Off Linnet travels to a castle in Wales where Piers, the Earl of Marchant, practices medicine with unorthodox treatments. Though tempted by Linnet’s looks and even more attracted to her intellect, he’s certain the grinding pain of an old injury renders him terrible husband material. Though men have fallen at her feet forever, Linnet can honestly say only Piers has ignited her senses. She’ll have him or no one, but these two stubborn people might just avert the happy ending called for in every fairy tale, until a fateful test proves their love strong and true. With an amusing cast of characters and two principals who are both beautiful and beastly at times, this is an enrapturing bedtime story.

UNDER THE SEA
Devyn Quinn crafts an imaginative romance about mermaids and the human men who love them in Siren’s Surrender. FBI agent Blake Whittaker returns to his hometown of Port Rock, Maine, to investigate an odd undersea earthquake and an archaeologist who went missing as a result. There, Blake comes in contact with Gwen Lonike and her two sisters. His attraction to the innkeeper is immediate, but so is trouble. When they’re attacked by strange, warrior-like women, Blake, Gwen and her family barely escape with their lives. That’s when the agent learns that Gwen and her sisters are mermaids, though Gwen has tried to run from that heritage all her life. She can turn from it no longer, however, as a dangerous Mer queen has escaped her undersea world and is bent on destroying the Lonike women—and subjugating the humans on the planet. But that’s not the only threat to Gwen and Blake’s growing love. The government sees all the Mer as terrorists who must be stopped—even to the point of death. Can Gwen and her sisters survive the peril surrounding them? Find out in this fast-paced and inventive tale.

INTRIGUES OF THE HEART
A smooth Italian nobleman and an intrepid half-American pirate’s daughter clash in Cara Elliott’s To Tempt a Rake. After being orphaned, smart and beautiful Kate Woodridge returns to England to reconcile with her grandfather, a duke. Her friendship with a circle of intellectual women has introduced her to the dissolute Conte of Como. He sets her nerves on high alert and she’s annoyed to find him a guest at her grandfather’s house party, yet their attraction burns as hot as the intrigues surrounding the upcoming conference that will redraw the political boundaries of the European continent. When a murder occurs, Marco and Kate must join forces to find the killer—but that also means they must confront their sizzling attraction. Loner Kate doesn’t know if she can depend on a man with a wicked reputation. And Marco isn’t sure his shriveled heart can open enough to let Kate in. The political context and historical detail add depth to this spicy romance of two independent lovers learning to become a couple.                                        

ROMANCE OF THE MONTH
Susan Elizabeth Phillips delights again with the aptly titled Call Me Irresistible. The residents of small-town Wynette, Texas, blame Meg Koranda, the daughter of Hollywood royalty, when her best friend reneges on her wedding to the community’s golden boy, Ted Beaudine. To make matters worse, Meg is stuck for the summer in the very place where everyone seems to despise her—including the jilted groom. But Meg rises to the challenge and learns a lot about herself and the man who was left at the altar. Ted is gorgeous, smart and just too perfect for messy Meg, but that doesn’t stop her traitorous heart from singing in his presence. While Ted has never let any woman rattle his cool, Meg seems to do that very thing on a regular basis. She’s driving him nuts, but he needs her—to help with his scheme to save the town and just maybe for something much more personal. But after one failed wedding, can he trust himself to take the leap again? Written with sparkling style and filled with witty banter and engaging characters, this story is one to savor.

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