Spring means storms and flowers, a contrast mirrored in this month’s selection of stirring romances. Romantic suspense, small-town drama and dukes both masked and unmasked provide entertainment for rainy days or warming nights.

A woman must confront family secrets, a former crush and murder in Shattered by Karen Robards. At her job in the district attorney’s office, Lisa Grant discovers a 30-year-old cold-case file that includes a missing family’s photograph—and discovers an eerie resemblance between herself and the pictured mother. As she delves further into the mystery, events turn dangerous, causing Lisa to involve her boss and the object of her teenage affection, Scott Buchanan. Scott doesn’t want to love the girl he always considered pampered, but he can’t help himself from exploring his fiery attraction to the woman. Maybe they’ll find something lasting, if Lisa can escape whoever seems to be out to kill her. The Kentucky backdrop adds another level of steam to this already sexy thriller.

Love unmasked
Jo Beverley returns readers to Georgian England and the world of her Malloren family and friends in The Secret Duke. After being kidnapped, young Bella Barstowe manages to free herself—and is ultimately rescued by the handsome Captain Rose. But, suspecting he’s dangerous as well as dashing, Bella steals his horse and flees for home, where she is made to pay penance for the scandal. Four years later, she lands herself in yet more trouble as she sets out to avenge her mysterious abduction. The daring Captain Rose seems a natural partner for her plan, and she makes contact. Problem is, Captain Rose is really the powerful Duke of Ithorne, who uses his alternate identity as an occasional break from his responsibilities. He’s intrigued by the beauty who bested him years before and sympathetic to her cause, but who will rescue the Duke from falling for the woman who considers him to be a different man? High adventure and appealing characters make this another winner for Beverley.

Small-town secrets
Barbara Freethy’s latest Angel’s Bay novel, On Shadow Beach, teems with action, drama and compelling situations. Lauren Jamison returns to the central California coast to assess how her father is coping with Alzheimer’s. The homecoming is more bitter than sweet— her father’s condition has deteriorated, and she’s inundated with memories of her teenage sister, whose unsolved murder broke up the family 13 years before. But there are old friends in Angel’s Bay, too, as well as her former high school sweetheart, who some still suspect may have been her sister’s murderer. Once back in her old house, Lauren is driven to look for answers to unresolved questions: Where is her sister’s diary? Why was Shane Murray, her boyfriend, with her sister on the night of her death? Is her sister’s killer still in Angel’s Bay? As she launches her own investigation, she and Shane rekindle their romance, though there remain things that he won’t tell. Other storylines involving town residents add further poignancy to this fast-paced page-turner that unravels small-town scandals and secrets.

Werewolf in London
A werewolf duke in Regency times stars in A Certain Wolfish Charm by Lydia Dare. Unaccustomed to being questioned, Simon Westfield, the Duke of Blackmoor, is irritated when a beautiful spinster takes him to task for ignoring his young ward. Lily Rutledge has been caring for the boy for six years, but now he’s 12 and changing in ways she cannot comprehend . . . ways that Simon fully understands. Aware now of his duty, he decides to bring the child into his household and raise him to understand his animal nature, without explaining to Lily just what that nature is. But Lily refuses to leave her beloved charge, and while Simon may gnash his teeth at her stubborn manner, he can’t ignore the attraction he feels for her. Their mutual passion ultimately leads them into marriage, yet Lily knows Simon is holding back more than the “I love you” she longs to hear. A spirited woman and a fierce man delightfully clash in this sexy novel about the impossibility of hiding from full moons or full hearts. 

Christie Ridgway writes contemporary romance from her home in Southern California.

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