The rough-and-tumble West is the setting for romance in Rosanne Bittner’s Paradise Valley. In 1886, widow Maggie Tucker teams up with rancher Sage Lightfoot to track the thieves who murdered both her husband and Sage’s foreman. Though Sage is reluctant to take the young redhead on such an arduous journey, she proves her courage and grit to him early on. Sage is aware of Maggie’s sexual appeal, too, but due to a previous love affair gone bad, he intends to ignore the attraction. However, close quarters and Maggie’s desire to be with a man who makes her feel safe—and whom she has come to love—push them into passion. Now traveling as husband and wife, they tackle varied dangers, make new friends and learn about each other’s pasts and past hurts. Maggie fears she might never have claim to Sage’s heart, but she holds on to hope as they draw closer to their quarry. Bittner has written an enthralling, gritty read with colorful, dangerous characters, as well as a hero and heroine who face hard lives yet are not hardened to love.

LOVE, WYOMING STYLE
Dakota Carson, a former Navy SEAL suffering from PTSD, finds love and new purpose in Lindsay McKenna’s The Loner. After leaving military service, Dakota lives in an isolated cabin in the mountains of Wyoming with only a half-tame wolf for company. An encounter with a ferocious bear drives him to the nearest town, where he meets beautiful Shelby Kincaid, deputy sheriff. While Shelby sympathizes with Dakota’s inner demons and their attraction is palpable, Dakota isn’t ready to end his seclusion. After two violent convicts escape and there’s reason to suspect they might want revenge on Shelby, Dakota leaves his hideout to track the wrong-doers and to protect the woman he’s growing to care so much about. Still, he believes his disorder makes him the wrong man for her, and it is only after a few more traumatic events that they both realize they are better together than apart. With a wild, rural setting that poses many kinds of risks, this fast-paced and suspenseful page-turner will set pulses pounding.

TOP PICK IN ROMANCE
Stephanie Laurens offers her trademark blend of lush passion edged with danger in her historical romance The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh. As the last unmarried Cynster of her generation, Mary Cynster is serious about finding the right husband—one unlike the domineering types who people her family tree. To that end, she’s set her sights on a gentleman she believes will be the best mate for her . . . though an entirely different male is constantly putting himself in her path: Ryder Cavanaugh, the Marquess of Raventhorne. As he attempts to convince Mary that her target is a poor match for her, Ryder comes to realize that she would, instead, be the perfect bride for him. But will Mary, who likes to be in charge, be willing to become the wife of a man who is not only a legendary lover, but also one renowned for his strong will? Threats to both their lives require that they combine forces, accelerating their growing romance—and making readers worry about whether they’ll survive. A sensual, action-packed treat.

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