July’s temperatures are hot and so are the four books highlighted this month. From a California contemporary to an edgy urban fantasy, these novels feature spicy conflicts and searing romance.

Readers are in for a fun and thrilling ride in the latest from Jill Shalvis, Instant Gratification. New York-based ER doctor Emma Sinclair is in Wishful, California, tending to her ailing father’s small-town practice. She’s finding it a rocky go—though the Lake Tahoe region is beautiful, Emma is a city girl accustomed to a faster pace.Here, patients are few and her patience is tried by the appearance of hunky Stone Wilder in her treatment room. One of three brothers who run a mountain adventure business, he’s sexy and confident—and confident he doesn’t need her needles or stitches. The attraction is undeniable, and slowly Stone persuades Emma to revel in his company. But the city calls louder than love . . . or does it? A capable woman bumps hearts with a determined man in a story that’s both sizzling and sweet.

Timely plot
Suspense and family drama mix in Joan Johnston’s latest romantic thriller, Outcast. Former Army sniper Ben Benedict is now an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer in Washington, D.C. His current assignment: working with the metropolitan police to curb gang violence. But that very violence turns Ben onto a dangerous path when he witnesses the grisly death of a young informant. After a shooting, his boss sends Ben to psychologist Dr. Anna Schuster for evaluation. He’s distracted by her blond beauty, only furthering his troubles because he’s hiding debilitating episodes of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Despite the need to keep things professional between them, Anna can’t ignore her attraction to Ben or her strong need to help the man cope with his demons. As she struggles to help him heal, both are drawn further into a deadly scheme of international terrorism. Will they survive to build on their blossoming relationship? With a breathless pace and a large cast of characters, this gritty tale includes complex relationships and family secrets at last revealed.

Sweet interlude
Friendship forged in a reform school for aristocratic boys is the starting point for Mary Jo Putney’s Regency-era historical, Loving a Lost Lord. Heroine Mariah Clarke finds security at last when her gambling father wins a country estate. But he leaves her there alone and another man comes into her life—one she pulls half-dead from the sea. “Adam” awakens to the gentle touch of a woman and the realization that he’s lost his memory. He and Mariah spend a blissful interlude of love and passion until he’s found by his childhood friends and must return to London to rediscover his life—and uncover who might be interested in ending it. As Adam recoups his memories, he does not lose his passion for Mariah, but his obligations may make a future for them impossible—if he lives long enough to see it. Brimming with broken families and friends bonding once again, Loving a Lost Lord will make readers eager for the next installment in the series.

Out of this world
Elements of urban fantasy and paranormal romance combine in Gena Showalter’s Seduce the Darkness. Vampire Bride McKells thinks she’s the only one of her kind on earth, and she’s been wandering for years trying to find the sole friend she ever had. She’s never found a hint of her, not until she happens upon an otherworlder who bears the distinctive scent of the one she seeks. If that was not enough, the very attractive King of the Targons, Devyn de bon ci Laci, speaks of other vampires he’s known. But Devyn, an agent for AIR (Alien Investigation and Removal), doesn’t want to get tangled up with the lovely vampire, especially now when there’s a dire threat to humans on the horizon. But Bride and Devyn do tangle—and team up—and battle ferociously against their attraction and their enemies. Imaginative and sexy, this story teems with nonstop action.

Christie Ridgway’s latest contemporary romance, Dirty Sexy Knitting, is now on the shelves.

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