Mythologies mingle in Kira Brady’s imaginative debut, Hearts of Darkness. Nurse Kayla Friday travels to Seattle to unravel the mystery of her sister’s murder. There, life only turns more puzzling. Soon, she’s seeking clues to her sister’s death in the company of Hart, a sexy but cursed werewolf. Hart is bound to a Norse dragon battling yet another segment of the paranormal world, the Kivati—shapeshifters tasked with protecting humans. Kayla, who considers herself a woman of reason, now has to believe in all manner of unreasonable things as well as rely on Hart. She finds herself falling for the man, and he for her, but there are dangerous demons and ghosts to fight off, as well as a looming bloody battle they might not survive. Part steampunk and part shifter romance, this fast-paced, gritty story will thrill paranormal readers.

Three women and three men find themselves sharing a magic Tuscan castle (or is it cursed?) in Juliana Gray’s A Lady Never Lies. At the end of the 19th century, these acquaintances are forced into close proximity, sparking reluctant romances. Lady Alexandra Morley, a widow who is escaping money troubles, finds herself in trouble of another kind when she’s attracted to Finn Burke, a wealthy inventor. He’s readying an electric-powered horseless carriage for an upcoming auto exposition in Rome and doesn’t have time for flirtation—but his heart believes otherwise. As Alexandra and Finn spend time together in the beautiful, perhaps enchanted countryside, they fall in love. But is there a future for the society-conscious lady and the low-born inventor? Witty repartee, intriguing glimpses of other couples embroiled in their own love affairs and an exciting race at the finish make this a standout story. The fresh setting and details about the development of the automobile will charm readers, leaving them primed for the next book in the trilogy. Delightful.

Infused with lush descriptions of food, place and feelings, Lisa Kleypas’ Dream Lake is a lovely novel of magical realism and aching romance. Damaged by a bitter divorce and his childhood with alcoholic parents, Alex Nolan is in the process of losing his home, a good portion of his construction business and, perhaps, his sanity—the latter because he’s being haunted by a stranger’s ghost. While coming to grips with all that’s gone wrong, Alex takes on the job of rehabbing a home for baker Zoë Hoffman, whose sweetness and optimism he worries will be damaged by his dark edges. But Zoë can’t help but be drawn to Alex. Even as she cares for her ailing grandmother, she manages to work her kitchen magic on the brooding man, finally persuading him to succumb to their mutual attraction. Can Alex learn to have faith in love before events make that impossible? This is Kleypas at her contemporary best: The writing wows and the ending evokes happy tears.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read a 7 questions interview with Kleypas about Dream Lake.

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