In Shana Galen’s Sapphires Are an Earl’s Best Friend, Lily Dawson, the celebrated “Countess of Charm,” is known as a beautiful and experienced courtesan. In reality, she works for the Crown, tasked with uncovering the identity of the person behind a plot to an assassinate Britain’s most talented spies. Lily’s mission takes her to the household of a duke, and she’s willing to do what she must to learn his secrets . . . until the duke’s son, Andrew Booth-Payne, the Earl of Darlington, gets in her way. Lily loves Andrew, but he’s always been interested in her best friend. Now in close proximity to the intriguing and mysterious Lily, Andrew finds he can’t resist her. As he begins to suspect she isn’t the practiced lover she pretends to be, he wonders about her true agenda. When he discovers the truth, he feels betrayed. But will they survive in order to deal with it? Complex characters and tender emotion round out an action-filled story.

SIZZLING SUSPENSE

Kate Brady offers a tale of chilling romantic suspense in Where Evil Waits. Special prosecutor Kara Chandler fears for her life and that of her son, leading her to hire cartel assassin Luke Varón to keep them safe. Luke is startled by the request—Kara has every reason to despise him. But when he learns that she’s begun looking into her husband’s “accidental” death and that the people she talks to about it are turning up dead, Luke’s not only curious—he’s worried. Her investigation might put his own at risk. Actually an FBI agent, Luke’s in the middle of a covert operation. Not only can he not afford the distraction of guarding beautiful Kara, but his investigation is also bound up in the criminal enterprise of her late husband. Still, he can’t say no to the smart and sexy woman. After Luke reveals his true identity, they get romantically involved and realize they’ve been looking in the wrong direction for the bad guy. A creepy villain, great chemistry and a compelling plot make this a standout story.

TOP PICK IN ROMANCE

In Virginia Kantra’s Carolina Man, Marine Luke Fletcher is in Afghanistan when he learns that he has a 10-year-old daughter, Taylor. The girl’s mother—Luke’s high school girlfriend—has just passed away, so Luke has been granted custody, despite the protests of the girl’s maternal grandparents. His deployment over, Luke returns to his family home on Dare Island to become a father to his daughter. Though unsure in his new role, Luke is certain about his attraction to lawyer Kate Dolan. Kate feels drawn to Luke, but as the child of an abusive father who was also a Marine, she’s wary of getting emotionally attached to anyone, let alone a military man. Still, it’s hard to turn away from the strong warrior with good intentions, and before long, Kate finds herself falling for him and Taylor, too. But can the three of them truly come together as a family when Luke’s military career will bring lengthy separations? Filled with tender moments and sexy, sparkling exchanges, Kantra’s latest Dare Island romance is satisfying and sigh-worthy. Kate and Luke must learn to trust and let go of their guilt in order to find happiness together. A shivery, sensual and sensational read.

ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read a 7 questions interview with Virginia Kantra for Carolina Man.

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