Self-avowed singletons first get together as friends-with-benefits in Gimme Some Sugar by Kimberly Kincaid. In the midst of a nasty divorce, chef Carly di Matisse left New York City to run a restaurant at a resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains. When a storm damages her cabin, Jackson Carter comes to the rescue, though morning-averse Carly doesn’t much appreciate the sounds of hammers and saws so early in the day. But it’s difficult for her to ignore the sexy builder’s hard body, and it’s not long before they move past witty banter to wicked kisses. Neither is looking for long-term romance, however, so they merely enjoy companionship and no-strings-attached sex. When a family crisis causes Carly to need support, Jackson steps up and proves himself to be the kind of man who could renew her faith in love. But Jackson’s past makes him think it’s dangerous to have such strong feelings, and so he turns his back on Carly and all she has to offer. Will he change his mind? Smokin’ love scenes and well-drawn secondary characters (as well as recipes!) create a fun summer read.

UNEARTHING BURIED SECRETS
A small town harbors heinous secrets in Deeper Than Need, the first book in Shiloh Walker’s new Secrets & Shadows series. Trinity Ewing and her young son, Micah, are hoping to make a fresh start in an older home she plans to rehab. Contractor Noah Benningfield is no hardship to work with—unless you count the distraction factor. The ruggedly good-looking guy is sexy as sin and seems to be the right man for Trinity. Should she trust this instant feeling? Noah can’t keep his thoughts from Trinity, either, though he’s spent years mourning his first love. Her sudden disappearance 20 years ago sent him into a destructive spiral, and a frightening discovery at Trinity’s house threatens to drag him under again, while also shining light on an evil that’s been hiding in the town’s shadows. Though some closure comes at the story’s end, there is more to the mystery that will be revealed in subsequent books in the series. A spooky house and hints of wicked deeds add up to an atmospheric, chilling tale.

TOP PICK IN ROMANCE
Despite the dire circumstances of their first meeting, unlikely lovers fight their way to happiness in The Scoundrel’s Seduction by Jennifer Haymore. Undercover agent Samson Hawkins doesn’t flinch from his duty to protect his country. When he’s ordered to assassinate a traitorous aristocrat, Sam complies—then is horrified to discover that the man’s wife witnessed the act. To keep it secret, Sam kidnaps the beautiful Élise, Lady Dunthorpe, and awaits further instructions. Élise isn’t sad her awful husband is gone. Not only was he verbally cruel to her, but she was also aware of his nefarious deeds and had been trying to get the evidence to expose him herself. She doesn’t want to be some stranger’s prisoner, however, even though the strong, handsome Sam treats her with respect. When they realize they’re in danger, they go on the run, finding in each other heated desire, then love. Will they live to enjoy it? Readers will get caught up in this story filled with action, passion and characters deserving of their happy ending.

 

This article was originally published in the June 2014 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read a 7 questions interview with Jennifer Haymore about The Scoundrel's Seduction.

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