If you’re looking for sweet, feel-good love stories to read this Valentine’s Day, our romance expert Christie Ridgway has highlighted several in her February column. For those of you craving romance with an edge, some thrills or a paranormal slant, here is a trio of steamy, suspenseful books. If the edge-of-your seat intrigue doesn't send your pulse skyrocketing, the gorgeous and courageous heroes certainly will. 

RISING FROM THE ASHES
In Cynthia Eden’s Burn for Me, investigative reporter Eve Bradley uses a fake identity to penetrate the lower levels of the Genesis facility, where she finds proof that the labs are conducting illegal experiments on shifters. When she sees Cain chained and wounded, she discovers a supernatural being she never dreamed existed. Cain is a phoenix, and when he dies, he burns to ash, only to be reborn—stronger and sometimes dangerously closer to losing his humanity.

Though Cain is drawn to Eve, he knows there can be no future with the beautiful and vulnerable human. After rescuing her from the Genesis lab, he leaves her behind so that he can track down the shifter who betrayed him. But, just a few short hours later, Cain has to save Eve again, and it’s clear that the shadowy government agency that supports the experimental lab is hunting Eve. She becomes his Achilles' heel, with Genesis scientists wanting to torture her to control Cain. Eve and Cain must race against time and face overwhelming odds to evade their pursuers and survive.

Eden melds a wildly inventive paranormal world with lots of steamy romance and high adventure. The result is a high-octane, roller-coaster ride laced with chills and thrills.

YOU CAN'T FIGHT FATE
In Cecy Robson’s Cursed by Destiny—the third in her Weird Girls series—tigress shapeshifter Celia Wird has joined forces with the vampire Alliance to fight the evil threatening the paranormal world. She’s grieving the loss of Aric, her alpha lover and mate, a purebred wolf shifter who’s been ordered by his Pack Elders to choose a fellow purebred female and procreate. The wolves are a dying breed, and Aric’s conscience has compelled him to reluctantly agree to the pending marriage.

Celia tries to focus on destroying the demons that threaten her world, but it quickly becomes clear that an evil, unknown entity is targeting Celia herself. Though torn between his duty to his Pack and his love for Celia, Aric can’t stand by and let her fight alone, so he joins her—despite the anger of the Pack Elders. But even with Aric’s support and Celia’s own powerful abilities, their survival is no sure thing.

Robson has meshed an adventurous paranormal plot—rife with scary, unsavory monsters and evil villains—with a heart-wrenching romance. Throw in a kick-ass heroine and a very hunky hero, and the result is a book that’s sure to please romance readers everywhere.

DEATH STALKS TORNADO ALLEY
Going Twice is the second novel (following Going Once) in Sharon Sala’s Forces of Nature series. In this installment, FBI investigator Wade Luckett and his team are once again chasing the elusive serial killer called Stormchaser. Powerful tornados are ripping swathes of destruction across Oklahoma, and Stormchaser is following in their paths, exacerbating the violence and death by ritually executing survivors. When an additional agent is sent to join Wade’s team, he’s stunned to learn it’s his ex-wife, Jolene. Tragedy tore them apart three years earlier, but despite their subsequent divorce, Wade still loves her.

Jo Luckett still loves Wade, too, and seeing him is difficult. Working in close proximity, however, forces them to interact, and it’s soon clear that both are interested in exploring their buried feelings for each other. But romance must wait, because a series of terrifying storms descends upon Missouri, followed by Stormchaser, who is furious when the media focuses on Wade and Jo rather than on his kills. Stormchaser sets his sights on Jo, and if Wade and his team of FBI agents don’t move quickly, she’ll be his next victim.

Sala has created an engaging and sympathetic couple in Wade and Jo and pitted them against a truly terrifying and brilliant villain. Unlike many fictional serial killers, Stormchaser is multi-dimensional, sometimes even likeable, and his insanity adds to the well-conceived and executed plot. The twist at the end of the book is worthy of Agatha Christie at her best. Sala’s fans will thoroughly enjoy this latest novel and impatiently await the upcoming third—and final—story featuring the Stormchaser, due out this fall.

Lois Dyer writes from Port Orchard, Washington. 

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