Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Best Romances of August: Our Top 6 Picks



Best of the month-RomanceTerror in the Canadian wild, a retired quarterback who has all the right moves except with the private eye who's following him, the search for a missing sister, and a fantasy romance that will blow your chest plate off are among the best romances of August.

 

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In the Barren Ground by Loreth Anne White - I've been a big fan of White's romantic suspense since I read A Dark Lure last summer, and I think In the Barren Ground is her best yet. A five-months-pregnant rookie police officer investigates the killing of two eco-researchers that at first glance is the work of a grizzly, but further investigation points to a ritualized killing. And it's not the first such murder in the Canadian wilderness. Tana Larsson already has a lot going against her (the oncoming winter, antagonistic locals, wild animals, big money in the form of a new diamond mine, and a possibly-criminal small-plane pilot who's her only reliable transportation), and then White throws a lot more at her as well in this twisty thriller that will chill you to the marrow. I spent two days of my sunny vacation ignoring my family while I read this book. One of my favorites of the year.
 

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First Star I See Tonight by Susan Elizabeth Phillips - Phillips invented the sports romance way back when, and her Chicago Stars football team is a favorite among readers. Here, retired Stars quarterback Cooper Graham has it all--looks, fame, and a brand-new night club in Chicago that's the hottest spot in town. The wrench? Piper Dove, a one-woman PI agency whose top (and only) case involves following Coop around town. Phillips excels at writing the scrappy heroine, and Piper is among her most memorable. Longtime readers of Phillips will enjoy this zany return to the Chicago Stars.
 

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A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet - It's no surprise to anyone who attends a romance readers' convention that there's lots of crossover between fantasy readers and romance readers (the number of leather corsets being worn is the big tip-off), but writing squarely between the genres is tough. Bouchet tackles that challenge with gusto, conquering it with assured worldbuilding and a gutsy, magic-infused heroine with trust issues. (Her mom is awful. Even the worst Disney stepmoms have nothing on this woman.) Kinetic action scenes and a slowly unspooling mystery give extra oomph to this top-notch fantasy romance. I'm eagerly awaiting book two.
 

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Burn Down the Night by M. O'Keefe - Those who enjoyed Everything I Left Unsaid and The Truth About Him should happily dive back into O'Keefe's down-and-dirty world of MCs and strip clubs with her latest novel. Starting where the last book left off (though reading it isn't necessary), deposed MC president Max and former stripper Joan are on the run, and the truth about Joan is finally revealed: she's trying (in very desperate ways) to save her sister from a many-wived preacher living in a heavily armed compound. Sexually adventurous and emotionally hollowing, Burn Down the Night is perfect for readers who like their love stories to have a dark side.
 

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A Duke to Remember by Kelly Bowen - Unfortunately, this cover doesn't evoke the plot, which is "former girl soldier tracks down a missing-on-purpose duke and makes him face his family and his new responsibilities." This isn't a Regency comedy of manners. It's way better. A crack shot and a tracker, Elise deVries is hired to find Noah, the missing duke of Ashland. Most believe him dead. His cousin, who is next in line for the duchy, wants him dead. A bit like Bodyguard set during the Regency times, this bright, surprising romance sets aside the intricate social rules and focuses on forging trust and love even when it seems like the whole world is against you.
 

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Sting by Sandra Brown - Fans of bad-boy heroes will delight in Brown's new tale of a kidnapping gone wrong. Hired to kill Jordie Bennet, Shaw Kinnard instead kidnaps her moments before his "partner" tries to kill him, and then attempts to renegotiate the price with the mobster who put out the hit. In the meantime, Jordie's brother has escaped the witness protection program, endangering her further. Fast-paced, sizzling, and garnished with an end-of-book shocker, Sting proves that Brown is still at the top of her game.
 

 

Though it's not on my best romances list, I want to give a shout-out to Colleen Hoover's It Ends with Us, which has an average customer rating of 4.9 stars as of today. In it, Lily and Ryle's relationship becomes the best thing that ever happened to Lily--until it becomes the worst. Not exactly a romance, which is the sole reason it's not on my list, it's an epiphany about relationships, trust, and making the right choices. This novel will linger in your heart for a long, long time.

 


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