February is a dark and cold month at the best of times, and this year is no exception. But romance comes to the rescue with these hot, humorous, and heartwarming novels that offer a hell of a good time from page one to happily ever after.
For a thoroughly charming read, don’t miss Love at First by Kate Clayborn. Everything changed for Will Sterling at the age of 16 when his mother dragged him, seemingly inexplicably, to his hitherto unknown uncle Donny – for reasons that turned out to be very traumatic. The only bright spot was the blurry image of a girl on the balcony above and the sweet sound of her voice. Years later, he is Doctor Will Sterling, whose eyesight was corrected with glasses, and he inherited his uncle’s apartment, which he plans to renovate for short-term rentals and then sell. The only problem is the girl. It’s still there. And she’s not a fan of his plans.
Her name is Nora, she lives in the apartment that belonged to her late Nonna, and this is not a short-term rental building – it is home to a wonderfully quirky “found family” of elderly residents. Nora engages the other residents in a fun campaign to scare off Will and protect their building. But nothing she does scares him. When she sees him renovating the unit, she asks him to do the same with hers. This is how a romance begins – one “nothing serious” that involves sexy times and renovations (swooning!) Until their past seems to hold them back from the future they deserve. This is a beautifully written romance with a line that perfectly sums up the truth for many romantic characters (or people): We don’t have to love the way we first learned to love.
Eva Leigh’s waiting for a Scot like you is a perfect – and perfectly steamy – Regency frenzy. It’s the last book in their Union of the Rakes franchise to feature novels inspired by ’80s movies – but don’t worry if it’s been a while since you’ve seen them. Lady Farris, a 46-year-old widow, is on her way to an orgy. After years of a crushing marriage, she’s determined to do whatever she darned, and Lord Gibbs’ scandalous party is IT. She accepts the escort of Major Duncan McCameron, the former soldier, for the trip. For him, everything revolves around rules, order and preparation for disasters. She is happy to take every opportunity for adventure – there is no detour or point on the menu that she will not say yes to.
When they arrive at an inn that has only one bed (because road trip romance), their need for one another is very strong and very mutual. As their journey gets crazier – with the sexy times heating up – both Lady Farris and Duncan fear what will happen when they finally get to the orgy. Or after that; He’s a hero who wants to get married and she’s a woman who wants her freedom. Your Happy Ever After may not be conventional, but it is very satisfying indeed.
Grace Calloway’s new series, Lady Charlotte’s Society of Angels, begins a steamy, suspenseful romance with Olivia and the Masked Duke. When she was just 12 years old, Olivia McLeod was saved from drowning by a young Duke of Hadleigh. And so, despite the age difference of 12 years, a beautiful and real friendship begins. When the headstrong Olivia was 19 – and the novel began – she decided to love him. And want him. However, Hadleigh had no intention of getting involved with his cutest friend, who is like a sister to him. Or was.
Hadleigh is shocked at her advances (some of which are moving into the realm of forced seduction) but not immune to them. But with his dark and curvy past including opium addiction and lots of family tragedies, he is determined not to ruin her or their friendship. Complications arise when Olivia and her friends, the brilliantly named Willflowers, join Lady Charlotte’s Society of Angels – a charity on the surface but secretly a society of female detectives. Your first mission involves a murderous opium dealer and Hadleigh is chasing the same villain for personal reasons. As their paths collide again and again in the most scandalous and dangerous circumstances, they are forced to face their desires and deep feelings for one another. This is a very hot and perfectly timed page turner, happy to the end.
Maya Rodale is a best-selling historical romance writer. Her next novel is a historical fiction about Nellie Bly. Connect with her on Twitter: @ Mayarodale