In a romance novel, there’s nothing like an element of danger and mystery to make the heart beat faster and the pages turn quickly. These three novels feature heroes in danger from mysterious assassins, deranged shooters, and angry airship pirates — and the heroines who protect them. There’s one danger that can’t be avoided, though: losing their hearts. Fortunately for these characters, danger is no match for true love.
Devil in Disguise, by Lisa Kleypas
With Devil In Disguise, the seventh book in her Ravenels series, Lisa Kleypas reminds us why she’s one of the greats of historical romance. From the first page, sparks are flying between hero and heroine. Kier McRae, a whiskey distiller from Scotland, is irate about how his shipment of precious cargo has been handled by Lady Merritt Sterling, who has taken over her late husband’s shipping company. She sets out to pacify her angry customer but swiftly finds herself attracted to him. When there’s a chance for a kiss she claims it — even if they’ve only just met.
Their romance seems to happen fast, but for good reason: Someone is trying to kill Kier, and it seems they’ll stop at nothing. Luckily for Kier, Merritt is ferociously, relentlessly caring despite his protestations — and at the risk of her own reputation. Because love, of course. She’s determined to keep him safe while she and her friends and family learn who is after him and why. But that’s not the only thing keeping them apart: Can a London Lady ever be happy living the simple life in Scotland? Some readers might want a hero who acts with more agency, but Kier is a good man in a series of impossible situations. Fortunately, he finds a woman who loves him for the man he knows himself to be — and the man he must become.
Incense and Sensibility, by Sonali Dev
Incense and Sensibility is a lovely contemporary romance featuring a sweet second chance at love. This latest installment in her series about the Raje family features Yash, ambitious brother to previous heroines Trisha and Ashna. Yash is running for governor of California, and his lifelong dream is in reach when a shooter at his rally hits him and gravely injures his bodyguard. Understandably, Yash suffers anxiety attacks when he attempts to return to the campaign trail. His family enlists the help of India Dashwood, a longtime family friend who is an excellent yoga instructor and stress management coach. If anyone can help Yash overcome his anxiety and win the election, it’s India. She has problems of her own — a sick mother and yoga studio to keep afloat — but she has time to help Yash, even if he broke her heart years ago.
What his family doesn’t know is that Yash and India have a past that complicates their present. Years earlier, they had one night of passionate connection before he ghosted her and soon after became publicly linked with another woman whose ambitions were also served by a relationship of convenience. But now, with the election looming, Yash will have to decide if he’s going to risk his lifelong dream for true love. And India will have to choose if she’ll let him derail his chances at winning the election, just for her.
Dead Dukes Tell No Tales, by Catherine Stein
A fun, steampunk romp featuring lady pirates, reluctant dukes and hidden treasure. Cliff Kinsley was a Chicago scrap metal merchant, but now he’s the new Duke of Hartleigh — and he has no interest in the title or responsibilities that come with it. Especially since the late duke’s duchess is intent on finding him a “proper” wife and sending his beloved seven-year-old daughter to boarding school. The obvious solution is to fake his death and escape to California. For that, he’ll need help from La Capitaine.
Sabine Diebin, La Capitaine, is a retired pirate who finally has a home in the late “mad dukes” mansion, which is littered with gadgets and inventions — and somewhere in all the mess is the treasure she seeks. She’s desperate to get it before her nemesis, Redbeard, does and for that she’ll need help sorting through the junk. Enter Hartleigh. He agrees to help her if she’ll help him fake his death. But the search for the treasure proves to be more dangerous — and more necessary — than they anticipated, especially when their passion starts causing problems. This is a fast paced, flippant and fun romance adventure that will keep you turning pages all the way until happy ever after.
Maya Rodale is a bestselling author of historical romance. Her next novel is a work of historical fiction about Nellie Bly. Connect with her on Twitter: @mayarodale