As winter approaches — bringing cold weather and family drama — we crave page-turners, books made for long nights and tryptophan-induced sloth. The best of these novels are brimful of conflict that has readers wondering what comes next. This month, three new romance novels keep characters at odds and happily-ever-after at bay, making for incredibly rewarding reads.

Lauren Layne’s “Made for You” is a classic enemies-to-lovers romance, filled with hilarious push-pull comedy that works so well when opposites attract. Will Thatcher and Brynn Dalton have been enemies since high school. Three years ago, after a misguided one-night stand, Will left town, and they both vowed to forget each other. But some vows can’t be kept, and now Will is back, just in time to witness Brynn’s perfectly planned life falling apart. Soon, they’re at odds once more — odds that make for great dialogue and tremendous sex. “She was ice and order and calm,” Layne writes, and “he was fire and instinct and chaos.” But these two are somehow perfect for each other — if only they would realize that for themselves. It takes a skilled author to turn such unyielding characters around, but Brynn and Will sizzle. When they’re on the page together, they make a fabulous match.

In Emmy Curtis’s “Pushing the Limit ,” the hero and heroine are at odds of a different kind. Henrietta “Harry” Markowitz is a military widow and archaeologist in Iraq who has unearthed evidence of a military plane crash. She is paired with Air Force Sgt. Matt Stanning to investigate what soon appears to be a military coverup. While they work together, they’re forced apart because Matt isn’t just any Air Force sergeant. He was a squad-mate of Harry’s husband, and as his attraction to her grows, so, too, does his guilt. The novel offers as much action adventure as it does romance, and soon Harry and Matt are fighting for their lives. Curtis doesn’t shy away from emotion, and Matt’s complex balance of grief and desire is deeply compelling, as is the military-grade mystery that keeps the story moving.

In “The Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane ,” Elizabeth Boyle explores the guilt and reclusiveness that often come with being a war hero. When the aptly named Louisa Tempest arrives in London with her troublesome cat, the quiet Viscount Wakefield doesn’t know quite what has hit him, but he is certain he doesn’t like his new neighbor. Despite Wakefield’s unwelcoming temper, Louisa finds herself drawn to him. She decides to put his household in order in the hopes of proving the adage about tidy homes and tidy minds. What ensues is a delightful romance in which the hero and heroine find happiness at a slow, lovely pace. Boyle deftly balances the viscount’s demons with Louisa’s charm, until he cannot imagine life without her.

MacLean reviews romance every month for The Washington Post. Her next novel, “Never Judge a Lady By Her Cover,” will be published later this month.


By Lauren Layne

Grand Central/Forever. 272 pp. Paperback, $17


By Emmy Curtis

Grand Central/Forever. 272 pp. Paperback, $17


By Elizabeth Boyle

Avon. 384 pp. Paperback, $7.99