Romance readers love a wealthy hero, and why not? There’s value in a man able to hire a helicopter, a coach and six horses, or a collection of werewolves to do his bidding — and the bidding of the lucky woman on his arm. But the surprising truth of the billionaire hero (be he duke, vampire or businessman) is this: It’s not money that makes a man compelling, it’s honor. The best romance writers know there’s nothing that builds conflict or makes a gentleman of a rogue more quickly than responsibility. This month, three powerful heroes struggle with the burden of their duty.
Jackie Ashenden introduces us to a compelling modern-day billionaires club populated by tattooed, motorcycle-riding, gambling alpha males in Mine to Take, the first in her latest suspense series, “Nine Circles.” Hero Gabriel Woolf is set on revenge and willing to destroy anything in his way — including beautiful, brilliant Honor St. James. Honor has responsibilities of her own, however, and is willing to fight for those she loves, including the man Gabriel holds responsible for his mother’s death. Here, the battle between love and duty is nearly unbearable; Gabriel’s quest for vengeance soon runs counter to his desire for Honor and his vow to keep her safe — so something must give.
Ashenden twists and tortures her characters with impressive skill, placing everything they desire just beyond the boundaries of what they have promised.
In The Duke’s Guide to Correct Behavior, Megan Frampton explores a different kind of duty: the kind thrust upon a hero. Marcus, Duke of Rutherford, has inherited his dukedom through a series of unlikely events. He is one of the most powerful aristocrats in Britain and is desperately unhappy about it. The arrival of his bastard daughter, orphaned and in need of a governess, makes things worse. Marcus might have ignored the responsibilities of the dukedom, but parenthood is another thing entirely. His daughter needs a father. And a governess. Enter Lily Russell, proprietress of a Victorian-era employment agency, who leaps at the chance to impress a duke with her educational skills. What follows is a charming aristocrat-governess romance. Frampton’s talent shines in building a slow heat between Marcus and Lily, allowing them to work together to overcome their shadowed pasts and reach something neither has had before: a family.
At the heart of Megan Mulry’s Roulette is a daughter’s duty. When Miki Durand arrives in St. Petersburg for a week-long visit with her father, she has the perfect job, the perfect man and the perfect future. But when her father dies, leaving Miki a multimillion-dollar business to run, perfect seems neither possible nor desirable, especially when the business comes with a handsome, billionaire French media mogul as a partner. Jérôme Michel de Villiers is everything Miki isn’t: bold, jet-setting, risky and irresistible.
What follows is a delicious tour of the bright lights and larger-than-life personalities of Paris, Hollywood, Cannes and St. Petersburg as Miki becomes inexorably entwined in Jérôme’s lavish world. But when Jérôme’s personal responsibilities force him to make business decisions that threaten Miki’s future, she chooses family over love, leaving readers to wonder how the author will ever get these two together.
Maclean writes historical romance. Her most recent book is “Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover.”
By Megan Mulry
Montlake. 296 pp. Paperback, $12.95
MINE TO TAKE
By Jackie Ashenden
St. Martin’s. 400 pp. Paperback, $7.99
THE DUKE’S GUIDE TO CORRECT BEHAVIOR
By Megan Frampton
Avon. 384 pp. Paperback, $5.99