With tens of thousands of romance novels published each year, the genre can seem overwhelming. This month offers an assortment of excellent books to try, showcasing the breadth of romance in the hands of talented authors.
Dystopian romance star Kit Rocha (the pseudonym for the cowriting team of Bree Bridges and Donna Herren) begins her new, far-reaching Gideon’s Riders series with Ashwin . Set in the same post-apocalyptic universe of Rocha’s best-selling Beyond series, “Aswhin” takes place six months after the end of war. Ashwin, a lieutenant to the leader of Sector One, is genetically modified to be a powerful, deadly soldier. When he returns to camp after months away, it is to discover the only woman he’s ever cared about has left the city and found welcome refuge as a doctor. For her part, Kora Bellamy thought Ashwin died in the war — the only reasonable explanation for his disappearing without a word. What ensues is a passionate, emotional romance about rekindled lost love and the secrets we can’t help but keep. Rocha excels at layering complex characters and vivid settings in deceptively simple love stories.
For thriller lovers, Jennifer L. Armentrout has a new romantic suspense series that begins with Till Death (Morrow), the story of Sasha Keeton, a woman who narrowly escaped the clutches of a serial killer a decade ago only to return to her home town to face her past. These things never go as planned, however, and upon her return, a copycat killer — chillingly called the Groom — resurfaces, and Sasha is immediately in danger. This time, however, she’s no child, and neither is Cole Landis, the boy she’d loved and lost when she left town. He’s now an FBI agent willing to do anything to protect her and win her back. Heroes are Armentrout’s hallmark — they are noble and romantic and unflaggingly loyal to their heroines. Cole is all of these things. Here, Armentrout matches the perfect hero with a heroine with strength and power, and that partnership is as electric as the mystery is compelling.
Readers looking for something on the lighter side will find Sarah Title’s delightful The Undateable (Zabra Shout/Kensington) the ideal read. When a video captures university librarian Melissa “Bernie” Bernard scowling at a flashmob marriage proposal, Disapproving Librarian becomes everyone’s favorite Internet meme. Horrified and embarrassed, Bernie vows to avoid the spotlight, until failing dating advice columnist Colin Rodriguez offers to remake her image — and his own career. He offers Bernie a makeover and a month of dates, many of which are disastrous, until Colin puts himself in the running to date the undateable. Perfect for readers looking for a tamer read that doesn’t sacrifice electric chemistry, “The Undateable” is a delicious romance — clever, funny and honest.
Sarah MacLean reviews romance novels monthly for The Washington Post. Her most recent book is “A Scot in the Dark.”