Of all the myriad ways we define love, there is perhaps none more honest and powerful than this: Great love is rooted in great partnership. Without our hero, our heroine cannot complete her journey, and without our heroine, our hero is utterly lost. The best partnerships aren’t dependent on a mere common goal, but on a shared path of equality, desire and no small amount of passion. October brings us three romances that take partnership to a new level, and deliver couples who are undoubtedly made for each other.
Innocent Prey (Mira; paperback, $7.99), the fourth book in Maggie Shayne’s Brown and de Luca series, is a terrific stand-alone mystery. Self-help guru Rachel de Luca has regained her eyesight, but retains the ability to know when others are lying — a skill that makes her an invaluable partner to Detective Mason Brown. The two soon find themselves working together to find a serial kidnapper and killer. The challenge of romantic suspense is balancing a rewarding love story with a mystery that is both curious and convincing, and that is where Shayne shines. As Rachel and Mason race to find a group of abducted teenage girls before they meet a terrifying end, their romance builds slowly and powerfully. These two have resisted their emotions, but can’t any longer as danger closes in, threatening Rachel’s life. The ending will please romance and mystery readers alike — and have them looking for the rest of the books in this series.
Cara Connelly delivers a delicious partnership of a different kind in The Wedding Vow (Avon; paperback, $7.99). Billionaire playboy Adam LeCroix is the Robin Hood of the art world: He has spent his life stealing great masters’ artwork from the worst of humankind. Former prosecutor Maddie St. Clair nearly delivered Adam to justice several years ago, but his charm and wealth kept him from prison. Connelly has found a clever way to turn the tables on these two, however. As the book begins, Adam’s priceless Monet is stolen, and he needs Maddie to represent him in negotiations with the insurance company that holds the policy on his painting. This is a classic enemies-to-lovers romance, and the two are deeply reluctant, very entertaining partners. Once Adam and Maddie discover their mutual attraction, it’s only a matter of time before they discover mutual admiration, “unexpected, unfathomable. No warning, no net.” Their fall is as fun as it is satisfying — for heroine, hero and reader alike.
Jennifer Ashley offers readers a look at the way love builds partnerships in Rules for a Proper Governess (Berkley; paperback, $7.99). The hero, Sinclair McBride, is a Scottish barrister in Victorian London with “eyes filled with a vast sadness,” who captures the attention of Roberta “Bertie” Frasier, expert pickpocket. Bertie intended to steal his pocket watch and never see him again, but Sinclair’s sadness makes him wonderfully compelling, and she can’t resist his pull, or that of his unruly children. Sinclair soon realizes that Bertie is the only person those children are willing to heed, and he hires her as a governess of sorts, sealing their unconventional partnership. Bertie and Sinclair bear deep wounds as victims of a world that does not hesitate to break those who show weakness. Together, though, these two are immeasurably strong. Their ultimate triumph is well-earned and beautiful to watch.
MacLean writes historical romance. Her next book, “Never Judge a Lady By Her Cover,” will be published in November.