By Monica McCarty (Ballantine)
Set in the early 14th century amid the Wars of Scottish Independence, this installment of McCarty’s Highland Guard series begins with the burning of a Scottish village in 1307. The sole survivor, 15-year-old Cate of Lochmaben, is rescued by Gregor “Arrow” MacGregor, member of an elite band of Highland warriors. Gregor takes Cate to his home and leaves her for five years while he returns to battle. When he returns, he finds not scrawny young Cate but beautiful, headstrong Catharine, who has vowed to make Gregor love her. McCarty’s gift lies in writing strong characters into wildly entertaining and often unexpected scenarios.
By Kristen Callihan (Grand Central/Forever)
This volume in Callihan’s Darkest London series — steampunk-paranormal-historical romance hybrids — might be her best book yet. When the heart of part-human, part-demon Will Thorne was ripped from his chest, genius Holly Evernight created a clockwork heart to keep him alive. The heart is now slowly turning Will to metal, and he vows to exact revenge — until he discovers that Holly has the ability to cure his affliction. It soon becomes clear that the magic that will save him will ultimately destroy her, and the stakes of their unexpected love get higher with each page.
FOOL ME TWICE
By Meredith Duran (Pocket)
In “Fool Me Twice,” Duran introduces the handsome and terrifying Duke of Marwick, widely believed to have gone mad after being betrayed by and subsequently losing his wife. Marwick is a classic Byronic hero, literally locked away until Olivia Holladay arrives, planning to steal from him but instead freeing him. Here is the true power of the alpha hero. Olivia cannot help but be drawn to Marwick’s seemingly impenetrable darkness. Duran offers a lovely reminder of why these heroes are so compelling: When they share their secrets, they risk themselves and reveal their emotions.
SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER
By Sarah Morgan (Harlequin)
“For me, love isn’t possible,” Élise Bonnet tells surgeon Sean O’Neil late one night in Morgan’s “Suddenly Last Summer.” Élise’s past is filled with tragedy. She escaped an abusive marriage in Paris and ran to Vermont, where she found a new life as the chef at a ski resort. Though she has sworn off relationships, the brilliant, handsome and charming Sean is difficult to resist. When he professes his love, she panics, leaving him devastated and readers wondering if she will ever come to terms with her past and find the promise of her future. Of course, it’s a love story, so we know she will, but we can’t see how Morgan will make it happen — the hallmark of a great romance.
WHEN THE DUKE WAS WICKED
By Lorraine Heath (Avon)
Lady Grace Mabry, the heroine of “When the Duke Was Wicked,”is so intent on marrying for love that she does what any self-respecting young woman in Victorian London would do: She finds herself a duke who can teach her the difference between a fortune hunter and someone committed to love. Unfortunately, the duke in question is one she’s long pined for, and despite his vow never to love again after the death of his wife, he can’t help himself when it comes to Grace. The question posed by the novel is why Grace is so determined to marry for love. Heath is known for her deeply emotional romances, and this one is no different — full of tears and sighs and a heroine who is shocked by her own strength.
— Sarah MacLean is the author of seven historical romances. Her most recent book is “No Good Duke Goes Unpunished.”