Is there anything better than curling up next to a fire on a cold night and losing yourself in a romance novel? 2016 still has a few treats in store for readers, including a wild Scotsman, a transgender hero, and a hunky football player. Meanwhile 2017 is kicking off with new titles from favorites like Eloisa James, Beverly Jenkins, and Lisa Kleypas. Some titles are sweet, some are steamy, and all are fantastic love stories. Whether your TBR list leans naughty or nice, we’ve got the book for you.
Recipe for love
Jude Sierra’s Detroit-based romance is perfect for foodies with a soft spot for love. Five years ago, all of Asher’s dreams were coming true: He was finally a restaurant owner, and he was married to the love of his life. Then John died, and everything came to a screeching halt. Now, Asher is ready to breathe new life into Idlewild, his restaurant, but he isn’t as ready to open his heart to love, no matter how cute his new hire Tyler is. Kirkus named this one of the best books of 2016, so we don’t think you’ll want to miss out.
On shelves: December 1
Publishers Weekly says that the 12th installment of Jaci Burton’s Play-by-Play series may be her “best book yet,” and we think you’ll agree. Flynn Cassidy is the defensive end for the San Francisco Sabers. He’s used to the spotlight and the women who chase him in hopes of having that light shine on them too. He’s searching for something different, something real with a woman who loves him for who he is and not his fame. When he meets Amelia Lawrence, the new head chef at his restaurant (named Ninety-Two, after his jersey number), he thinks he may have found what he’s looking for. But he’s been burned before and so has Amelia, a recent divorcée whose confidence was left shattered by her ex. Will they be able to overcome their pasts and learn to trust each other? This book is a winner for sports romance fans.
On shelves: December 6
Tough as nails
YouTube vlogger Renard Grant relied on his online community when transitioning from female to male. They saw him through gender-reassignment surgery, testosterone therapy, and more. But they don’t know about his secret identity: He’s a member of Black Iris, a vigilante group bent on preventing abusive men from hurting women. Renard, who was sexually assaulted before he transitioned, knows all too well the physical and emotional wounds left by the kind of men he fights against. With the help of his new partner, a powerhouse woman named Tamsin, Renard is ready for anything. In a starred review, Kirkus writes, “Having lived as both a man and a woman has both gifted and cursed him with perspective—a shifting dynamic that results in palpable emotional anguish, shocking twists, and scorching love scenes.” Author Elliot Wake (who is transgender himself and previously published three novels under the name Leah Rader) delivers a heart-pounding, thrilling romance that readers won’t be able to put down.
On shelves: December 6
Dancing through life
Upon returning to London, Duke Hamish MacHugh hopes to leave his memories of the war behind him. Unfortunately, his wartime nickname—“the Duke of Murder”—seems to be sticking. Thankfully, his waltzing instructor, the beautiful Megan Windham, doesn’t seemed bothered by the rumors floating around about the Scotsman and how he earned the name. She sees him for who he is. Hamish is taken with her, but he isn’t the only one. Sir Fletcher Pilkington knows a secret about Megan’s past and is using it to blackmail her into marriage. This is the start of a new series from fan-favorite Grace Burrowes, and readers are sure to end this book itching for the next installment.
On shelves: December 20
Do you trust me?
Englishwoman Margot Armstrong always resented the fact that she was used as a bargaining chip by her father and married off to a rugged and wild Scotsman named Arran Mackenzie. It’s why she fled the highlands and returned to England as soon as she could. But two years later, she returns to Arran, claiming to be remorseful and hoping to make amends. Arran is rightfully suspicious of her motives. As it turns out, Margot is once again following her father’s orders and spying to see if Arran is loyal to the throne. Julia London’s first Highland Grooms installment is a passionate tale where two lovers must come together to recognize their past mistakes and learn to forge a new path forward together. Starred by both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, this is a title historical romance fans won’t want to miss out on.
On shelves: December 27
The course of true love
If you like your historical romances based in reality, this is the book for you. Josi S. Kilpack’s latest is inspired by the life of Sir Walter Scott, a Scottish poet. For years, Walter has been dreaming of making Mina Stuart his wife. Though he isn’t wealthy and can’t offer much more than his heart, he is sure that she will decide to be his. But there’s another man in Mina’s life, and she is torn between the two of them. Then Walter meets Charlotte, an independent and intelligent Frenchwoman, and he begins to wonder if his first love is really his true love. This is a chaste and sweet romance that explores the different kinds of love that we experience throughout our lives.
On shelves: January 3
Returning to the scene
Eden Collins fled her small town of Clear Springs, Montana and hoped to never return. Ten years later, she finds herself back where she grew up and investigating the mysterious murders of two young women, both branded with the mark of her mother’s cult. Though Eden is an elite FBI agent, Sheriff Zach Owens fears that she’s in more danger than she realizes. As they begin to work together on the case, he realizes that he is willing to do anything it takes to keep her safe. Katee Robert’s romantic thriller is sure to get your heart racing.
On shelves: January 24
Time with you is standing still
Beverly Jenkins’ second Old West novel takes place in Arizona, where Portia Carmichael manages her aunt and uncle’s hotel. Her childhood was rough, to say the least, and she never trusts any man enough to let him past her walls. Then Kent Randolph rides up and ignites something in Portia that she has never felt before. He knows about Portia’s past, and is willing to take things as slowly as she needs to. After spending years as a traveling ranch hand, Kent is ready to settle down and he can’t imagine spending his days with a woman other than Portia. He also sees that she has dreams bigger than her family’s hotel, and encourages her to start her own business. Little by little, Portia’s defenses begin to drop as she lets Kent into her heart. This is a warm and sensitive romance about two people who support each other in every way possible.
On shelves: January 31
A head for business and a bod for sin
After the death of her husband, Eugenia Snowe built a successful agency that provides governesses to the elite classes. She’s decided never to marry again because a marriage would require handing over the entire business to her husband. Still, she can’t help her growing feelings for Ward Reeve. After dismissing the first two governesses that Eugenia sends him, Ward decides that Eugenia herself is the only suitable replacement to care for his siblings, who moved in with him after the death of their mother. Ward believes Eugenia to be a common woman, not realizing that she is the daughter of a marquis, and uses this as a reason to keep his distance from her. This is a romantic and thrilling tale about pride, social classes, and love. Plus Eloisa James wrote this; is there really anything more you need to know?
On shelves: January 31
Deal with the devil
Devil in Winter is one of Lisa Kleypas’ most popular books, and many of her fans rank Evie and Sebastian as their favorite couple. Those readers will be ecstatic to learn that the hero of this new novel is Evie and Sebastian’s son, Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent. The novel begins with a delightful scene between Evie and Sebastian, before launching into the romance between Gabriel and Lady Pandora Ravenel. Pandora is a strong-willed, clever, and driven woman. She wants nothing to do with marriage, instead preferring to focus on building her own business. Still, Pandora is drawn to Gabriel. When she discovers that her entrepreneurial undertaking has put her in danger, she knows Gabriel is the only one who can protect her.
On shelves: February 21