Wendy McCurdy is an Executive Editor at Berkley Books. As you can see from her picture, in which she is holding several childhood favorites that she rescued from her parents’ house before they down-sized, she has been a romance reader pretty much since she learned how to read. So the fact that she is able to indulge her taste for romantic fiction in her profession is a dream come true.
Joanna Bourne’s books have been staff picks at least twice before. Pretty soon we are going to run out of titles. Joanna, if you are reading this, please write faster! But in the meantime, I’m highlighting THE FORBIDDEN ROSE, a beautifully written, completely captivating historical romance that accomplishes what I might have thought impossible: turning Doyle, the unforgettable and gruffly lovable British spy who is Grey’s partner in THE SPYMASTER’S LADY, into a romantic lead. And what a hero he turns out to be. THE FORBIDDEN ROSE is a tour de force of sheer romance.
Jo Goodman has been writing excellent western historical romances filled with intelligence and humor for many years now, and she just keeps getting better. Even her love scenes are filled with intelligence and humor. THE LAST RENEGADE is one of her finest, along with IN WANT OF A WIFE, which I also can’t resist mentioning.
A lovely debut novel about a divorced mother who flees to her sister’s California beach house for a two-week getaway and encounters romance in the form of a very hot celebrity athlete who is lying low after some mistakes in the past. This is charming and funny–a delicious read.
All of Madeline Hunter’s romances are wonderful, but this one is a particular favorite of mine. Watching the headstrong Emma Fairbourne take on the arrogant Earl of Southwaite is a pleasure. What I really appreciate here are the undercurrents, the way Madeline conveys what’s really going on—usually something pretty hilarious—without ever overtly stating it. The hot love scenes don’t hurt either.
Julie James has also been a staff pick in the past for JUST THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE. I’m choosing to highlight PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT, her second novel, and a real gem of romantic comedy. Our two main characters are lawyers who are battling it out to make partner at a Chicago law firm. How they try to get the better of each other results in some of the funniest scenes I’ve ever read—and also makes it that much more romantic when their dislike for each other begins to turn into something else.
What a wonderful piece of romantic western fiction this is. Kaki deservedly won kudos for this splendid novel that kick-started her career as one of the today’s finest western romance writers. It is one of my favorite books that I ever acquired, not only because it’s such a great read, but because I still remember how it felt to take the rubber band off that first manuscript—which actually came in through the mail—and start reading, and to know instantly that this was going to be a great read. (This may actually be my last acquisition that came in via mail rather than email!)
After the hundreds—probably thousands—of romances that I have edited, it is rare for me to be as moved by a romance as I was by this one. I’m not even going to try to articulate what it was about this novel that so got to me. All I will say is that those with a taste for an exquisitely rendered historical romance should not miss RAVISHING THE HEIRESS or any of Sherry Thomas’s novels.
A FINAL NOTE: It was very difficult to limit myself to seven romance picks. I have at least seven more that I want to add. But I will save those for next time.
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