Katherine Pelz photo

Katherine Pelz is an assistant editor at The Berkley Publishing Group, where she acquires romance, mystery and women’s fiction. During the rare moments when she’s not reading for business or pleasure, she’s in Brooklyn binge watching TV shows and hanging out with her cats.

 

 

 

 

 

spymaster

The Spymaster’s Lady, by Joanna Bourne

Joanna Bourne is, hands down, one of the best historical romance writers out there. Her writing, her characters, her settings, her plots…they are all THAT good. If you’re a historical romance reader and you’ve never read one of her Spymaster novels, you’re missing out on a master of the genre. Get your hands on a copy ASAP.

 

 

 

 

unwrapped

Unwrapped, by Maisey Yates

Small town contemporary romances are all the rage these days, and nobody writes one better than Maisey Yates. Her voice is fresh and ridiculously readable. UNWRAPPED is a holiday read that’s both hot and full of heart.

 

 

 

 

 

garden

The Garden of Letters, by Alyson Richman

Not strictly a romance, but a beautiful and moving historical novel that explores the pain and power of first love. It’s an experience that will stay with you long after you’ve read the final page.

 

 

 

 

 

exchange

Exchange of Fire, by P.A. DePaul

If you like some action with your romance, then you need to check out P.A. DePaul’s romantic suspense series. The heroine of Exchange of Fire is a sniper—I love a strong heroine (and a hero that can keep up with her!)

 

 

 

 

 

whenwemet

When We Met, by A. L. Jackson, Molly McAdams, Tiffany King and Christina Lee

I love reading New Adult romance, and WHEN WE MET contains stories from four of my top New Adult authors. You get four times the romance (and four times the hot heroes) with this one!

 

 

 

 

 

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isabel

Isabel Farhi is an editorial assistant at NAL/Ace/Roc, where she works on romance novels and science fiction & fantasy novels. When not at work, she watches anything with characters she can ship—and magic is an added bonus!

 

 

 

 

somegirlsbite

Some Girls Bite, by Chloe Neill

Paranormal equals vampires, and while I’m not usually a huge vampire fan I haven’t found better vampires than the Chicagoland vampires. Merit’s a grad student-turned-badass vampire, and she’s refreshingly human and fun to read. What’s really great about Chloe Neill is that her books just keep getting better as her world expands, and the twists and turns of her plots can last over books. But it always comes back to Merit and her vampire master/boss/lover, Ethan—who’s more than a little the attraction of these books as well!

 

 

 

writteninred

Written in Red, by Anne Bishop 

I was introduced to Anne Bishop years ago with her Black Jewels series, but this book plunged me back into her fan club, fast. As a history buff in my spare time, I loved how this book set up an alternate history and mythology where humans had always had to share their world with otherworldly creatures, and seeing how that changed our history—and even more, I loved seeing those otherworldly creatures interact with humans. Anne Bishops really captures the feeling that these beings are not human at all and they don’t think like us, and it makes for a fascinating, intense read.

 

 

Untitled-1On The Edge, by Ilona Andrews

Ilona Andrews is better known for her Kate Daniels series, but I really enjoyed this lesser known series. It’s nice to have a heroine who isn’t as blasé as some of the more jaded paranormal detectives—Rose is cynical, but she’s unsophisticated as well, and she’s learning things right along with the reader. None of which keeps her from being whip-smart, and more than a match for the powerful aristocrat who comes sniffing around. This world’s also a far cry from a lot of fantasy worlds—not only is it much more rural, set in the backwoods—but the magic system’s incredibly intriguing. It’s definitely world worth exploring! And the hero and heroine’s frustrated chemistry is really delightful.

 

 

heartofsteel

Heart of Steel, by Meljean Brooks 

The only thing better than pirates? Pirates in airships! The only thing better than pirates in airships? A female pirate captain who’s totally in charge and ruthless enough to stay there. And the only thing better than that? Watching her fall in love, and not get any weaker for it. I love subverting tropes, and the way this romance turns the pirate and his captor trope on its head makes it a great read. Their banter and constant one-upping contest just makes it better! With the adventure and swashbuckling as well as the romance to drive the story along, I couldn’t put this book down.

 

 

 

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leis

Prior to her career in publishing Leis Pederson was busy getting her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and selling t-shirts and cigars on the beach. After abandoning that glamorous lifestyle she began her life at Berkley as an editorial intern and worked her way up. Now Leis is a Senior Editor with The Berkley Publishing Group. She acquires commercial fiction, including romance (all subgenres), erotic romance, urban fantasy, women’s fiction, mysteries and new adult.

 

 

danceupontheair

Dance Upon the Air, by Nora Roberts

Love! A little bit of magic, a lot of romance and a great setting have me coming back to this book (and this series) again and again. I may have read it five or six times already but don’t tell anyone.

 

 

 

 

 

passion

Passion, by Lisa Valdez

This is an older book, but one that has always stood out for me. If you like historical romance with an extremely sexy edge, then this is the book for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

bitterspirit

Bitter Spirits, by Jenn Bennett

Hands down one of the best paranormal romance novels I have read in a long time, which is probably why I acquired it. I just love her voice and who doesn’t love a sexy bootlegger?

 

 

 

 

 

 

unforgiven

Unforgiven, by Anne Calhoun

Emotionally driven and atmospheric romance. I can’t get enough of this contemporary romance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

slavetosensation

Slave to Sensation, by Nalini Singh

I really have to recommend the whole series here. Nalini creates a world that just sucks you right in and I’m always holding my breath for the next one. Definitely a must read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mary_Stone
Mary Stone is the Assistant Marketing Manager for Putnam and Riverhead Books. Originally from Florida, she’s currently mourning the near-end of summer, because reading on a warm sunny beach is so much better than reading inside a snowed-in apartment.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

lastletter
I’m a huge Jojo Moyes fan: Me Before You had me in (admittedly!) ugly tears just a few pages in, The Girl You Left Behind completely transported me to World War 1 Paris – and made me never want to leave – and One Plus One had me thinking a long car ride with a handsome stranger might just be a great adventure. After reading those three, I knew I needed more, so this summer I picked up Jojo’s earlier novel, The Last Letter from Your Lover. Suddenly I was deep into another perfectly heartbreaking love story I just couldn’t quit – and the letters! Oh, just have tissues handy.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

overseas
Overseas was the first book I officially read for work when I started at Penguin three years ago, and one colleagues still remember my instant – and persistent – passion for! When the worlds of a modern day NYC city slicker and a oh-so handsome World War 1 captain collide with a dabble of time travel, the result is a guiltily perfect romantic ride that will have you swooning with every page.  Since then, Beatriz Williams has followed up with last summer’s New York Times bestseller, A Hundred Summers, and this year’s beach read favorite, The Secret life of Violet Grant both highly recommended as well.

 
 
 
 
 
 

savethedate
While this is by no means a romance novel – it is in fact, a wonderfully funny memoir – I think it’s a read all romance fans will adore. It brings to light what romance, love and happily ever after really means in today’s world – and how my fairy tale ending might just be very different than yours, and that’s OK.   
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

on the island
If you’re looking for a book that is just pure escapism, I invite you to take a trip On the Island in Tracey Garvis Graves’s bestselling novel. (Truth: I enjoyed this book so much that I dressed up as the lead female, Anna Emerson, for Penguin’s annual Halloween party; see photo above.) A shocking plane crash brings Anna Emerson and her student, T.J. Callahan, to a deserted island – and in to the arms of one another. The island heat isn’t even the hottest part of this book…  enjoy!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


TheLostWifeWhen writing novels, one never knows where inspiration will strike.   A few years ago, I was well into my research for a book on the ways that Jewish artists managed to create art during the Holocaust, when I overheard a story at the local hair salon about a couple who were separated at the beginning of the war with each of them being told that the other had perished. Sixty years later, they miraculously were reunited at the wedding of their respective grandchildren.  When I overheard that story, I felt like I had been struck by lightning.  My mind was filled with so many questions: why had this couple each believed the other had died? What was their initial love story? What were their second love stories that produced the children who were now the parents of the grandchildren getting married?  And most importantly, how did they each survive World War II?

This story would end up being the bookends for my novel The Lost Wife, into which I invented the lovers’ histories both before and after their separation.

I wanted to draw in my readers by evoking the same questions that I had after initially hearing that story.  I wanted those questions to propel them into the same journey I too would undertake while crafting the body of the novel.

TheGardenofLettersThe inspiration for my new novel The Garden of Letters, also began after hearing a story that ignited my curiosity.  While at a dinner party, a friend shared with me the details about how her father had escaped from Hungry through Italy during WWII with forged papers that their family had spent their entire life savings on.  When my friend’s father arrived in Portofino, German guards were scrutinizing everyone’s papers so carefully that he was sure he was going to be arrested.

Suddenly, out from the crowd, a big barrel-chested Italian man cried: “Cousin, cousin, I’ve been waiting for you all week.  Thank heaven’s you’ve come!”

He was able to whisk my friend’s father away and take him back to his home on the cliffs of Portofino.

When my friend’s father asked this man why he had saved him, for clearly he wasn’t his cousin, the man replied:  “I try to come to the port every month.  I try to save the person who looks the most afraid.”

When I heard that story I immediately thought it would make an amazing beginning to a novel.  I imagined the two people whose lives intersect at this occupied Italian port.    One fleeing and in need of shelter.  The other a person who sees that fear and sets upon helping him.   “The Garden of Letters” opens with my young heroine being saved from the Germans at the Portofino port by a doctor.

As in all my novels, I wanted my main character to possess a creative gift.  With The Lost Wife, I explored how art could be used as a form of Resistance against the Nazis.  In The Garden of Letters, I explore how music could be used.

My main character Elodie, is a young cellist who sends coded messages for the Italian Resistance through her performances And the book explores the many creative ways essential information was transmitted during the war.

When I traveled to Italy to meet with partisans and female messengers who were involved in the Resistance, I was introduced to a person who shared with me another unusual way information was sent during the war.  Giovanni Pellizzato, whose grandfather was both a bookseller and an active member of the Italian Resistance, described how codes were cleverly hidden throughout the pages of a book, and how within the back shelves of his father’s bookstore many of the books had their paper carved out to create a space where pistols were stored inside.  This information was so intriguing to me, it inspired the character of the bookseller, Luca, in The Garden of Letters.

As storytellers, we’re responsible for crafting narratives that bring our readers into a world that transport and hopefully inform.  As writers, however, we must also be open to all the stories that surround us, for everyone has a unique history to share.



Jessica Brock pic

Jessica works with romance titles from Berkley and NAL and is also a self-proclaimed YA enthusiast. She lives in Washington Heights and is a huge fan of Supernatural, all things Joss Whedon, and live music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

virginVirgin, by Radhika Sanghani

OMG EVERYONE HAS TO READ VIRGIN BY RADHIKA SANGHANI RIGHT NOW. Are you convinced? Not yet? Well how about I tell you that this book had me giggling like an idiot on the subway. Seriously, I haven’t laughed so hard at a book in years and it wasn’t just because it was funny. It’s incredibly poignant, especially to this generation of females. What we go through growing up, trying to understand boys, being afraid to ask real questions and this whole myriad of things that you might discuss with your closest friends is now written, and fantastically so, in this book.

I challenge any woman who reads this NOT to find at least one part of Ellie’s story that you don’t completely relate to, because I believe it is truly impossible.

 

enemyMy Beautiful Enemy, by Sherry Thomas

I’m still new to reading historical romances but MY BEAUTIFUL ENEMY by Sherry Thomas is just a wonderful addition to this genre. Not only does Thomas write intelligent heroines, but this story has off-the-charts chemistry and an action-packed mystery to boot. There’s something to be said for the sexual tension in historicals because things can be a little more buttoned up, but Thomas balances heat with emotion that can’t be missed.

 

 

 

 

boundtodangerBound to Danger, by Katie Reus

So I love action movies. Like really and truly thoroughly enjoy them. So when that gets combined with a steamy romance plot? Perfection! And so is BOUND TO DANGER by Katie Reus. Being on the run from terrorists and a person of interest to the NSA are some seriously high stakes and it’s those kinds of situations that rev up emotions to warp speed. It can’t be helped and I can’t help but love it. What’s different about this series so far is that our heroes and heroines have a past with each other which makes their connection so much more believable and for me, more enjoyable.

 

 

 

guardedGuarded, by Mary Behre

GUARDED by Mary Behre is such a unique paranormal romance. I fell in love with this world in the first novel, Spirited, last spring and loved going back. This time, the “crift” is Shelley’s, and her curse/gift is the ability to communicate with animals. ← SOLD. When she realizes animals are being kidnapped from her local zoo, she contacts an old flame who not only knows her secret, but also happens to be a detective. Fun, fast-paced, plus animals!

 

 

 

 

unbrokenUnbroken, by Maisey Yates

Maisey Yates has grown a stellar reputation for writing the perfect balance of humor, emotion, and sexual chemistry. In UNBROKEN two of my all-time favorite romance tropes are used: pretend relationship that turns very real and the friends-to-lovers. Cade is Amber’s best friend that always seems to be rescuing her (which she hates) and he does it again this time by pretending to be her live-in boyfriend with plans to fix up her grandfather’s failing ranch. But they have to keep the charade going because of course Amber’s grandfather loves the idea of them together. It’s just that kind of situation that gives you a warm fuzzy feeling as you watch two people realize their true feelings for each other.

 

 

takeoverTakeover, by Anna Zabo

Last, but not least at all, is TAKEOVER by Anna Zabo. First, two hot dudes in hot suits, with super-hot feelings. And secondly… wait, is there supposed to be more? Well if you need more than those reasons to check out this M/M romance, then how about because it’s not only damn sexy (yes lady readers, don’t let the slash scare you!) but the emotions that Michael and Sam have to deal while in an office setting, not to mention Sam is Michael’s boss, give this story a dose of reality. Also, did I mention 2 HOT GUYS IN SUITS?

 

 

 

Those are my August romance recs for you, so happy reading!

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JessicaselfieWhen I was a little girl, I used to watch West Side Story over and over. I had a strong sense of justice, and loved getting swept up in Maria and Tony’s rebellious romance, not to mention worked up over their communities’ totally lame and unfair objections to it. Later, as a teen, I was consistently attracted to boys for whom my parents harbored built-in disapproval: usually boys in bands, and boys who had been expelled from one or more high schools. Most nights were filled with hushed, flirtatious phone calls followed by blood-vessel bursting screaming matches with my mom, who just didn’t understand. It wasn’t until I got a little older that I realized parents’ disapproval of their teenage daughters’ romantic choices isn’t always about blind prejudice. More often then we’d like to think, it’s about the fact that teenage love is intense, and it tends not to end well.

Like No Other by Una LaMarche is a forbidden love story not unlike Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park, or West Side Story, for that matter: It begins when Devorah, a Hasidic Jewish girl, meets Jaxon, a second generation Caribbean-American boy, when the two are stuck in an elevator during a hurricane power outage. Now if you don’t know about the Hasidic faith, it’s an incredibly closed community and it is beyond taboo for an unmarried Hasidic girl to be alone with any boys, much less a boy outside her faith and race. Despite the fact that they wouldn’t speak to each other under normal circumstances, Devorah and Jaxon make an undeniable connection during their time in that elevator that changes their lives forever–embarking on a forbidden friendship that will soon blossom into first love, risking everything–family, faith, and friends–to be together.

Yes, this book has all the swoon-worthy, drama-filled, heart-pounding romance I couldn’t get enough of growing up, but it also has perspective. It shows the powers and the pitfalls of family, tradition and faith. It shows the highs and lows of first love. But most remarkably, it cracks open a door of possibility beyond first love (I mean, it’s called first love for a reason), reminding readers that the future is out there, it’s longer than you think, and it’s all yours.

Sometimes I look back on my teen love interests and wonder if my parents were right. They were right to worry about my heart. All good parents should. They were wrong to think they could stop it from loving boys in bands. (I’m marrying one next month.) First love is not the be-all-end-all that it feels like in the moment, but it is the start of something exquisite that never really does go away.

Thank you, Una LaMarche, for capturing this and reminding me.

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