First Look: Roshani Chokshi’s A Crown of Wishes

Roshani Chokshi
A Crown of Wishes
St. Martin’s Griffin / March 28, 2017/
$18.99 print, $9.99 digital

You don’t need to have read Roshani Chokshi’s lyrical debut, The Star-Touched Queen, to read its sequel, A Crown of Wishes, but you’ll probably kick yourself if you don’t ― because it’s a beautiful introduction to the world that continues to grow in this, her second fantasy release. Steeped and rooted in Hindu mythology, A Crown of Wishes follows warrior princess Gauri and tactician prince Vikramaditya as they struggle to prove themselves and take back their respective kingdoms ― by competing in a tournament where the grand prize is a wish granted.

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First Look: Tiffany Reisz’s The Night Mark

Tiffany Reisz
The Night Mark
Harlequin MIRA / March 28, 2017 /
$15.99 print, $7.99 digital

She has nothing to live for in the present, but finds there’s something worth dying for in the past…

Tiffany Reisz transitions to women’s fiction tinged with magical realism in her newest release, The Night Mark, while still retaining everything readers love about her erotic fiction — banter, beautiful prose and deep, emotional relationships. (And sex. Of course, there is sex.)

An aching meditation on grief and loss, The Night Mark uses a lighthouse as both a touchstone and a catalyst when deeply unhappy Faye Barlow finds herself at an emotional crossroads. Trapped by a marriage to her dead husband’s best friend, mired in the memories of a blazing first love, she obtains a quickie divorce and flees to Beaufort, South Carolina to restart her career as a photographer. Bride Island — which Reisz fans will recognize from The Bourbon Thief, immediately fascinates her. As she digs into the history of the island and its decaying but dazzling lighthouse, she’s gut-punched by an old photograph. Carrick Morgan, a lighthouse keeper from the 1920s, looks exactly like her first husband, charming baseball player Will Fielding.

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First Look: Lisa Marie Perry’s Sin For Me

Lisa Marie Perry
Sin For Me
Loveswept / February 21, 2017 /
$2.99 digital

If you love FOX’s sudsy Empire, then Lisa Marie Perry’s sizzling Sin For Me is a must-read! The twisted, drama-soaked first book in the Devil’s Music duology is set amidst the Atlanta music scene, at a record label that’s growing new talent and age-old feuds. Dangerous wild-child Delilah Bishop, voted out of her family’s company by her three best friends, Joshua Drake, Emma Toledo and Chelsea Coin, wants back in at any cost. She’ll burn things down (literally), wreck marriages — and even throw her own brother, songwriter Dante Bishop, under the bus to get what she wants. But what Delilah doesn’t realize is that Devil’s Music holds its own allure for Dante — in the form of chief operating officer Chelsea, the woman who betrayed him and still enthralls him.

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The Power of Fictional Female Friendships

Book boyfriends are great and all, but it’s galpals who’ll help you kill three bottles of wine and then bury some bodies! So move over, Valentine’s Day: Let’s pull a Leslie Knope and talk Galentine’s Day, celebrating some of fiction’s fun female friendships!

Too often in romance ― and, really, fiction in general ― we see the “not like other girls” trope, where the heroine is a special sparkly unicorn, full of virtue and made of sugar cookie batter, and all other women are sluts and bitches. Frankly, that’s sexist, regressive, awful and not all that entertaining. That’s why, as a reader, I find myself drawn to series where women have each other’s backs no matter what. Take Lisa Kleypas’ Wallflower series. It’s probably the first time, at least in historical romance, that I can recall encountering a group of women who stuck together. Before that, I kept stumbling upon these poor loner heroines who’d end up running around a dreary estate with an alpha hero and his nefarious staff and relatives ― and nary a friend to go, “Oh, girl, no. GTFO!” That’s not the case with Annabelle, Lillian, Evie and Daisy. Sure, they’re drawn together by their common goal of getting off the wall and landing a husband, but from Secrets of a Summer Night all the way to Scandal in Spring, you know that they’d cut someone for messing with one of them! And I mean literally. Not a cut direct.

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Why Good Behavior is Great Dark Romance

-TNT

Skye Warren, Annika Martin, Molly O’Keefe…TNT?! It sounds strange to put a cable network on a list of effective, engaging, go-to dark romance authors, but here you have it — because TNT’s Good Behavior, based on novellas by Blake Crouch, absolutely fits the bill! Letty Raines (Michelle Dockery) is a con artist, meth addict and alcoholic who lost custody of her son. Javier (Juan Diego Botto) is a controlling, meticulous hit man with a face like an angel’s. And they can’t live without each other. From the less-than-rosy protagonists to the shades of dominance and submission, Good Behavior is a good bet for anyone who likes hard-luck plots and hotter-than-hot pairings.

In the first episode alone, it’s clear that wild-child Letty needs rules — that she is completely incapable of impulse control. She can’t hold down a steady job, she’s an expert at the five-finger discount…and she winds up hearing a contract killer, Javier, setting up a hit and can’t resist getting involved. Long story short, Letty’s good intentions don’t quite translate into sensible actions — and that’s something that carries through the series and cements why Javier becomes such an important figure in her life and her heart. Because he cannot, and will not, let her spiral out.

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Rogue One’s Chirrut and Baze: A Romantic Force to Be Reckoned With

This post contains spoilers for Rogue One. Proceed with caution!

Are they, or aren’t they? A lot has already been written about whether Rogue One’s Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus qualify as the Star Wars universe’s first official gay couple. Given that heterosexual romance didn’t get much traction in the film either, who’s to say, right? But what I know for damn sure is that Chirrut and Baze are love ― great, sweeping, epic, love that is the both the stuff of romance novels and that of your parents bickering at each other across the dinner table.

It’s a dynamic we’ve seen already in the Star Wars franchise ― from Han Solo and Princess Leia to C-3PO and R2-D2 (that’s a ‘shipper manifesto for another time). It’s a partnership that transcends everything else, the constant that gets you through in the trenches. And Donnie Yen’s Force-devout, Chirrut and Jiang Wen’s gruff mercenary Baze are already a rock-solid team when viewers meet them on the desert planet of Jedha. They’re the last remnants of the Guardians of the Whills ― followers of the Force but not actual Jedis. Chirrut is still a believer, and Baze has become a cynic, more trusting of his gun than what Han Solo would call “simple tricks and nonsense.” But our very first glimpse of him is as Chirrut’s backup, behind him, protective and suspicious when heroine Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) approaches them. Chirrut later notes that Baze used to be the most devoted Guardian of them all…and it’s clear that, now, he’s a devoted Guardian to just one person.

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First Look: Megan Hart’s Hold Me Close

Megan Hart
Hold Me Close
Harlequin Mira / November 24, 2015
$15.99 print / $8.99 digital

Apart, they are broken, but together, they are whole 

Effie and Heath are famous. Not for anything they did, but for what happened to them as teenagers. Abducted and abused by the same man, they turned to each other for comfort until they were finally able to make their escape.

Now adults, their relationship is fraught with guilt and despair. Whether fighting or making love, their passion is strong enough to destroy them both—and Effie’s not about to let that happen. She knows it’s time for her to have a “normal” relationship, and Heath is nothing but a constant reminder of the dark past they share. Heath, on the other hand, knows Effie is the only woman he can ever love. She may want to forget what happened, but he’s convinced that they must face their past together in order to move forward. So while Effie continues to bring new men into her life, Heath becomes obsessed with proving he’s the one she needs.

Then a new crisis arises and Effie begins to lose every scrap of self-control she ever had. As she struggles against her desire to return to the one man who understands her, she discovers that sometimes the only safety you find is with the person who is the most dangerous for you.

Hold Me Close is in turns a romance and a tragedy, gut-wrenching and powerful — and one of Megan Hart’s strongest novels since 2013’s Tear You Apart. Through Effie and Heath’s past and present, Hart explores what it means to be “normal” and “healthy” and to truly move on from the devastating events we often think define us.

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