Stella Riley, The Parfit Knight
When an attack by highwaymen and a heavy snowfall force the Marquis of Amberley to take refuge in a stranger’s home, he doesn’t expect to fall in love, but the beautiful, intelligent Rosalind Vernon captures his heart almost immediately. Because she is blind, Rosalind hasn’t had a Season or met any gentlemen apart from her nearest neighbors. So Amberley encourages her to go to London, hoping to woo her once she’s mixed a little more with the world. But their romance is threatened by misunderstandings, jealous rivals, and a tragedy from the past. If you’ve read everything by Georgette Heyer and are looking for a read-alike, I think Stella Riley might fit the bill! Riley isn’t quite as witty, but the character types and dialogue are very Heyeresque. I tend to prefer romances where the characters take a little longer to fall in love — it’s pretty instantaneous for both Amberley and Rosalind here — but otherwise I really liked this one and can’t wait to continue with the series!
Chloe Neill, A Swift and Savage Tide
In this alternate 19th-century world, the Napoleon equivalent has escaped from exile and is bent on conquering Europe through the forbidden use of magic. So Captain Kit Brightling and her crew are once again called upon to stop him — along with infuriatingly attractive soldier Rian Grant. When they encounter an enemy who can manipulate magic in new, powerful, and terrifying ways, Kit realizes she may have to test the limits of her own magical Alignment as well. I enjoyed the first Kit Brightling book quite a bit, and this one is more of the same. I think the series is trying really hard for a “found family” element with Kit’s crew, but I must say I’m not really feeling it; the secondary characters still don’t feel like they have very distinct personalities. I do, however, enjoy the seafaring adventure and the romance, which definitely progresses in this book. I hope a third installment is in the works, because there’s a lot more to explore in this world!
Charlie N. Holmberg, Keeper of Enchanted Rooms
When Merritt Fernsby unexpectedly inherits a house on an isolated island in the Narragansett Bay, he’s delighted — until he realizes that the house is enchanted and won’t let him leave. Luckily, Hulda Larkin is on the case: She belongs to an agency that cares for bespelled houses and knows how to deal with walls that move, libraries that toss books around, bloodred paint that drips from the ceiling and so on. As Hulda helps Merritt adjust to his new home, their relationship deepens, but everything is threatened when a powerful wizard with a grudge against Hulda sets his sights on Merritt’s home. I enjoyed this book, which is sort of a cozy take on the haunted house genre. Both Merritt and Hulda are likable, interesting characters, and I enjoyed watching their relationship grow. But I found the chapters from the villain’s POV distracting and not terribly necessary to the story. Overall, though, I did like this one and plan to seek out the sequel.