Sarah Adams, The Cheat Sheet
Bree and Nathan have been close friends since high school, and they’ve maintained that friendship even though Bree is now a dance teacher struggling to pay rent, while Nathan is a professional football player. In fact, they’re madly in love with each other, but they’re each convinced the other sees them only as a friend. Then one night, Bree drunkenly reveals her feelings to a reporter, so they agree to a “fake” relationship for the publicity while trying to conceal their very real feelings. I like the friends-to-lovers trope in theory, but this book is classic example of why it doesn’t often work for me in practice. Bree and Nathan have been crazy about each other for years, yet they’ve never been honest with each other about how they feel. I just don’t buy that neither of them ever made a move! I would have liked it more if, say, Nathan really didn’t see Bree as a romantic option at first, but something happened to change his perspective. That said, this book is a cute, fun, not too racy read, and I did enjoy Nathan’s interactions with his friends on the football team, so I’d recommend this one for friends-to-lovers fans.
Louise Allen, The Duke’s Counterfeit Wife
Nicholas Terrell, the duke of Severton, and Sarah Parrish, the daughter of a disgraced shipping company owner, are traveling aboard the same passenger boat when they realize that its captain is up to no good. When the captain threatens to kill them, Nicholas reveals his ducal identity and claims that Sarah is his wife, persuading the captain to hold them for ransom instead. While Nick and Sarah endure their shared captivity and plot their escape, they also fall in love, but their very different social standings impede their romance. I quite enjoyed this historical romance; it’s not too long (less than 300 pages in my e-book version) and has an adventurous plot along with the romance. Nick is my kind of buttoned-up, scowly duke, and he’s well matched in the practical and intelligent Sarah. Based on the reviews I’ve seen, it looks like Allen’s books are hit or miss, but I’d certainly consider trying more by her!
Lauren Willig, The Betrayal of the Blood Lily
Penelope Staines has been packed off to India with her husband, Freddy, after their hasty and scandalous marriage. Freddy is to be a special envoy to the court of Hyderabad, which Penelope soon learns is a hotbed of intrigue. Meanwhile, Captain Alex Reid is trying to keep a lid on that intrigue, especially when he learns that a French spy might be undermining the uneasy alliance between Indians and British. As he and Penelope unwillingly team up to unmask the spy, they also fight a mutual attraction, knowing that Penelope’s marriage precludes a relationship between them. This is another enjoyable installment of the Pink Carnation series. Willig was smart to change up the setting and remind readers that the Britain-France conflict had global ramifications. I also really liked Alex, though Penelope’s self-destructive tendencies grated on me a bit. It was hard for me to root for their romance, too, given that it involved marital infidelity. Overall, a good read but not one of my favorites in the series.