Tag Archives: Romance Garden

The Romance Garden

A Gentleman Reading In A Garden by Carl Spitzweg

It may not be gardening weather quite yet, dear readers, but it is time for a visit to our romance garden (because every mind needs a little dirt in which to grow).  To celebrate the approach of March, our Library’s romance readers bring you some of their top selections to help you find a new literary love–or to begin exploring the genre for the very first time!  Feel free to drop by the Library to get more suggestions on romance novels–or any other types of novels–soon!

Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren

The writing duo that is Christina Lauren has certainly cornered the market on angsty/adorable romances, and this stand-alone tale about careers and quarter-life crises is yet another feather in their already-well-decorated hat.

When Carter and Evie meet at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, it’s one of those things that could either go colossally badly…or shockingly well.  Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire. But when their two agencies merge–causing the pair to vie for the same position–all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals–so why can’t they act like it? Can Carter stop trying to please everyone and see how their mutual boss is really playing the game? Can Evie put aside her competitive nature long enough to figure out what she really wants in life? Can their actor clients just be something close to human?

I loved that this book allowed both Carter and Evie to be silly, smart, career-driven, and in love without judgement.  Though it takes a while for them to wake up and realize what they really want and need out of life, their chemistry together is so pitch-perfect that it’s well worth the wait to see them find their happy ending!

The Rogue is Back in Town by Anna Bennett

After one scandal too many, Lord Samuel Travis finds himself in a desperate situation when his marquess brother kicks him out of the house with nothing but the clothes on his back. In order to get back in his brother’s good graces, Sam must reclaim a house that is currently occupied by Miss Juliette Lacey and her scientifically brilliant but mentally scattered elderly uncle. What seems like an easy assignment proves impossible when Sam meets extreme resistance from Julie who wants to protect both her uncle and her family’s home.

With nowhere else to go, Sam takes up residence in the house and, while there, finds himself coming to care both for Julie and her uncle. In the meantime, Sam’s brother Nigel, the marquess, has other ideas about Julie’s future, and she finds herself in a tug of war between the brother who can amply provide for her but only wants her in his bed, and the brother who has no means to provide for himself let alone a wife but offers his heart.

As Julie comes to realize that she wants a more fulfilling life than a loveless marriage to a titled gentleman, Sam determines to make more of himself and seeks opportunities to make himself worthy of the woman he loves. A sweet romance complete with witty dialogue and a charming nutty professor with a romantic heart, “The Rogue is Back in Town” is a perfect Sunday afternoon read.

The Romance Garden!

It’s February, dear readers, and that means that we’re most likely going to be talking about romances a lot.  So what better way to start things off than a wander through our Romance Garden (because every mind needs a little dirt in which to grow).  Here, our genre aficionados share with you their favorite recent reads across the romance genre.  We hope you find something here that inspires you to try a new romance…or try the genre for the very first time?  Either way, we hope you enjoy!

Reading in the Garden. Susan Ricker Knox


Renegade Cowboy by Sara Richardson: I am not really a fan of cowboy romances, but this book, the third installment of Sara Richardson’s Rocky Mountain Riders trilogy was a rare, and really important exception.  The whole trilogy is pretty terrific, but you don’t need to have read through the whole story to fully appreciate this story.  Cassidy Greer has the world on her shoulders.  She lost her brother in a bull-riding accident several years ago.  As a result, she’s studying to be a nurse, and desperately trying to help and protect her mother, who is spiraling into alcoholic depression and dementia as a result of her grief.  So she has no time at all for her childhood crush (and her deceased brother’s best friend), Levi Cortez.  A top-ranked bull-rider, Levi has spent years hiding from the mistakes in his past, and his shame at not being there for the Greers.  Seeing Cassidy again is both a reckoning and, Levi realizes, a second chance.  But can he convince Cassidy to take a chance on him again?

There are a lot of aspects of this book that are downplayed for the sake of brevity, especially Cassidy’s mother’s mental and physical health conditions.  But having said that, the emotions in this story feel very real, and Richardson doesn’t give either her hero or her heroine and easy way out of their ingrained fears, or their awkward feelings.  This is a book about apologies and redemption and self-acceptance that was moving an insightful and honest in a way that I haven’t encountered much recently.  Even readers who aren’t a fan of ten-gallon hats or bull rings are going to find a lot to enjoy in this book–and the series, too!


Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet: The third book in Bouchet’s Kingmaker Chronicles is every bit as good as the first two volumes and a worthy end to the trilogy. In book three, as they rally and train an army to take the final step in uniting the Kingdom of Thalyria, we find Cat and Griffin married and awaiting the arrival of their first child. In order to conquer the final realm, Fisa, Cat will be forced to confront the self-serving and ruthless mother who subjected her to years of terror and abuse as a child.

Cat is a child of the Gods and as such her path is often influenced by powers greater than herself. In addition, she has been given great power of her own, but has never been able to successfully channel those powers at will. As much as Heart on Fire focuses on the romantic relationship of Cat and Griffin, the book is even more powerfully a romance about falling in love with yourself. Cat realizes that unless she learns to believe in herself and find herself worthy of the life and family she loves, she will never be able to master her magic and stand in her own power. Along the way, Cat receives steady encouragement, love and support from Griffin, and when she reaches the place she needs to be in order to face her mother and Fisa, she and Griffin become a confident and powerful team who will rule their people with strength and love.

Throughout this series, Cat’s growth as a character is dramatic, and it’s enormously fulfilling to see her step fully into her destined role as Queen of Thalyria. Along the way, there is of course plenty of danger, adventure, magic and romance. More than once we see Cat and Griffin torn apart with seemingly little hope of coming together again, and more than once we’re rewarded with heartbreaking and tender scenes as they are reunited. But most powerful of all, is watching Cat earn her wings as she embraces all of the good and bad parts of herself, and learns to let her light shine not just for herself and her family but for her kingdom.

Until next month, dear readers, we wish you plenty of literary romance to savor!

The Romance Garden

Happy New Year, readers, and welcome to our first Romance Garden post of 2018!

John White Alexander, Repose, 1895

We sincerely hope your new year is full of love, intrigue, and happily-ever-afters, and, to that end, we bring your our genre experts’ favorite reads from the past month.  We hope they get your year started off on the right foot, and give you the chance to explore a new author, a new trope, or a whole new genre!

Bridget: Stealing Mr. Right by Tamara Morgan

Every time I read a description of Tamara Morgan’s romances, my initial reaction is “that…that can’t work!”.  And every single time, she proves me wrong.  Without fail, her romances are smart, funny, insightful, and genuinely touching in a way I never expected, and thoroughly enjoyed.

This first in her new Penelope Blue series features a world-renowned (or most-wanted) jewel thief, Penelope Blue, and her husband, a dedicated and extraordinarily resourceful FBI agent.  Penelope got involved with Grant Emerson simply so that she could keep her enemies close, and make sure he wouldn’t get too close to her and her fellow thieves.  But the longer she spent with the ultra-handsome, whip-smart agent, the more she finds herself falling for him.  And that will never do…he’s supposed to be her worst enemy, right?  Things only get worse when Penelope embarks on a new jewel heist…and finds out that her husband has been assigned to track her down.

I normally loathe stories where the protagonists keep secrets from each other.  In this case, however, Morgan somehow manages to make it work.  Her characters are wonderfully vibrant and driven, ensuring that readers are somehow rooting for both of them, even though it seems there is no way for them to win without losing everything.  And, despite all the odds, this is a book with an absolute, total, complete winner of an ending that had me cheering for this most unlikely of couples.  Readers looking for a snarky, fast-paced, steamy romance need look no further than this book, and the series to follow!

Kelley: Wilde in Love by Eloisa James

Readers of historical romance know that you can almost never go wrong with a title by Eloisa James. High quality writing, nods to Shakespeare, humor, and just plain good stories are hallmarks of her work, and her latest book, Wilde in Love, doesn’t disappoint.

Lord Alaric Wilde is an adventurer just arrived home to England after years of traveling the world. While away, the books he wrote about his adventures became London’s best sellers, so unbeknownst to Alaric many admirers eagerly await the return of the highly eligible son of the Duke of Lindow. It seems every young woman in London has read his books and posted his picture on their bedroom walls; there is even a long running play (written by an anonymous playwright) about his life called, of course, Wilde in Love.

Appalled by his newfound celebrity, Alaric finds himself drawn to the only woman in England who hasn’t read of his adventures, Miss Willa Ffynche. Of course, Willa is a private woman who prefers a suitor with far less notoriety. Unlike most women in Alaric’s circle, Willa is well-read and easily holds her own in conversations of business and the world. She fascinates him and, much as Willa hates to admit it, the feeling is mutual.

Watching the couple come together, surrounded by an enjoyable cast of friends and Wilde family members, is fun as well as heartwarming. Readers should look forward to the upcoming stories of The Wildes of Lindow Castle.

The Romance Garden!

John Singer Sargent, In a Garden: Corfu, 1909

We’re getting a jump on the new month today with a stroll through our genre experts’ favorite reads of the month.  The holiday period is certainly a stressful one for many, so be sure to take some time to relax with a good book now and then.  The act of reading has been shown to lower blood pressure, ease stress, and makes you better at empathy, but romance novels have been shown to be specifically useful to our health by activating the part of our brains that feeds on interpersonal interactions.  Which isn’t terribly surprising when you think about it, but it is an excellent excuse to check out and read a good romance novel if I ever heard one.  Here are some of the titles we enjoyed this month!


BridgetThe Bride Who Got Lucky by Janna MacGregor

I owe Janna MacGregor a tremendous debt of gratitude for breaking my romantic reading slump, so I can only hope it might do the same for other readers.  Though this is the second book in her Cavensham heiresses series, it is very easily read on it’s own (though the first book, The Bad Luck Bride is also charming).

The son of a cold-hearted duke, and a confirmed introvert, Nicholas St. Mauer has none of the skills, the temperament, or the desire to be involved in society, or find a bride. But despite himself, he always keeps a watchful eye on Lady Emma Cavensham.  Her energy and determination make her the most unsuitable woman for Nick–but he can’t seem to keep away from her.  And a good thing, too, because Emma is on a dangerous mission to prove her deceased friend’s husband was responsible for her death before he lures another innocent woman into a brutal marriage.  But a single compromising moment upends all her well-laid plans–and makes her relationship with Nick a much more formal arrangement than either every imagined.

I loved the quirkiness of MacGregor’s characters. Neither Nick nor Emma fit into the moulds we’ve come to expect from historical romances, but they work so well together than it’s a treat to watch them.  I also adored the honesty between them about matters big and small.  There is something wonderfully refreshing about characters who trust each other enough to be with each other, and admit their insecurities and emotional confusion.  The main plot of this book was interesting, but I would have been happy to read another 100 pages of nothing but Emma and Nick talking together.  I cannot wait to read more of MacGregor’s work after this impressive novel!

Kelley: A Daring Arrangement by Joanna Shupe

There is much to love about A Daring Arrangement,  the first book in Joanna Shupe’s “The Four Hundred Series.” Set in New York City’s Gilded Age, the setting of Honora and Julius’ story immediately offers readers something unique in historical romance. The opulent lifestyle celebrated by wealthy Americans at that time is introduced to us through Julius Hatcher, one of the wealthiest investors in the city, who just so happens to have built himself a castle for a home, and lives a life so outrageously extravagant he throws himself a birthday party at one of New York’s finest restaurants where are guests attend the entirety of the event on horseback.

Enter Lady Honora Parker, just arrived in New York after being exiled from London by her powerful father who found her with her artist boyfriend. Knowing that only a scandal will convince her father to call her back to London and to the artist she loves, Honora convinces Julius to pose as her fiance, knowing her proper English father will be appalled. Honora is in love with another, and Julius has no intention of ever marrying, so neither is prepared for the feelings that develop between them.

What I love the most about this book is that when their feelings begin to change, Julius and Honora are honest with each other throughout the process. Things aren’t simple, but there are no secrets or intrigue, just two people who are perfectly matched and need to find their way to being together. To top it off the storytelling is excellent, making this book difficult to put down. A Daring Arrangement is easily the best romance I’ve read in quite awhile. I highly recommend that you check it out.

Until next month, dear readers, we wish you happy reading!

The Romance Garden

Girl in Green by Sara Hayden

The weather has turned at last, dear readers, and, rather suddenly, it is not longer garden time.  But that means it’s the perfect time to snuggle up with a good book!  Thankfully, here in our romance garden, there is always sunshine, and always plenty of books to help you through those lengthening winter evenings.  Here are just a few from our genre experts for this month!


Bridget: London’s Perfect Scoundrel by Suzanne Enoch

I’ve been in a bit disillusioned by the romance genre of late, so I went back to an oldie by goodie for this month.  This was one of the first romance novels, and still remains a favorite of mine.  Though it’s the second in Enoch’s Lessons in Love series, new readers won’t have any trouble getting into this story.

the Marquis of St. Aubyn’s may be referred to as “Saint”, but all of London society knows that him as a dangerous–if alluring scoundrel.  Evelyn Ruddick would normally have nothing to do with him, but St. Aubyn is the head of the board of trustees for the Heart of Hope Orphanage, and she will do anything to get them the help and support that they need, even if it means forming a partnership with this rakehell.  But when their working relationship takes a turn for the scandalous, Evie and Saint are both forced to reconsider who they really are, what they really want…and how many rules they are willing to break to make their hearts happy.

First and foremost, I loved the chemistry between these protagonists.  Saint may be selfish and spoiled, but he is also quite smart, and therefore has the capacity to recognize and respect Evelyn’s intelligence and determination.  He may enjoy making her blush, but he’s not cruel, and he’s honest, which is my favorite part of a hero.  For her part, Evie is no simpering miss–she is strong and determined and doesn’t back down.  The result is a book full of snappy, witty banter that doesn’t do much to hide the growing respect and devotion these two characters feel for each other, both in spite of, and because of, their differences.  It was a treat to see how well this story has aged, and I hope it can bring a smile to other readers, as well!

Note: The cover image on the Boston Public Library’s site is incorrect for this listing. The book is indeed by Suzanne Enoch.  And is very good!

August Macke “Blue Girl Reading”, 1912


Kelley: The Scot Beds His Wife by Kerrigan Byrne

When an American gunslinger finds herself pitted against a notorious Scottish earl, things are bound to get interesting, and that’s just what happens in Kerrigan Byrne’s latest Victorian Rebels book, The Scot Beds His Wife.

Samantha (“Sam”) Masters, former member of an American family of train robbers, comes to the Highlands posing as a Scottish heiress in order to hide from dangerous associations from her past in the American West. Upon arrival she immediately meets Gavin St. James, Earl of Thorne, her new neighbor, and the person intent on purchasing her property which has been unoccupied for years. When Gavin finds Sam unwilling to sell, the two quickly become adversaries, but the arguments and banter that ensue lead them to a reluctant respect and powerful physical attraction to one another. When Sam finds herself in danger, she and Gavin marry for mutual convenience, her for protection and him for the ownership of the land he believes to be hers, but what they don’t expect is to fall in love. Gavin’s devotion to his family and tenderness with his wife are not at all what Sam expected, and as for Sam, Gavin is deeply affected by her unique blend of strength and vulnerability.

This is one of my favorite types of romance, one with well-developed characters all around, including many secondary characters who would be welcome additions to upcoming books in the series. It’s also both fiery and fun, never taking itself too seriously, but still managing to pack in plenty of danger and passion to make for a good story. For those who, like me, didn’t love The Highwayman, the first book in this series, I encourage you to give Kerrigan Byrne a second chance. The Scot Beds His Wife was a fun read, and I look forward to exploring some of the Victorian Rebels books that I missed between this one and the first.

Until next month, beloved patrons!

The Romance Garden!

And after a downright autumnal week, dear readers, it seems that summer has decided to come back for a visit–so it’s a perfect day to return to our Romance Garden, where our genre experts bring you some of their favorite reads from the past month!

Lady Reading in the Garden (1894). Niels Frederik Schiøttz-Jensen


Bridget: Lord of Lies by Amy Sandas

This is the third installment in Amy Sandas’ Fallen Ladies series, but that will have no effect at all on your ability to enjoy this–though, if you’re anything like me, it will definitely make you want to track down the others in the series to read them, too!

Portia Chadwick had once resigned herself to a life of quiet (and boring) decorum–until the day her sister is abducted by a moneylender.  Desperate, Portia tracks down Nightshade, a man who knows England’s darkest shadows, to help her find him.  Dell Turner grew up in the bleakest of circumstances, and he’s never shaken the dirt of the gutter off his shoes–or the chip off his shoulder.  He’s perfectly willing to help the young lady who comes begging for help finding his sister, but he never anticipates that she’ll want to be involved in the case…or that he’ll be so eager to keep her by his side.  But when their partnership is dissolved, what hope will Dell have that Portia will want any more to do with him?

I’m really tired of the “delicate miss decides to have an adventure” story, but Portia’s honesty, and her genuine interest in learning made her feel like a different kind of heroine.  I also really appreciated the fact that she and Dell could be upfront and honest with each other during their partnership–and learned how to transfer that honesty into their real life relationship, too.  Though some of the situations here were a little outlandish, the heart of this story is a really fantastic, visceral, pulse-pounding and heart-warming romance that made me an instant fan of this series.

Kelley: The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

Tessa Dare’s newest series, “Girl Meets Duke,” is off to a great start with the story of the Duke of Ashbury (Ash), a scarred war veteran, and Emma Gladstone, a seamstress trying to make her way in the world after being cast out by her vicar father. After a firm rejection from his fiance, Ash believes that he is too hideous to be loved or desired by any woman, but he knows that he needs to have an heir to ensure that his tenants and employees are cared for when he is gone. Enter Emma Gladstone.

When Emma shows up demanding to be paid for the wedding dress she made for the duke’s former fiance, Ash offers her two choices: he can pay her what she is owed for the dress or he can make her a duchess. While it’s not the most flattering of proposals, due to financial reasons and the opportunity to help a friend, Emma accepts under the condition that the duke join her for dinner- with conversation- every evening.

The book is full of Tessa Dare’s signature charming touches like comical pet names and Shakespearean insults. Add a well-meaning butler, a meddlesome maid, an incorrigible teenage boy, and an ornery cat, and you have a romance that has as many funny moments as romantic ones. And all of those moments lead our main characters closer to each other, closer to healing, and closer to love.

Until next month, dear readers, remember…every mind needs a little dirt in which to grow!

The Romance Garden!

And so we come once more to a new month, and a new sampling of our genre experts’ favorite selections from their romance reading.  We hope you enjoy–perhaps in your own summertime garden?  Or someone else’s?  Or the beach?  Or the mountains?  There is no where that Library books cannot travel!

Joseph Farquharson 1846-1935 Scottish painter

Bridget: Lady Clare is All That by Maya Rodale

It’s been a while since I found a romance that really worked for me, so it was a treat to come across Maya Rodale’s newest book and remember all the things I love about her romances.

Lady Claire Cavendish is a mathematician, even if no one finds brains attractive in a woman.  She has come to England to find a man–a specific man–another mathematician.  But instead, she finds the handsome, beguiling, and infuriating Lord Fox.  Fox has been nursing his ego ever since his fiancee jilted him.  So when he is offered a bet that he can transform Lady Claire, Society’s roughest diamond, into its most prized jewel, he figures it is the perfect way to divert his attention.  He never bargained on his subject being a real, actual–and fascinating–person.

Maya Rodale is one of those writers who really thinks about the romances she is writing, and the journey on which she sends her characters, so this Pygmalion-esque plot had a lot of depth, and a lot of transformations (though not the kind that either character imagined).  I loved that Claire never bothered to hide her brains, and that Fox, even though he hadn’t a clue what she was talking about, loved her for it.  All in all, this was a really fun, diverting, and heartwarming romance about loving someone both because of, and regardless of their looks.

Kelley: Between the Devil and the Duke by Kelly Bowen

Regency Romance writer Kelly Bowen is back with the third volume in her “A Season for Scandal” series. Angelique Archer is the unfortunate sister of a thoroughly debauched marquess. Since the death of both of their parents, the Archers find themselves on the brink of financial ruin, and Angelique knows for certain that her brother will do nothing to remedy the situation so she decides to take matters into her own hands.

Given her strength in mathematics and skill at cards, Angelique tries her luck at a gaming hell that allows masked women to attend anonymously. The success she has at the vingt-et-un table allows the Archers to keep up appearances, but it also attracts the attention of the gaming hell’s owner Alexander Lavoie. Alexander is initially attracted by Angelique’s mysterious beauty, but that attraction becomes something much more when he witnesses her quick mind, independence and resourceful nature firsthand.

A romance that includes mystery, a taste of London’s underworld, and a surprising plot twist, Between the Devil and the Duke is not your traditional Regency, but I think my favorite aspect of this book is that Alex and Angelique’s “happily ever after” is refreshingly different as well. However, if you want to know what happens, you’ll have to read the book. No spoilers in the Romance Garden! Happy reading!

Until next month, dear readers!