Out with the old, in with the new…

Here’s the first of 2018’s regular looks at the upcoming releases we here at AAR are most looking forward to reading in the next few weeks.  Drop by the comments section and tell us which books YOU’RE eager to read in January – do you agree with our choices, or is there something awesome coming up that we’ve missed?

Whatever your choices, we’d like to take the opportunity to wish all our readers a very Happy New Year! – may it be filled with lots of wonderful books!

The English Wife by Lauren Willig (9 Jan)

I enjoyed Ms. Willig’s Pink Carnation series but for some reason haven’t yet got around to reading any of the books she’s published since. But pre-publication buzz for The English Wife has me completely intrigued; New York’s Gilded Age isn’t an often used setting in historicals, and the storyline sounds absolutely compelling – Caz

I have heard so much about the historical mysteries of Lauren Willig, and yet, she’s an author I’ve not got around to picking up. I seem to be a historical mystery mood this month, because this book sounds right up my alley. Set in New York during the Gilded Age, it’s a story of a highly successful, devoted couple, who live a charmed life. Or do they? They’re found dead at their Christmas ball, and suddenly all sorts of unsavory details about them seep out of the woodwork. Ooh! – Keira

I ADORED Ms. Willig’s Pink Carnation books. I wish she would write something similar but any new book by her is something to look forward to. – Lee

I’m not sure what it is about Willig’s tales that draws me in but they tend to mesmerize me. This mystery, of a husband found dead on the eve of their Twelfth Night Ball, a wife gone missing and a sister determined to find answers sounds deliciously atmospheric and chilling. – Maggie

I was lucky enough to read an early copy of this novel, and I can’t wait for everyone else to read it too. It’s set in New York in the 1890s, a time period I’m especially fond of. The author weaves romance, mystery, and historical fiction into a spellbinding story I couldn’t get enough of. – Shannon

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Down by Contact by Santino Hassell (16 Jan)

I’m an unapologetic, full-fledged Santino Hassell fan. I loved his first Barons book, and I’ve liked/loved almost everything else Mr. Hassell has published. In Down by Contact, Simeon Boudreaux (who I wasn’t crazy about in the first novel) more than meets his match in linebacker Adrián Bravo. After an ugly fight on the field, the two find themselves working together on behalf of a local charity teaching at risk youth how to play football. But Simeon is attracted to Adrián, and Adrián can’t quite figure out why he’s so obsessed with Simeon. Everything about it sounds sexy, awesome and hot. And that cover. YOWSERS. – Em

Santino Hassell’s LGBTQ football series The Barons scored a touchdown with Illegal Contact, a story about a suspended player and his new personal assistant. Back on the field for this one, it’s the sexy story of quarterback Simeon Boudreaux and rival linebacker Adrian Bravo for whom one too many altercations results in joint community service teaching football to teenagers. Along the way they discover that their intense animosity for each other might actually be disguising other feelings. – Maria Rose

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Beyond Scandal and Desire by Lorraine Heath (30 Jan)

I’m a big fan of Ms. Heath’s and am keen to start her new Sins for all Seasons series, featuring a group of ‘siblings’ who may not all be related by blood, but who would do anything for one another. This first book tells the story of the illegitimate son of a duke who has pulled himself up out of the gutter to become a successful businessman, and the young woman he intents to as the instrument of his revenge on a father who refuses to acknowledge him. I admit that trope isn’t one of my favourites, but Ms. Heath has a way of pulling me in and twanging the heartstrings, so I’m more than willing to jump in. – Caz

Even though Ms. Heath’s last book was my least favorite in her catalog, I’m still a huge fan of hers and I’ll be reading this one as soon as it’s released. – Em

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A Warriner to Tempt Her by Virginia Heath (16 Jan)

Virginia Heath has very quickly cemented her position on my “must read” list and I’m enjoying her current series about the four Warriner brothers. This third book is about Joe, now qualified as a physician, and the sheltered young woman who finds herself working alongside him as they battle a deadly epidemic. – Caz

I’m new to the Heath fan club but happy to be here. Although I enjoyed the first two Warriner books, Ms. Heath wasn’t quite a one-click author for me. Then I picked up her recent holiday regency and was blown away. Each novel has been better than the last, and I’m hopeful A Warriner to Tempt Her continues in the same vein. A doctor and a bluestocking who fall in love after battling a smallpox epidemic – I’m swooning already. :) – Em

Joseph, the doctor of the group, finally gets his gal in this one. He was my favorite among the brothers in the Warriner book I read, so I’m hoping the shy Isabelle is more than his match. – Lisa

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Tempest by Beverley Jenkins (30 Jan)
This is a Marriage of Convenience story – love those – and the hero is a doctor – my own personal hero is a doctor as well and I enjoy seeing medicine in historical romance. It’s set in Wyoming when the now state was a wild territory – that appeals to me too. – Dabney

I’m a sucker for mail-order bride stories, and this one sounds pretty neat! – Lisa

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Promise Not to Tell Jayne Ann Krentz (2 Jan)

I’m a big fan of romantic suspense and Krentz can always be counted on to deliver an intriguing, engrossing read. Her latest is the tale of gallery owner Virginia Troy, who along with another childhood alum of a mysterious cult, goes looking for answers about the night that forever changed their lives. – Maggie

Jayne Ann Krentz was one of my favorite authors back in the nineties and even though she is no longer an auto-buy for me, with her new Cutler, Sutter & Salinas romantic suspense series she is back in top form. Promise Not to Tell is a story that spans twenty years and features a heroine dealing with the aftermath of a childhood spent in a cult. If it is anywhere near as good as When All the Girls Have Gone, it will $14 well spent. – Sidney

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The Trouble with True Love by Laura Lee Guhrke (30 Jan)

While Ms. Guhrke’s books do not always float my boat, when they do, I’m buoyant! ​I’m hoping this one will wow me like, oh, Guilty Pleasures. – Dabney

I have enjoyed the books by Laura Lee Guhrke I have picked up so far, and this promises to be entertaining as well. The heroine writes an advice column for a newspaper as Lady Truelove and quotes a rake spouting off in a tearoom… – Keira

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We’re also looking forward to…


A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn (16 Jan)

This third book featuring the intrepid lepidopterist Veronica Speedwell and her piratically handsome partner-in-crime (solving), Stoker, promises to reveal all about Stoker’s tragic past and the truth of his ill-fated marriage – while our dynamic duo work to discover the truth behind a mysterious disappearance and an Egyptian curse.  Excelsior!

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The Marquess Tames his Bride by Annie Burrows (25 Jan)

I enjoyed the first book in the author’s Brides for Bachelors series, and have been looking forward to reading the enigmatic Marquess of Rawcliffe’s story. He’s been in love with his childhood friend for years, and when a potentially disastrous situation causes him to announce they’re betrothed, it’s time for a major reassessment of their relationship. I love fake betrothal/compromised into marriage stories, and this looks set to hit the spot.

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The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor. 2017 was a great year for psychological thrillers and I’m hoping 2018 will be too. This story weaves between the past and the present and the past part of it is 1986 a time I remember well and enjoy seeing reflected in fiction. Tudor is a strong storyteller too.

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Relay by Layla Reyne (8 Jan)

I loved Ms. Reyne’s Agents Irish & Whisky series and have high hopes for this new duology. Set in the world of men’s competitive swimming, Changing Lanes follows two couples who compete on the same medley relay team as they vie for a spot on the US Olympic team. I love a great sports romance and this one is timely – the winter Olympics kick off in just a few months. Athletes facing tremendous odds and falling in love…yes please.

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The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory (30 Jan)
Ms. Guillory’s début has received quite a bit of hype – hopefully for good reason – and I’m looking forward to reading it over my holiday break. Featuring one of my favorite tropes – the fake relationship (sigh…when will they ever learn?), a large cast of secondary characters and two intelligent, successful principals trying to make a surprise long distance relationship work…well, this one has my name written all over it.

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Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley (2 Jan)

I was first introduced to Jennifer Ashley by The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, and I loved that entire historical series. I’m highly intrigued that this wonderful writer is also writing historical mysteries. I definitely plan on giving this book a whirl, particularly as it is a cross-class story: from below stairs, to above stairs, all the way to royalty.

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Wallflower Most Wanted by Manda Collins (30 Jan)

Over the years, Manda Collins has become an ever popular romance writer, winning noteworthy awards and mentions. The hero of this book is a delicious vicar – be still my beating heart. The heroine is a painter and there’s a mystery, but the most important question is: How much passion and intimacy is the good vicar going to allow?

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Runaway Groom by Lauren Layne (30 Jan)

The 2nd in her series base on a Bachelor-knock off reality show called Jilted, and this one cannot hit my Kindle fast enough. Mix one of my catnips (Bachelor-ish reality shows) with another (anything written by Lauren Layne) and I am in. SO IN.

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Still Me by JoJo Moyes (30 Jan)

This is the second sequel (the first was After You) to the tearjerker Me Before You. The story continues with our heroine Louisa Clark going to NYC for a new job.

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The Girls In the Picture by Melanie Benjamin (16 Jan)

I’m a HUGE Mary Pickford fan, and this novelization of her friendship with screenwriter and director Frances Marion looks interesting!

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Dark in Death J.D. Robb (30 Jan)

What can I say, I’m a fan of this series. Eve and the gang pit their skills against a dastardly killer who is enacting scenes from their favorite mystery stories. Will it be cliched, unbelievable and a bit trite? Probably. But it will also be interesting and amusing and a great way to spend a cold afternoon.

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Maria Rose

 Man Candy by Jessica Lemmon (9 Jan)

After having thoroughly enjoyed Arm Candy, I’m hoping for an encore with Man Candy, book three in the Real Love series. It’s got a forced proximity trope (trapped in a cabin together for 2 weeks!) and knowing this author, it will mean some sexy times and fun and witty banter.

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Seduction on the Slopes by Tamsen Parker (16 Jan)

I love watching winter sports so a romance series like the Snow and Ice Games by Tamsen Parker, with a mix of LGBTQ and male/female stories is definitely one I plan to read in its entirety. Book one, Love on the Tracks, starred a female luge athlete with a rock star in a very sex positive and fun romance. This one is about two male skiing teammates – a rookie and a pro. They’re on the same team but serious competitors, their goals of winning hampered by a searing sexual attraction. Sounds hot enough to melt the snow under their skis!

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After Hours by Lynda Aicher (22 Jan)

Lynda Aicher’s Wicked Play BDSM series is one of my favorites and seeing that she’s got a new series in 2018 along a similar theme guarantees it will be on my list. The Boardroom is an executive level sex club run in secret where business men and women come to play. After Hours is about an assistant who walks in on an uninhibited scene involving one of her company’s bosses. This one definitely belongs in the erotic romance category!

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Unraveled by Lauren Dane (30 Jan)

Lauren Dane made my best reads of 2015 list with Opening Up, and while I’m still working on her extensive backlist, I’m excited to give the first romance in her new Whiskey Sharp series a try. The heroine in Unraveled works at a barbershop/whiskey bar, cutting hair by day and drumming in a punk rock band at night. Not only does she sound kickass, but the hero is described as ‘brooding and bearded’. One-click!

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Blood Fury by J.R. Ward (9 Jan)

I’m a sucker for anything J.R. Ward writes, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that Blood Fury is on my list of anticipated reads for January. I love spending time in the worlds she creates, and I can’t think of a better time to do it than a cold January day.

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The Wife by Alafair Burke (23 Jan)

I’ve been on a huge domestic thriller kick of late, and The Wife, the latest novel from Alafair Burke, looks absolutely wonderful. It promises to explore the secrets spouses keep from one another, and the devastating effect those secrets can have on a marriage. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

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Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughn (23 Jan)

I’ve been looking forward to Anatomy of a Scandal for months. It’s recommended for fans of Downton Abbey, a drama I adore. It promises to be filled with scandal and sensuality, and I’m counting down the days until its release.

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Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

Among the numerous young adult dystopian series I’ve read over the last several year, the Red Rising trilogy is one of my favorites. Needless to say, I was excited to learn that the author has written a fourth book that picks up about ten years after the events of Morning Star and am curious to see what direction the author will take the story now that my favorite young heroes are in their thirties.

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Queer romance, romantic suspense and historicals - romance, mysteries, fiction -  are my genres of choice these days, and when I haven't got my nose in a book, I’ve got my ears in one.  I’m a huge fan of audiobooks and am rarely to be found without my earbuds in.