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Souljacker

Yasmine Galenorn (Diversion)

Lily, a reclusive 600-year-old succubus, is pulled into the larger paranormal community when a politically popular weretiger is killed in her one-woman brothel. Help comes from an unexpected source: chaos demon Archer, who reaches her emotionally in a way that few have managed. Galenorn’s crackling mix of paranormal mystery and erotic romance boasts a layered, complex plot that rewards multiple readings.

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Positively Pippa

Sarah Hegger (Zebra)

Hegger’s utterly delightful first Ghost Falls contemporary is what other romance novels want to grow up to be. Alongside the tale of two warm-hearted friends who cheerfully decide to act on their longtime mutual attraction is a thoughtful, sympathetic examination of all the pressures of modern life, including being (in)famous on social media, caring for aging relatives, contending with addiction and associated shame, and balancing conflicting careers and ambitions.

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You May Kiss the Bride

Lisa Berne (Avon)

Debut author Berne’s Regency romance sparkles with dry, subtle wit. The wealthy Penhallows have always married for duty, not love, but stuffy Gabriel Penhallow’s magnetic attraction to fiery, penniless Livia Stuart upends his plans. Berne smoothly works in social commentary on quack medicine and boorish men while championing the righteous rage and suppressed longings of mistreated women, updating Austenian sensibilities for the 21st-century reader.

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An Extraordinary Union

Alyssa Cole (Kensington)

In Cole’s impressive Civil War–era romance, Malcolm McCall, a white man, and Elle Burns, a black woman, develop a dangerous mutual attraction while spying for the Union. Cole is unsparing when depicting the racism and sexism that both terrify Elle and allow her to pass almost unnoticed in a wealthy Rebel household; society’s casual disregard for her is balanced by Malcolm’s deep respect for her knowledge, skills, and bravado.

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Under Her Skin

Adriana Anders (Sourcebooks Casablanca)

Anders’s riveting contemporary debut explores the aftereffects of trauma, here depicted in physical form. Uma’s ex-boyfriend covered her body with unwanted tattoos. Fleeing, she finds a menial job, a clinic offering free tattoo removal, and a neighbor, Ivan, who exudes safety. Ivan’s own scars are emotional but no less real. Kindness and trust infuse this romance, encouraging readers to believe in hope even after torture and terror.

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