NPR logo 3 Romances To Remind You That Love Is All Around — All Year Long

3 Romances To Remind You That Love Is All Around — All Year Long

Yes, it is Valentine's Day — but we like romance novels all year 'round. Mareike Standow/EyeEm/Getty Images hide caption

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Mareike Standow/EyeEm/Getty Images

Yes, it is Valentine's Day — but we like romance novels all year 'round.

Mareike Standow/EyeEm/Getty Images

It's Valentine's Day, which means it's time of year to revel in the outward displays of love — be it flowers, chocolates, or wine. It's also the time of year when romance novelists are suddenly in hot demand for our expertise on dramatic displays of affection, the perfect romantic evening out ... or what to read for a delicious night in.

Authors and readers of the genre know that romance is more than a once-a-year affair. In these novels, love is always front and center, and the central relationship is often as complicated as it is passionate. The swoon-worthy declarations of love that regularly occur approximately three quarters of the way through the story derive their power not from over the top displays, but heartfelt and honest words. The guaranteed happy ending reminds us that love is more than just a day, and more than just a display, and it's always worth fighting for.

These three romance novels have all that and more — the passion and complications, tender gestures and romantic declarations, and beautiful happy-ever-afters. On their own, each one would make for a romantic night in — but they'd pair well with flowers, chocolate and wine, too.

Breathless

by Beverly Jenkins

Paperback, 376 pages, Avon, $7.99, published January 31 2017 | purchase

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Breathless
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Beverly Jenkins

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Breathless, by Beverly Jenkins, is a slow burn of a romance set in the old west and featuring one very hunky cowboy. Smart, headstrong hotel manager Portia Carmichael has sworn off suitors — and then Kent Randolph rides into town. He's an old family friend, looking for a place to settle down, and hopefully it's in the arms of the woman he calls Duchess (a detail sure to make romance readers swoon). Life in the West doesn't make it easy for the couple: there's the death of a neighbor, followed by arson, murder, kidnapping, and hilariously difficult hotel guests to test them, though none of that can match family members set on encouraging the match — and their own attraction to each other. While Portia has her pick of suitors, we know Kent is the hero, not just because of the way his denims fit, or his skill at kissing, but by the way he encourages Portia to chase her dreams of starting her own bookkeeping business. Real heroes — be they cowboys or dukes — aren't threatened by a smart, independent heroine, and real love flourishes when two people can be the truest versions of themselves.

On Second Thought

by Kristan Higgins

Paperback, 470 pages, Harlequin Books, $15.99, published January 31 2017 | purchase

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On Second Thought
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Kristan Higgins

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Sometimes love isn't all sunshine, roses and forever, as Kristan Higgans reminds us in On Second Thought, a contemporary novel set in New York's Hudson Valley and featuring a richly drawn cast of characters. Kate is suddenly widowed a mere four months after her marriage — and just shy of her 40th birthday — while her younger sister Ainsley is reeling from the sudden (and very public) demise of her 11-year relationship with Eric, a cancer survivor who no longer needs her now that he's disease-free. While family dynamics complicate things further, the sisters' friendship deepens as they rely on each other to get through both heartache and the second love that finds them both. This is a novel about how love happens when you least expect it, with the people you don't always anticipate — and at any age.

Mogul

by Joanna Shupe

Paperback, 406 pages, Zebra, $7.99, published January 31 2017 | purchase

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Mogul
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Joanna Shupe

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In Joanna Shupe's Mogul, true love gets a second chance along with a heady dose of suspense. In another American-set historical — this time turn-of-the-20th-century New York City — wealthy newspaper owner Calvin Cabot reluctantly teams up with willful heiress Lillian Davies to find her missing brother. Lily and Calvin used to be married, until her father interrupted their honeymoon with an ultimatum to the then-impoverished Calvin: Annul the marriage, or he'll deny his daughter her inheritance. Four years later, their attraction is as potent as ever, though complicated by pain from the past. Their search takes them from glamorous uptown New York to Chinatown, and the plot hinges in part on the effects of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, making this historical novel achingly relevant to today. Nevertheless, both the thrill of the chase and Lily's steamy scenes with Calvin will have reader's hearts racing. The happy ending reminds us all that love is always worth chasing.

Maya Rodale is a bestselling romance author.

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