The Romance Bookshelves: Stocking stuffers, friendly disagreements & more!

Cathy Maxwell is the Austin-based author of over thirty best-selling historical romance novels. Her latest, If Ever I Should Love You, is out December 26. She writes a monthly column for BookPeople. Learn more at

December is reading time. With all the hurrying and prepping and planning, I savor a few hours with a great book. You don’t want to miss these titles before we leave 2017.


Touch of Red by Lara Griffin:  This book proves Griffin is one of the top romantic suspense writers on shelves today. There is a missing witness, a complicated, grisly murder, and a wonderful dynamic between a San Marcos detective (yes, it is set locally) and the crime scene investigator who is so involved in the investigation, she becomes a target for the killer. Those of you who know San Marcos will read for the local flavor. The rest of us will read for the page turning thrills combined with dry cop humor. Good reading.

It’s Hard Out Here for a Duke by Maya Rodale: Rodale’s duke is a charmer and her heroine is a proper lass who gave herself over for one secret night of bliss. She’s horrified to be confronted with her lover the next day as her new pupil. Meredith Green thought she’d never see the handsome stranger again. Instead, she is tasked with teaching American born James Cavendish how to behave in his new title of Duke of Durham — except he thought they had a good night, too, and he is ready for another. Think of this as the male version of The Princess Diaries with benefits!

A Duke In Shining Armor: Difficult Dukes by Loretta Chase: The marvelous Loretta Chase pits a clever bluestocking who runs away on her wedding day against an honorable rake who is determined to return her to her intended in A Duke In Shining Armor: Difficult Dukes. Their weapons of choice are fun banter, smart wordplay, loads of sexual attraction, and the magic of love. If you haven’t read Chase, you must. If you have, read this now. In fact, here is a challenge — I defy you to read the first chapter and not want more. Just delightful.

New & Noteworthy: 

  • Nora Roberts is out with the first book of a new fantasy romance series. Year One: Chronicles of the One proves what a masterful storyteller Roberts is. Do not be put off by the darker theme. This is trademark Nora and has been receiving rave reviews.
  • A friend and I argue over The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. I adored it; she was meh. Instead, she preferred Hating You/Dating You by Christina Lauren. I believe we can both agree that Lauren’s latest contemporary, Roomies, is a great read. Super pacing.
  • Don’t forget: Old School Romance Book Club (OSRBC) Austin meets the third Sunday of the month at 3:30 PM on the third floor of BookPeople. See you there!

— Cathy Maxwell

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