The Spice King: Hope and Glory, Book One by Elizabeth CamdenStarring: Smithsonian botanist Annabelle Larkin, who's moved to 1900s Washington, D.C. with her blind sister; globetrotting plant collector Gray Delacroix, who's brought his family's spice business back from ruin.
What happens: Tasked with gaining access to Delacroix's collection, especially a vanilla orchid, Annabelle gets involved in political and business intrigues -- and falls in love -- in this series opener.
About the author: Elizabeth Camden is a librarian as well as a Christy Award-winning writer who pens richly detailed, well-researched tales.
Strands of Truth by Colleen CobleWhat it is: a compelling romantic suspense story that delves into the cutting-edge world of DNA testing and medical research.
What happens: Marine biologist Harper Taylor, who believes she has no living relatives, is surprised that DNA results show she has a half-sister. After her business partner/mentor is attacked and Harper and her half-sister are almost kidnapped, she grows closer to her mentor's son as they try to sort out what's going on and keep the business afloat.
A Glitter of Gold by Liz JohnsonWhat it's about: Anne Norris spent time in prison due to a misunderstanding and now ekes out a living in Savannah, Georgia, giving pirate tours. After a hurricane, she finds a gold sword hilt on the beach and contacts museum director Carter Hale, who thinks it's linked to an undiscovered shipwreck and convinces her to help him look for it.
Why you might like it: This 2nd stand-alone installment of the evocative, faith-filled Georgia Coast series (after A Sparkle of Silver) incorporates historical diary entries into its present-day narrative, offering readers glimpses of the past.
Finding Lady Enderly by Joanna Davidson PolitanoWhat happens: A handsome stranger offers Raina Bretton, a rag woman in 1871 London's East End, a position at Rothburne Abbey. Alone in the world, she agrees, but upon arrival, she's disturbed to learn that she's to impersonate a countess and that everyone has secrets.
Read it for: the lyrical writing; the clever twists and turns; and a novel system of sending secret messages.
For fans of: Gothic-tinged historical romances like Sandra Byrd's Mist of Midnight (the 1st in her Daughters of Hampshire trilogy) or Julie Klassen's Lady Maybe or her The Secret of Pembrooke Park.
Catching Christmas by Terri BlackstockFeaturing: rookie lawyer Sydney, whose firm is laying off employees; her grandmother Callie, who's in a wheelchair and has dementia; and Finn, a down-on-his-luck cab driver and former chef.
What happens: With Sydney busy trying to keep her job, Callie calls on Finn to drive her to appointments, and to help her with her Christmas project: finding a date for Sydney.
For fans of: sweet, fresh Christmas romances with bits of humor.
His Promise: An Amish Christmas in Hart County by Shelley Shepard GrayWhat it's about: Amish pet sitter Grace King is spending a lonely Christmas season with a dachshund named Snooze, who's quicker than his name would indicate. Then she meets her closest neighbor, an Amish firefighter who broke her sister's heart three years earlier (and whom she had a crush on), as suspicious fires plague the area.
Series alert: This is the 6th and final entry in the Amish of Hart County, a romantic suspense series set in Kentucky that began with Her Secret.
The Christmas Star by Donna VanLiereFeaturing: Maddie, a precocious seven-year-old foster child; Gabe Rodriguez, a kind maintenance worker at her school; and Amy Denison, her new after-school teacher.
What happens: Maddie finds out that Gabe isn't married and decides to find him a girlfriend. What she doesn't know is that the lady she's picked out for him is someone he already knows.
For fans of: spunky matchmaking kids, second-chance romances, and feel-good Christmas stories.
The White Christmas Inn by Colleen WrightThe place: Vermont's picture-perfect Evergreen Inn, owned by Jeanne and Tim, who have grown apart amid financial troubles. They are helped by Iris, the elderly former owner, and Luke, her visiting grandson.
Guests include: Hannah, who's been coming to the inn since she was a girl, whose groom cancels their Christmas wedding; her best friend, Audrey, whose military husband can't get there due to the snow; children's book author Molly, suffering from writer's block; and widower Marcus and his two daughters, forced to stop there by a blizzard.
For fans of: Hallmark Christmas movies; charming romances featuring multiple couples.
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