5. Trouble at the Wedding / Laura Lee Guhrke. An impoverished Earl of dubious character is about to marry a wealthy American heiress from the backwaters of Mississippi. Her uncle hires an impoverished Duke, also of dubious character, to put a stop to the wedding. And thus begins this Edwardian-set historical that explores the British aristocracy's need for American money at the turn of the 20th century. Christian, the Duke and our hero, was married before and is determined to never marry again. Annabel is a smart and determined young woman who has a very business-like, practical approach to marriage. She wants to find a place in society specifically so her younger sister will never have to experience the social ostracism that Annabel experienced as a teen. Besides the setting, the best part of this book for me was Annabel who knew exactly what she was doing and why she was doing it. She understood how to use and make money and it was refreshing to see Christian come to her for advice about money.
4. An Unexpected Gentleman by Alissa Johnson. I have to say that this was an unexpected pleasure to read. I wasn't sure I would like this one, but I had liked the previous book in the series (Nearly a Lady) well enough that I wanted to keep reading. Adelaide is expecting to become engaged to Robert when Connor, Robert's bastard half-brother, compromises Adelaide and marries her instead. Adelaide is not exactly happy to be manipulated this way, but in truth she is far more attracted to Connor and she has few choices left to her. There is a lot of anger and resentment between Connor and Robert and Adelaide is in the middle of it all. Nonetheless, Connor's attraction to Adelaide is real and poignant. I enjoyed Adelaide and Connor's emotional journey and I like a book where the protagonists marry early in the book and have to work their way to a happy marriage.
3. His Secret Past by Ellen Hartman. This was my January TBR read. A solid, sweet read.
2. Unraveled by Courtney Milan. This is Milan's third and final book in her series about the Turner siblings. Middle brother Smite is the hero here. He's a magistrate and when Miranda Darling appears before him in court he knows he's seen her before--using a different name. Smite goes after her to find out why she did that. Smite is a rigid and controlled person. He has become that way to deal with the trauma that he experienced as a child--stuff that's been hinted at in the earlier books. But it doesn't mean that he doesn't feel, and feel deeply. As Smite becomes involved with Miranda, we learn more about what happened to him and what makes him tick. Meanwhile, Miranda doesn't have magical healing powers. What she does have is the ability to live with him in spite of his very real issues. That's a special kind of love. Miranda is a great heroine. She doesn't make stupid or unrealistic decisions. Once again, Milan has crafted a wonderful story with characters who seem very real. It's always a shame when I reach the end of this kind of book.
1. The Mill River Recluse by Darcie Chan. This was a surprising treat that I reviewed here. While I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say it was the best written book I read last month, it was still very well done. Moreover, the story is one that has continued to stick with me. So because of that, it's my #1 pick for the month. By a hair. A bargain for anyone with an e-reader.