Sword and Shadow (Wolves of Elantra #2)

February 2022 Must Haves

BP Note: Welcome to Feb. We have lots of titles on our list this month. Several I have been waiting for umm since they were first announced. And this is also Winter Olympics month. Now I am torn, which will win my attention, great feats of both athleticism and sportspersonship or the ever growing TBR pile? Regardless I am all in for a positive month and I hope you are too. What are you looking forward to this month?
Happy reading!
~E

Contemporary Romance

The Friendship Contract (Terms and Conditions #1)The Friendship Contract (Terms and Conditions #1) by Mia Heintzelman – 8 Feb (Levi Lynn Books)

This contract is entered into by and between Allegra Malone and Damon Dawson. The term of this agreement shall begin immediately and continue through its termination date of never.

The terms are as follows:

1. Find the bright side when your best friend (the woman you’ve secretly been in love with for 10+ years) finds an engagement ring in her live-in boyfriend’s gym bag.
2. When she discovers the ring isn’t for her, and you volunteer to mop up her tears, don’t freak out if you accidentally share a world-shattering kiss.
3. Remember she’s your best friend and law firm partner…and a hopeless romantic. Being her rebound isn’t worth risking the only family you have.
4. Immediately—rationally—draw up a no-strings agreement, stipulating equal opportunity orgasms. Under no circumstances is PDA or catching (further) feelings allowed.
5. If while adding a wedding plus-one clause, the doorbell rings and it’s a moving company with all her belongings, and now you’re going to be roommates, shower. The colder, the better.
In consideration of the mutual promises set forth herein, both parties agree that if at anytime while forced to live and work together they find themselves falling in love, they will re-read the fine print.
Fine Print: Do not fall in love.

This contract shall be binding and may not be modified in any manner unless in writing and signed by both parties.

Inked Craving (Montgomery Ink- Fort Collins #19)Inked Craving (Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins #19) by Carrie Ann Ryan – 15 Feb (Carrie Anne Ryan)

Instead of walking away with a marriage proposal, Paige Montgomery ended up broken hearted and pregnant.

Now she has to figure out how to begin her life again alone.

She refuses to fall for another man, yet every time she sees Lee Grier, her traitorous heart aches for him. It doesn’t matter he’s her brother’s best friend and wants to be her rock in the storm. She knows she has to weather the oncoming pressures on her own.

When they can no longer fight the pull between them, they’ll have to remember that passion can only shelter them from reality for so long and letting themselves fall will be the hardest step yet.

Bound by Her Rival's Baby (Ghana's Most Eligible Billionaires #1)Bound by Her Rival’s Baby (Ghana’s Most Eligible Billionaires #1) by Maya Blake – 22 Feb (Harlequin Presents)

Atu Quayson is the rebel in a family that exudes power and influence. Unexpectedly pulled back into the Quayson empire, Atu must persuade Amelie Hayford, daughter of his father’s fiercest rival, to sell her family’s beach resort—to the enemy!

Why, wonders Amelie, does she feel such a wild attraction to the one man who is completely off-limits? Surrendering to the intense heat raging between them was inevitable. What they didn’t expect was the explosive consequences… And Amelie has to find the words to tell Atu she’s pregnant with his heir!

Fantasy

Rise of the MagesRise of the Mages by Scott Drakeford – 8 Feb (Tor Books)

Emrael Ire wants nothing more than to test to be a weapons master. His final exam will be a bloody insurrection, staged by corrupt nobles and priests, that enslaves his brother.

With the aid of his War Master tutor, herself an undercover mage, Emrael discovers his own latent and powerful talents.

To rescue his brother, Emrael must embrace not only his abilities as a warrior but also his place as last of the ancient Mage Kings—for the Fallen God has returned.

And he is hungry.

Age of Ash (Kithamar Trilogy #1)Age of Ash (Kithamar Trilogy #1) by Daniel Abraham – 15 Feb (Orbit Books)

Kithamar is a center of trade and wealth, an ancient city with a long, bloody history where countless thousands live and their stories unfold.

This is Alys’s.

When her brother is murdered, a petty thief from the slums of Longhill sets out to discover who killed him and why. But the more she discovers about him, the more she learns about herself, and the truths she finds are more dangerous than knives.

Swept up in an intrigue as deep as the roots of Kithamar, where the secrets of the lowest born can sometimes topple thrones, the story Alys chooses will have the power to change everything.

Sword and Shadow (Wolves of Elantra #2)Sword and Shadow (Wolves of Elantra #2) by Michelle Sagara – 22 Feb (MIRA)

Beyond the Emperor’s law

In exchange for information about his past, Severn Handred joins a Barrani lord on a mission to the West March—an enclave well outside the boundaries of the Empire. Granted a leave of absence from the Wolves, Severn is in danger the moment he steps outside the reach of Imperial law. But the instincts that led him to the Wolves and the sense of duty that keeps him there can’t be discarded as easily as the tabard he wears.

In the heart of the West March, enmeshed in a tangled web of secrets that have been kept for centuries, Severn’s belief in justice is going to be tested. There are murders to solve, people to protect, and truths to uncover. It’s one mortal man and his single Barrani friend against a community of immortals who will die and kill to keep their secrets. But they’re up against the Wolves now.

Fantasy Romance

Legends and LattesLegends and Lattes by Travis Baldtree – 22 Feb (Cryptid Press)

Worn out after decades of packing steel and raising hell, Viv the orc barbarian cashes out of the warrior’s life with one final score. A forgotten legend, a fabled artifact, and an unreasonable amount of hope lead her to the streets of Thune, where she plans to open the first coffee shop the city has ever seen.

However, her dreams of a fresh start pulling shots instead of swinging swords are hardly a sure bet. Old frenemies and Thune’s shady underbelly may just upset her plans. To finally build something that will last, Viv will need some new partners and a different kind of resolve.

A hot cup of fantasy slice-of-life with a dollop of romantic froth.

Historical Fiction

A Lullaby for WitchesA Lullaby for Witches by Hester Fox – 1 Feb (Graydon House)

Once there was a young woman from a well-to-do New England family who never quite fit with the drawing rooms and parlors of her kin.

Called instead to the tangled woods and wild cliffs surrounding her family’s estate, Margaret Harlowe grew both stranger and more beautiful as she cultivated her uncanny power. Soon, whispers of “witch” dogged her footsteps, and Margaret’s power began to wind itself with the tendrils of something darker.

One hundred and fifty years later, Augusta Podos takes a dream job at Harlowe House, the historic home of a wealthy New England family that has been turned into a small museum in Tynemouth, Massachusetts. When Augusta stumbles across an oblique reference to a daughter of the Harlowes who has nearly been expunged from the historical record, the mystery is too intriguing to ignore.

But as she digs deeper, something sinister unfurls from its sleep, a dark power that binds one woman to the other across lines of blood and time. If Augusta can’t resist its allure, everything she knows and loves—including her very life—could be lost forever.

Circus of WondersCircus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal – 1 Feb (Atria)

1866. In a coastal village in southern England, Nell picks violets for a living. Set apart by her community because of the birthmarks that speckle her skin, Nell’s world is her beloved brother and devotion to the sea.

But when Jasper Jupiter’s Circus of Wonders arrives in the village, Nell is kidnapped. Her father has sold her, promising Jasper Jupiter his very own leopard girl. It is the greatest betrayal of Nell’s life, but as her fame grows, and she finds friendship with the other performers and Jasper’s gentle brother Toby, she begins to wonder if joining the show is the best thing that has ever happened to her.

In London, newspapers describe Nell as the eighth wonder of the world. Figurines are cast in her image, and crowds rush to watch her soar through the air. But who gets to tell Nell’s story? What happens when her fame threatens to eclipse that of the showman who bought her? And as she falls in love with Toby, can he detach himself from his past and the terrible secret that binds him to his brother?

Moving from the pleasure gardens of Victorian London to the battle-scarred plains of the Crimea, Circus of Wonders is an astonishing story about power and ownership, fame and the threat of invisibility.

Historical Mystery

Marion Lane and the Deadly Rose (Marion Lane #2)Marion Lane and the Deadly Rose (Marion Lane #2) by T.A. Willberg – 1 Feb (Park Row)

It’s 1959 and a new killer haunts the streets of London, having baffled Scotland Yard. The newspapers call him The Florist because of the rose he brands on his victims. The police have turned yet again to the Inquirers at Miss Brickett’s for assistance, and second-year Marion Lane is assigned the case.

But she’s already dealing with a mystery of her own, having received an unsigned letter warning her that one of the three new recruits should not be trusted. She dismisses the letter at first, focusing on The Florist case, but her informer seems to be one step ahead, predicting what will happen before it does. But when a fellow second-year Inquirer is murdered, Marion takes matters into her own hands and must come face-to-face with her informer—who predicted the murder—to find out everything they know. Until then, no one at Miss Brickett’s is safe and everyone is a suspect.

Historical Romance

Ten Rules for Marrying a DukeTen Rules for Marrying a Duke by Michelle McLean – 14 Feb (Entangled)

Bookish Arabella Bromley never gave a fig for society’s rules—until her sister ran off with a man below her station. Now Arabella is desperate to restore her family’s ruined reputation to favor amongst the ton. She’ll have to marry quickly and well. But in order to carry off her plan, Arabella needs a duke… and she has just the rakish fellow in mind.

The Duke of Whittsley has an ungentlemanly tendency to disregard the rules. Unfortunately, a sense of mischief doesn’t excuse a high-ranking noble from family duty—especially where it concerns producing a son. And that’s where he can’t quite resist Arabella’s distinctly outrageous plan: if he saves her family, she’ll give him an heir.

Now the deal’s been struck. They have one year to achieve their goals and ten iron-clad rules to keep them on track. Like long, scorching kisses and ensuring they’re both exquisitely satisfied. And the only thing that could ruin their plan is the one thing they never planned on: love.

Last Duke Standing (Royal Match #1)Last Duke Standing (Royal Match #1) by Julia London – 22 Feb (HQN)

When Crown Princess Justine of Wesloria is sent to England to learn the ropes of royalty, she falls under the tutelage of none other than Queen Victoria herself. Justine’s also in the market for a proper husband—one fit to marry the future queen of Wesloria.

Because he knows simply everyone, William, Lord Douglas (the notoriously rakish heir to the Duke of Hamilton seat in Scotland, and decidedly not husband material), is on hand as an escort of sorts. William has been recruited to keep an eye on the royal matchmaker for the Weslorian prime minister, tasked to ensure the princess is matched with a man of quality…and one who will be sympathetic to the prime minister’s views. As William and Justine are forced to scrutinize an endless parade of England’s best bachelors, they become friends. But when the crowd of potential grooms is steadily culled, what if William is the last bachelor standing?

The Good Girl's Guide to Rakes (Last Chance Scoundrels #1)The Good Girl’s Guide to Rakes (Last Chance Scoundrels #1) by Eva Leigh – 22 Feb (Avon)

When Kieran Ransome’s latest antics result in a massive scandal, his father issues an ultimatum: find a respectable wife or inherit nothing. But as one of London’s most inveterate scoundrels, Kieran doesn’t know any ladies who fit the bill. Or does he?

Celeste Kilburn is a society darling, beloved by influential members of the ton. But keeping a spotless reputation leaves little room for adventure and she longs to escape her gilded cage, especially with her impending engagement to a stuffy earl. When Kieran—her older brother’s best friend and an irresistibly attractive rogue—begs for her help, Celeste makes a deal: she’ll introduce him to the right social circles if he’ll show her the scandalous side of London.

In between proper teas and garden parties, Kieran escorts Celeste—disguised as “Salome”—to rowdy gaming hells, wild fêtes, and sensual art salons. As they spend more time together, their initial attraction builds to a desperate desire that neither can ignore. But when someone discovers their midnight exploits, Celeste’s freedom and reputation are endangered, and Kieran must save the woman he loves… respectable or not.

Paranormal Romance

Good Neighbors (Full Collection)Good Neighbors (Full Collection) by Stephanie Burgis – 2 Feb (Five Fathoms Press)

Mia Brandt knows better than to ever again allow her true powers to be discovered. Ever since her last neighbors burned down her workshop in a night of terror and flame, she’s been determined to stay solitary, safe, and – to all outside appearances – perfectly respectable…

But Leander Fabian, whose sinister castle looms over her cozy new cottage, has far more dangerous ideas in mind. When he persuades Mia into a reluctant alliance, she finds herself swept into an exhilarating world of midnight balls, interfering countesses, illicit opera house expeditions, necromantic duels, and a whole unnatural community of fellow magic-workers and outcasts, all of whom are facing a terrifying threat.

Luckily, Mia has unnatural powers of her own – but even her unique skills may not be enough to protect her new found family and help her resist the wickedly provoking neighbor who’s seen through all of her shields from the beginning.

This novel-length collection includes all four stories and novellas originally published on Stephanie Burgis’s Patreon in 2020-2021: Good Neighbors, Deadly Courtesies, Fine Deceptions, and Fierce Company.

Something PerfectSomething Perfect by Laura Anne Gilman – 14 Feb (Faery Cat Press)

Jenny knows that her marriage with Nic is rock-solid. But she also knows that they’re missing something. Someone. But she’s not sure she can go through another round of love-and-loss.

Nic knows better than to use his scrying talent for personal gain. But when yet another partner ends things, Jenny, heartbroken, begs him to “see” their perfect third.

Amy has given up on dating. Again. She’s accepted that maybe there isn’t someone out there for her.

When the three of them meet, it should be perfect. But magic isn’t a guarantee….

Wish Out of Water (Hooked #1)Wish Out of Water (Hooked #1) by Holley Trent – 15 Feb (Holley Trent)

Brook Williams was raised to avoid drawing attention at all costs. At twenty-eight, she wonders if her mermaid mother’s paranoia isolated Brook and her siblings from society to a harmful extreme. When Brook intervenes to save a stranger from a careening truck, however, she quickly learns her mother’s obsessive concerns were entirely justified.

There’s just something about Brook that Cooper Koning can’t get off his mind. At first, he thinks his infatuation is due to the concussion sustained when she shoved him out of traffic. Then he realizes that she’s simply perfect…perfect to free him from a looming future being the king of Souersland. His candid Hail Mary proposal comes with few strings attached: Brook marries him, he’s tossed from the line of succession, she gets a wad of cash for her struggling swim school, and they go their separate ways.

Of course, Cooper soon realizes that he’d be foolish to let her go.

Now that she’s left her little world, though, the mermaid skeletons in Brook’s closet can no longer stay hidden. Her mother left the sea to escape a burdensome duty, and now that duty is Brook’s. And in a strange twist of fate, that mantle may mean that it isn’t even Cooper’s human family who should rule Souersland, but Brook’s magical one.

Can a relationship built on fables endure? Or will the star-crossed spouses quickly decide their differences are too tremendous to overcome?

Romantic Suspense

Abandoned in Death (In Death #54)Abandoned in Death (In Death #54) by J.D. Robb – 8 Feb (St. Martin’s)

Homicide detective Eve Dallas must untangle a twisted family history while a hostage’s life hangs in the balance—in the new In Death novel by #1 New York Times bestselling J. D. Robb.

The woman’s body was found on a bench in a New York City playground. She was clean, her hair neatly arranged, her makeup carefully applied. But other things were very wrong—like the tattoo and piercings, clearly new. The clothes, decades out of date. The fatal wound hidden beneath a ribbon around her neck. And the note: Bad Mommy, written in crayon as if by a child.

It seems clear the killer’s childhood was traumatic—a situation Eve is all too familiar with herself. Yet the clues point to a perpetrator who’d be around sixty, and there are no records of old crimes with a similar MO. What was the trigger that apparently reopened such an old wound and sent someone over the edge? When Eve learns that other young women have recently vanished, the case grows even more urgent—and to solve it she’ll need to find her way into a hidden place of dim light and concrete, into the distant past, and into the depths of a shattered mind.

Science Fiction

BluebirdBluebird by Ciel Pierlot – 8 Feb (Angry Robots)

Lesbian gunslinger fights spies in space!

Three factions vie for control of the galaxy. Rig, a gunslinging, thieving, rebel with a cause, doesn’t give a damn about them and she hasn’t looked back since abandoning her faction three years ago.

That is, until her former faction sends her a message: return what she stole from them, or they’ll kill her twin sister.

Rig embarks on a journey across the galaxy to save her sister – but for once she’s not alone. She has help from her network of resistance contacts, her taser-wielding librarian girlfriend, and a mysterious bounty hunter.

If Rig fails and her former faction finds what she stole from them, trillions of lives will be lost–including her sister’s. But if she succeeds, she might just pull the whole damn faction system down around their ears. Either way, she’s going to do it with panache and pizzazz.

Sisters of the Forsaken Stars (Our Lady of Endless Worlds #2)Sisters of the Forsaken Stars (Our Lady of Endless Worlds #2) by Lina Rather – 22 Feb (Tordotcom)

“We lit the spark, maybe we should be here for the flames.”

Not long ago, Earth’s colonies and space stations threw off the yoke of planet Earth’s tyrannical rule. Decades later, trouble is brewing in the Four Systems, and Old Earth is flexing its power in a bid to regain control over its lost territories.

The Order of Saint Rita—whose mission is to provide aid and mercy to those in need—bore witness to and defied Central Governance’s atrocities on the remote planet Phyosonga III. The sisters have been running ever since, staying under the radar while still trying to honor their calling.

Despite the sisters’ secrecy, the story of their defiance is spreading like wildfire, spearheaded by a growing anti-Earth religious movement calling for revolution. Faced with staying silent or speaking up, the Order of Saint Rita must decide the role they will play—and what hand they will have—in reshaping the galaxy.

The Misfit SoldierThe Misfit Soldier by Michael Mammay – 22 Feb (Harper Voyager)

Sergeant Gastovsky–Gas to everyone but his superior officers–never wanted to be a soldier. Far from it. But when a con goes wrong and he needs a place to lay low for a while, he finds himself wearing the power armor of the augmented infantry.

After three years on a six-year contract, Gas has found his groove running low-level cons and various illegal activities that make him good money on the side. He’s the guy who can get you what you need. But he’s always had his eye out for a big score–the one that might set him up for life after the military.

When one of his soldiers is left behind after a seemingly pointless battle, Gas sees his chance. He assembles a team of misfit soldiers that would push the term “ragtag” to its limits for a big con that leads them on a daring behind-the-lines mission, pitting him not only against enemy soldiers but against the top brass of his own organization.

If he pulls this off, not only will he save his squadmate, he might just become the legend he’s always considered himself. He might also change the way the entire galaxy looks at this war. But for any of that to happen, he has to live through this insane plan.

And charm rarely stops bullets.

Science Fiction Romance

Hunt the Stars (Starlight's Shadow #1)Hunt the Stars (Starlight’s Shadow #1) by Jessie Mihalik – 1 Feb (Harper Voyager)

Octavia Zarola would do anything to keep her tiny, close-knit bounty hunting crew together—even if it means accepting a job from Torran Fletcher, a ruthless former general and her sworn enemy. When Torran offers her enough credits to not only keep her crew afloat but also hire someone to fix her ship, Tavi knows that she can’t refuse—no matter how much she’d like to.

With so much money on the line, Torran and his crew insist on joining the hunt. Tavi reluctantly agrees because while the handsome, stoic leader pushes all of her buttons—for both anger and desire—she’s endured worse, and the massive bonus payment he’s promised for a completed job is reason enough to shut up and deal.

But when they uncover a deeper plot that threatens the delicate peace between humans and Valoffs, Tavi suspects that Torran has been using her as the impetus for a new war. With the fate of her crew balanced on a knife’s edge, Tavi must decide where her loyalties lie—with the quiet Valoff who’s been lying to her, or with the human leaders who left her squad to die on the battlefield. And this time, she’s put her heart on the line.

Operation Sunset (The Drift- Nova Force #5)Operation Sunset (The Drift: Nova Force #5) by Susan Hayes – 1 Feb (Black Scroll Publications)

She’s the woman he can’t forget… and the one he can never have.

Three years ago, Crispen met the woman of his dreams, only to discover they were about to be co-workers, too. Aria had rules against mixing business and pleasure, so he’d taken the next best option and become her best friend… until he had to make a decision that changed the course of both their lives.

Now, what’s left of their friendship will be tested. They’re going undercover to take down one of Nova Force’s greatest enemies, and they’ll have no one to rely on but each other.

She thought she couldn’t have it all. Had she been wrong?

Aria lost more than her leg in the explosion that nearly ended her career. She’s still counting the costs, but she’s afraid that at the top of the list is the only man who got past her walls and into her heart—Crispen.

Their new assignment puts them in enemy territory with dubious intel, no backup, and a plan that didn’t survive first contact with reality. To finish their mission, they’ll have to risk more than their lives… they’ll have to put their hearts in the line of fire.

Urban Fantasy

Last ExitLast Exit by Max Gladstone – 22 Feb (Tor Books)

Ten years ago, Zelda led a band of merry adventurers whose knacks let them travel to alternate realities and battle the black rot that threatened to unmake each world. Zelda was the warrior; Ish could locate people anywhere; Ramon always knew what path to take; Sarah could turn catastrophe aside. Keeping them all connected: Sal, Zelda’s lover and the group’s heart.

Until their final, failed mission, when Sal was lost. When they all fell apart.

Ten years on, Ish, Ramon, and Sarah are happy and successful. Zelda is alone, always traveling, destroying rot throughout the US.

When it boils through the crack in the Liberty Bell, the rot gives Zelda proof that Sal is alive, trapped somewhere in the alts.

Zelda’s getting the band back together—plus Sal’s young cousin June, who has a knack none of them have ever seen before.

As relationships rekindle, the friends begin to believe they can find Sal and heal all the worlds. It’s not going to be easy, but they’ve faced worse before.

But things have changed, out there in the alts. And in everyone’s hearts.

Fated- Magiford Supernatural City (Pack of Dawn and Destiny #3)Fated: Magiford Supernatural City (Pack of Dawn and Destiny #3) by K.M. Shea – 22 Feb (Self)
BP Note: Blurb not yet released.

The monthly Must Have list is a compilation of the upcoming release titles that we, The Book Pushers, just can’t wait to get our hands on. Don’t see a title you’re excited about listed here? Add it to the comments section below. Let us know what you’re looking forward to!

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