It’s a new year and I have some new books to share with you from two of my favorite authors!

The first one is Protecting Her Heart by Nancy Campbell Allen. This is the third book in her Victorian mystery romance series and it was well worth the wait. Charlotte Duvall has recently graduated from medical school in the United States. She receives a cryptic letter from her father, telling her that her mother’s death may not have been the accident everyone believes. Before she can speak to him in person, however, he dies. After the funeral, Charlotte is determined to look into her mother’s death—but someone is just as anxious to make sure she doesn’t. With the help of her friend John Ellis, who is the director of London’s police force, she follows the few clues that she has, but danger seems to lurk around every corner. John and Charlotte work closely together to solve the mystery, and they soon start to see each other in a new light. But with the odds stacked against them, can they take a chance on love?

This book has everything you want in a mystery romance. Intrigue and danger, villains and heroes. I stayed up until one in the morning just to see who the murderer was! And John and Charlotte’s relationship is a slow, delicious burn as they build on the friendship they’ve always had. There is plenty of swoon and sigh-worthy kisses expertly woven in between the solving of a mystery with an abundance of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. And while this book can be read standalone, there are several supporting characters from previous books that you will want to know just so you can see the continuation of their story in this book. Protecting Her Heart is definitely one you’ll put on your keeper shelf.

Protecting Her Heart by Nancy Campbell Allen, published by Shadow Mountain, 276 pages available in ebook, paperback, and audio

The second book I’d like to recommend is The Lily of Ludgate Hill by Mimi Matthews.

Lady Anne Deveril is fiercely loyal and won’t hesitate to make a deal with the devil if it means she can help one of her closest friends. All she needs is for Felix Hartford to do one simple thing for her, but of course he has a condition—which includes attending a house party. Being near him again reminds her of how much history is between them, but she has given up on love—or so she thought. Sometimes, the heart has other plans.

This book is so full of depth and emotion, especially highlighting how grief can change our life’s path. Anne and Felix are both dealing with loss—loss of family, loss of hopes, loss of what could or should have been. This emotional layer added so much perspective to the characters and the romance. Since our hero and heroine stopped seeing each other, they have become enemies, which adds another obstacle to their already complicated relationship. Yet, the author shows the thread of humor and wit that still bonds them together and there is even a scene-stealing kitten. I loved seeing Felix’s motivations and how he handles not only his family, but Anne’s as well. And Anne’s strength as she puts everyone else’s needs before her own is admirable, though sometimes maddening. Readers will easily relate to her and want her to find her happily-ever-after. The author has put together a stellar cast and the quirky secondary characters are an integral part of the story. They all contribute to Felix and Anne’s journey and will pull the reader in to experience the ups and downs of life right along with them. This second chance romance will have readers feeling all the feels from laughter to tears as we get lost in this wonderfully realistic world Ms. Matthews has created. The Lily of Ludgate Hill releases on Jan. 16 and is the third in the Belles of London series. You can start with this story, but you definitely wouldn’t want to miss out on the first two.

The Lily of Ludgate Hall by Mimi Matthews, published by Berkley, 428 pages, available in ebook, paperback, and audio.

I’m so excited that 2024 is off to a good “reading” start and am really looking forward to some great books this year. I usually make a yearly reading goal for myself, and I’m still trying to decide on a number. Do you make reading goals? How many books do you plan to read?

After winning $10 in a second-grade writing contest, Julie Coulter Bellon knew she wanted to be a published author someday. That dream came true and she is now an award-winning author of thirty books. She is also a podcast host for Authors Off the Page and Book Chat with Julie