Chosen by Sarah MacLean for The Washington Post:
  1. Forbidden, by Beverly Jenkins (Avon; paperback, $7.99)
    It’s possible that no one sets the scene for romance better than Beverly Jenkins, in part because her love stories evolve in a time and place that often feels bleak and without hope: She writes African American romance stories of the Civil War and Reconstruction eras. Her latest begins with Union soldier Rhine Fontaine standing in the ashes of the Georgia plantation house where he was born a slave, son to a brutal master.
  2. "Clockwork Heart," by Heidi Cullinan (Samhain; paperback, $15.99)
    Cullinan deftly builds an alternate history, where Napoleon did not lose his wars to Britain and Russia. Cornelius Stevens is the bastard son of the leader of the French military, and a pacifist, as well as a “tinker-surgeon,” specializing in mechanical body parts that give wounded soldiers a second chance at life. When he discovers Austrian soldier Johann at near death, he decides to work his magic on the other man by installing a clockwork heart.
  3. "Duke of My Heart," by Kelly Bowen (Forever; paperback, $5.99)
    Ivory Moore is a Regency-era fixer — think Olivia Pope in a corset. She's brought into one of London’s most glamorous homes to hide the body of a popular (and married) earl, only to discover that the woman who had been in flagrante with the deceased was not his countess.