Valentine's Day may be over, but that doesn't mean you can't keep the love flowing.
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For better or worse, February brings a crop of articles and coverage on the romance genre.

But here at EW, we love love year-round, and our latest Hot Stuff column is ready to keep the love going despite the fact that Valentine's Day has come and gone.

From journeys of personal discovery aided by an unexpected love interest to historical adventures, December, January, and February brought plenty of new romance novels to turn up the heat and keep it going through those six more weeks of winter. Here are five of our favorites.

Georgie All Along by Kate Clayborn
Credit: Kensington

Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn

It's hard to describe a Kate Clayborn novel. There's a lived-in-ness to them, a poignant sense of reality and melancholy that makes them a study in how to craft a portrait of wistful, bittersweet happy endings. Clayborn's latest, Georgie, All Along, is no exception. Georgie Mulcahy has never really known what she wants out of life β€” and when an unexpected upheaval ends her job in Los Angeles, sending her back to her hometown on the East Coast, she's confronted with the enormity of that question. Rediscovering a diary full of goals that she wrote as a teenager, she decides she'll complete the long abandoned list in the hope it'll give her a new sense of direction. But things are further complicated when she ends up with the town troublemaker and recluse, Levi Fanning, as her unexpected roommate. Georgie and Levi are both deeply wounded creatures, people shaped by the disappointments and low expectations heaped upon them by authority figures in their youth. Levi is the stuff of romance hero dreams, a gruff, laconic figure whose grouchy exterior conceals his vulnerable heart. Georgie is, in short, a mess. A lovable disaster of a person, striving to make sense of life's biggest questions. But the two decide to unpack their mess together, gingerly finding a path toward redemption and healing in each other's company. Clayborn's writing has a latent emotionality that, paired with her lyrical pen, results in deeply romantic storytelling in the most mundane of circumstances. She turns simple brownstones and cluttered farmhouses into lush spaces, loaded with meaning. Georgie, All Along is an ode to figuring it out as we go along and realizing it's okay to change your mind. It's a novel that thrives in uncertainty and the notion that it's the people we cherish most, that walk our path alongside us, that matter far more than the desired destination. There's something to be said for the simplicity of Clayborn's settings and storytelling, the fact that her stakes are generally as something as small (and simultaneously huge) as figuring out where we go from here. Her romantic musings find the beauty and magic in life's details, reminding us that it's in finding our way through the not knowing that we discover the softest whispers of our hearts.

Heat Rating: πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯

Grade: A+

For Her Consideration by Amy Spalding
Credit: Kensington

For Her Consideration by Amy Spalding

After delighting with a series of YA novels, Amy Spalding makes her adult fiction debut with this heartfelt, intoxicating romance. Following a devastating break-up three years prior, Nina Rice has made her life as small as possible, closing herself off from her friends, abandoning her dreams of writing for television, and laying low in her aunt's suburban condo. But when her agency assistant job brings her into contact with rising queer actress Ari Fox, Nina finds herself thrust back into feelings and a life she thought she'd lost forever. Nina's ex did a number on her, convincing her she would inevitably bring misery to any person who comes into contact with her. Though things with Ari verge on perfection and she's thrilled to have her friends back, she can't help but wait for the other shoe to drop. It's fairly rare for Los Angeles (and I truly mean L.A. β€” not just a movie set or red carpet) to shine as a romantic city, but Spalding paints a loving ode to the City of Angels. The specificity with which she conjures neighborhoods and very real eateries threads a poignant sense of authenticity throughout the story. Ari is a dream, a woman who truly knows and owns who she is, naysayers be damned. It's exactly what Nina needs, if only she can quiet the voices in her own head. Spalding doesn't shy away from the very real damage that emotional abuse and trauma can leave a person with, but in turn, she offers up a tribute to found family, deep bonds of friendship, and embracing love and all of its mess wholeheartedly.Β 

Heat Rating: πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯

Grade: A

A Wicked Game by Kate Bateman
Credit: St. Martin's Paperbacks

A Wicked Game by Kate Bateman

Kate Bateman continues her Ruthless Rivals series with this engrossing, sparkling tale of fiercely independent cartographer Harriet Montgomery and naval Captain Morgan Davies. Harriet and Morgan have been a thorn in each other's sides since childhood, but when Morgan returns after being shipwrecked and imprisoned he has two goals β€” 1) find the mapmaker who resulted in his suffering and 2) collect on the bet he made with Harriet before he left to bestow three kisses on her if he returned in one piece. But Morgan isn't content with three mere pecks. Instead, he opts for a more wicked approach, daring to push Harriet to offer kisses other places than her lips. All while the two risk danger at the hands of an enemy from Morgan's seafaring days. Harriet is witty and ribald, while Morgan is devastatingly roguish and charming. The gradual escalation of their kiss bet is playful and outright scorching by the time it reaches its climax. Bateman pairs crackling banter with Harriet and Morgan's twinkling hijinks for a romp of the highest order. A Wicked Game is the type of book designed to accompany a glass of wine and a bubble bath β€” frothy, unputdownable escapism that will make your toes curl and your heart sing.

Heat Rating: πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯

Grade: A

Exes and O's by Amy Lea
Credit: Berkley

Exes & O's by Amy Lea

Amy Lea continues her charming rom-com series about social media professionals with this entry about book influencer Tara Chen. As a lover of romance novels, Tara is obsessed with finding The One and checking off some tropes while she's at it. So, when she decides to facilitate her own second-chance romance by looking up all of her exes, it only makes sense to chronicle her experiences via her social channels. But what she doesn't expect is for her new roommate, hunky firefighter Trevor Metcalfe, to end up helping her. The only trouble is that Tara can't help falling for Trevor once they start spending time together. Despite his tidy ways and reluctance to open up to her, the two forge an unexpected connection. Lea knows how to make sure her rom-com is equal parts romantic and comedy, and there's an abundance of hilarity in Tara's reunions with her exes. But it's also frank about her hopeless romantic tendencies and accusations she's endured that reading romance has given her unrealistic expectations. Tara has been told repeatedly that she's too much, and it takes Trevor appreciating her just as she is to realize that she deserves the things she's yearned for all along. Lea can lean a little too hard into the social influencer of it all β€” it's fairly cringe-worthy that Tara shares the gory details of her dates and her romance with Trevor on her social pages and that such oversharing is treated as normal. It feels a bit try-hard in its desire to make its Bookstagram/BookTok heroine soooo perky and relatable, even when she's making questionable choices. But underneath that is a beautiful (and delightfully funny) story about love not being about tropes or finding The One, but instead finding the person with whom you can most be yourself.

Heat Rating: πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯

Grade: B+

Never Cross a Highlander by Lisa Rayne
Credit: Entangled: Amara

Never Cross a Highlander by Lisa Rayne

Lisa Rayne plunges readers into a high-stakes romantic adventure across the Scottish Highlands with the first in her new Shadow Lairds series. Ailsa Connery has endured three long years enslaved at Stirling Castle. But when a gathering of the clans presents her with an opportunity to escape, she seizes it. Her plans are disrupted when Kallum MacNeill (accidentally) kidnaps her. In addition to his reputation as a fearsome warrior, he has a secret identity as The Shepherd, a man who frees enslaved captives across Scotland. Once he and Ailsa are together, he's left with no choice but to help her return to her clan to protect his secret. But Ailsa's feisty nature and Kallum's fierce protectiveness clash and crackle as they make their way back to MacNeill lands and try to uncover the truth of Ailsa's enslavement. Rayne writes with a richness that captures the environment and complex history of the Highland clans. Imagining a place for Black Highlanders in prominent positions, she presents an obscured history, probing questions of belonging, race, and identity. Ailsa and Kallum are well-matched; both firebrands with easily ignitable tempers that lead to physical tussles, winking banter, and crackling sex. Rayne has a gift for crafting setting with a vibrant specificity that casts her characters against a thrilling backdrop. She joins a growing crop of authors doing the work to make historical romance more reflective of the real world, stories unafraid to acknowledge the realities of life for people of color in the past. But it's a dose of realism that makes the escapism of the genre and the hard-earned joy all the sweeter and sexier.

Heat Rating: πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯

Grade: B+

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