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The Romance Authors Heating Up Colorado’s Literary Landscape

Forget Tinder: Find love this Valentine's Day in the pages of these novels.

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Romance novels have a reputation for being cheesy and explicit, but they’re not all ripped bodices and Fabio. In fact, Colorado’s (surprisingly prolific) authors come up with engaging storylines in a number of genres that’ll keep you reading well past the sexy parts.

If you like murder mysteries…

The seven-book Elkridge series injects the intrigue of Sue Grafton novels—drug trafficking, opioid overdoses, etc.—into a fictional yet authentic Colorado town. Author Lyz Kelley, a fifth-generation Coloradan, went so far as to interview an FBI special agent and a Douglas County Sheriff’s Office deputy to ensure her plots are realistic. “The FBI agent was so impressed with my extensive research that he permitted me to use his name in my books,” she says, “as long as I made his character good-looking.”

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Next Up: Blinded, the series’ first novel, will be released as an audiobook this month.

If you like fantasy…

The fairy clans in The Folk series evoke the wizards and witches of Harry Potter in their efforts to remain hidden from the nonmagical world. Writer Meg Benjamin’s fantastical characters, though, reside in the Rocky Mountains instead of the United Kingdom. And outside of their specific powers (the Barbegazi cast freezing spells, while the Seelies can blast others into the air), they behave essentially like humans, even when they get, um, excited.

Next Up: The Folk’s third book, Found, is slated for publication on February 27.

If you like Fifty Shades of Grey

Trade one Steele (Anastasia) for three Steels (Talon, Jonah, and Ryan). New York Times–bestselling author Helen Hardt’s The Steel Brothers Saga features a trio of siblings who are just as swoon-worthy and have more compelling backstories. (Talon was abducted and abused as a child, an idea inspired by a scene in the drama Mystic River.) Hardt actually turned to erotic romance because the intimate moments give her a way to (literally and figuratively) flesh out her protagonists.

Next Up: The 10th installment, Breathless, is due out in June.

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