Lily wants nothing more than to become an editor in children’s fiction, but she finds herself stuck in nonfiction. Lily finds solace when she ends up corresponding with her favorite fantasy author. She thinks their friendship is something special until he ghosts her.
When Lily meets her new neighbor Nick, she’s unexpectedly drawn to him. But Nick is keeping a secret from her. He’s the fantasy author she was corresponding with. He has his reasons for using a pen name and keeping people from getting to close. But how long will he hide this secret from her before it escalate out of control?
I am so excited to start reading The Neighbor Favor by Kristina Forest. Girl next door + friends to lovers + love interests who are in the book publishing world and they send anonymous letters to one another…swoon!
In this heart-fluttering romance by Kristina Forest, a shy bookworm enlists her charming neighbor to help her score a date, not knowing he’s the obscure author she’s been corresponding with.
Shy, bookish, and admittedly awkward, Lily Greene has always felt inadequate compared to the rest of her accomplished family, who strive for Black excellence. She dreams of becoming an editor of children’s books but has been frustratingly stuck in the nonfiction division for years without a promotion in sight. Lily finds escapism in her correspondences with her favorite fantasy author, and what begins as two lonely people connecting over e-mail turns into a tentative friendship and possibly something else Lily won’t let herself entertain–until he ghosts her.
Months later, still crushed but determined to take charge of her life, Lily seeks a date to her sister’s wedding. And the perfect person to help her is Nick Brown, her charming, attractive new neighbor, whom she feels drawn to for unexplainable reasons. Little does she know that Nick is an author–her favorite fantasy author.
Nick, who has his reasons for using a pen name and for pushing people away, soon realizes that the beautiful, quiet woman from down the hall is the same Lily he fell in love with over e-mail months ago. Unwilling to complicate things even more between them, he agrees to set her up with someone else, though this simple favor between two neighbors is anything but–not when he can’t get her off his mind.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.
A couple who broke up months ago make a pact to pretend to still be together for their annual weeklong vacation with their best friends in this glittering and wise new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Emily Henry.
Harriet and Wyn have been the perfect couple since they met in college—they go together like salt and pepper, honey and tea, lobster and rolls. Except, now—for reasons they’re still not discussing—they don’t.
They broke up six months ago. And still haven’t told their best friends.
Which is how they find themselves sharing the largest bedroom at the Maine cottage that has been their friend group’s yearly getaway for the last decade. Their annual respite from the world, where for one vibrant, blue week they leave behind their daily lives; have copious amounts of cheese, wine, and seafood; and soak up the salty coastal air with the people who understand them most.
Only this year, Harriet and Wyn are lying through their teeth while trying not to notice how desperately they still want each other. Because the cottage is for sale and this is the last week they’ll all have together in this place. They can’t stand to break their friends’ hearts, and so they’ll play their parts. Harriet will be the driven surgical resident who never starts a fight, and Wyn will be the laid-back charmer who never lets the cracks show. It’s a flawless plan (if you look at it from a great distance and through a pair of sunscreen-smeared sunglasses). After years of being in love, how hard can it be to fake it for one week…in front of those who know you best?
In Happy Place you can expect to find: -angst…so much angst and longing -found family -evolution of friendships -fake relationship (kinda)
This book, ugh. I’m pretty sure I had tears in my eyes at like 10% of the book, but I wouldn’t expect anything less with Emily Henry. After being together for 8 years, Wyn and Harriet have decided to end their relationship and simultaneously call of their engagement. It’s been a hard 5 months since their breakup, but Harriet is set on moving on. Only one problem – neither Harriet or Wyn have told their core group of friends that their relationship is over. When Harriet realizes that Wyn will also be at the summer house in Maine that they vacation at every year, with their entire group of friends in the same spot, it gets super messy super fast. Wyn and Harriet decide to pretend like they’re still in their relationship for the sake of their friends. How long will these two be able to fake still being in love before they end up hurting each other again?
I LOVE a second chance romance and the angstier the better. Emily Henry definitely delivered with Happy Place 🥲. I loved the back and forth timeline with when Harriet met Wyn and their eventual pulling apart as a couple. The giddiness and butterflies you feel when a relationship first starts vs the bitterness and hurt when one ends – I felt both of these emotions so acutely 😭 I had tears streaming down my face so many times while reading this book.
I also loved the core group of friends and their relationships with one another. While they started off so carefree and fun (typically how it is in college), they got more complex as lives got busier, messier and took these friends to different parts of the country as well as different parts of their lives. This happens so often in real life – when you’re friends with someone and think you know them so well only to drift apart and think how well do I really know this person now?
Emily Henry has a way with words and so many sentences of Happy Place are highlighted on my tablet. I already can’t wait to go back and reread this lovely book 🥰
If angsty, swoony, second chance romance is your thing – add Happy Place to your tbr.
Ranking Emily Henry books (they’re all 5 stars) 1. People We Meet on Vacation 2. Book Lovers 3. Happy Place 4. Beach Read *subject to change at any moment
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.
It’s hard being the most popular girl on the ice planet. The alien men are falling all over themselves to impress me in the hopes that I’ll take them to my furs. But they don’t know my secrets – none of them do. And they don’t realize that behind my smile, I just wish they’d go away.
I don’t want any of them. I want someone else – someone with a gorgeous blue body, big horns, and the most intense gaze ever. He’s the only one that knows the truth. Maybe with him, I can work through my fears of the past…. but I’m pretty sure he wants more than just friendship.
He wants forever, and I’m not sure I can give it.
I was excited to dive back into our favorite blue aliens in Barbarian’s Prize. This book picks up right where the last book leaves us and this time we get Tiffany and Salukh’s story. Tiffany has had some trauma when the aliens abducted her before landing on Not-Hoth. She’s not keen on male attention and doesn’t really care that all of the males want to resonate with her. She doesn’t want to resonate with any of them and doesn’t want that choice taken away from her.
Salukh sees Tiffany’s hesitation and is always giving her a wide berth. He knows that she spooks easily, but he feels it in his gut that she is his mate. When Tiffany finds away to keep the other males away from her, she asks Salukh to help her practice being intimate once again. Will Salukh be able to help her even though she doesn’t want to resonate or mate with anyone, including him?
While I enjoyed Salukh and Tiffany’s story, I wasn’t prepared for the emotional trauma that Tiffany was facing after her assault/rape with the aliens on the ship. This book was definitely a lot more serious compared the previous others before. The Bachelor-ish side story wasn’t a favorite, but I still enjoyed the interactions with everyone from previous books.
I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series!
I study my rows of planted seeds, hoping for a sprig here or there. Right now, there is nothing, just an upraised row in the snow where the dirt was piled back onto them. Frustrated, I move down the row I’ve marked with a few sticks, but there’s nothing to be seen. Surely plants here can’t be that different from plants on Earth, can they? The snow is throwing me off, but it’s still water, and plants need water to grow. I shove my fingers into my glove and then kneel near one of the small mounds, digging. There has to be something. If there’s even a hint of a sprout on one of my seeds, I’ll have hope.
I dig down maybe a foot into the snow and stop when I see a hint of pink threading through the white. Sure enough, one of my seeds has sprouted and is pushing its way through the snow. It’s working! Excited, I pile the snow back on top with a pat and get to my feet. Wait until I tell Salukh!
As if my thoughts have summoned him, a familiar male silhouette appears on the ridge, burdened by a kill. He seems to be walking strangely, and I dust the snow off my hands and
surge forward. Is he hurt? He’s moving slow. For a moment I almost think it’s one of the elders, but there’s no mistaking the way Salukh’s horns curve up at the ends, or his long fluttering hair. He drags a dead dvisti behind him and cradles one arm against his chest, and my heart hammers. Does he need the healer? Maylak’s at the other cave, though, and it’s at least a half a day’s journey to get to her. “Salukh, are you all right?” I call as I push through the snow to get to his side. “Can I help?” “You can help,” he agrees, and as I get to his side, he thrusts a cloak-covered bundle into my arms. “Cursed thing
bit me all the way here.”
I blink in surprise as the bundle tries to leap from my arms and bleats angrily. I tighten my grip on it and stare at the hunter. “What is this?”
“A dvisti kit. The mother was lame and so she became fod- der for my spear. But I could not kill the young one. I brought it for you.”
“Yes, you.” He drops the spear on the ground, letting his kill tumble into the snow, and then rotates one big arm, rub- bing sore muscles. “Ah, that feels good.”
I try not to watch as he rubs one big blue bicep, but . . . mercy. Those are big biceps. Hard, too. The creature in my hands wriggles, and my attention turns back to it. “I . . . Do you guys even do pets?”
“Sessah has a two-teeth he feeds back at the main cave.” “And no one tries to eat it for dinner?” I don’t want to get attached to something only to come home and find someone roasting my pet.”
“I will not allow them to touch it.” His words are so sure, so bold.
I feel a weird surge of warmth and smile at him.
He reaches forward to uncover the creature’s head, and then two big, blue, khui-lit eyes are gazing at me. The head is tiny, a bit like a fawn, but covered in long, crazy fur like a sheepdog. It bleats angrily at me.
And I laugh because it’s so ridiculous looking and cute at the same time. It’s all nose and googly eyes and shaggy hair. “I love it.”
He gives a masculine grunt. “I am glad it pleases you.” “It’s sweet of you to think of me,” I admit. I’m endlessly
showered with useful things by the other guys, but this is the first time someone’s thought to give me something completely . . . frivolous. And a pet truly is frivolous in a setting like this, but I really love it, and I love that Salukh was so thoughtful. “Thank you.”
His gaze burns into mine. “I have been thinking upon your words, Tee-fah-nee.”
I shiver. The way he says my name always makes me think he’s mentally caressing each syllable, and it makes me feel things that I thought were long gone.
He steps forward and he doesn’t touch me, though he is close enough that our faces could practically press together if we were the same height. As it is, I’m staring at a lot of broad, velvety-blue pectorals. The baby dvisti in my arms snaps at a bit of fringe on his vest and begins to chew on it.
I suddenly feel flushed and overheated despite the ever- present ice. “My words?”
“You wish to practice in the furs.” His intense look pins me in place. “I wish to be the male you practice with.”
Okay first of all, yes I realize that this series was originally published in 2011 and I am so so so late to the game. But to be fair – it’s been all over my bookstagram and booktok feeds lately. I picked up the series on a whim when my library hold came through. And even then, I was thinking meh I should just return it and read it some other time (lol!). I also realzied that Hoopla has the audiobooks so I figured I’d listen to the books on my runs and if I liked the book I could check out the rest from the library…
Yeah I was obsessed with the writing style, the dystopian setting and the main characters. Juliette was obviously the most complex character, but I loved her relationship with Adam and oddly even found Warner intriguing but yeah also an asshole in Shatter Me.
**MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD**
And then I moved on to Unravel Me and … phew. At this point it’s a given that if there’s angst and major swooning involved I will most likely LOVE the book. There was heaps and heaps of angst and longing in Unravel Me. Why am I not surprised that I love this setting? It’s happened time and time again and I seriously love it every time – in the ACOTAR series, in the From Blood and Ash series…I love an arc with a morally grey hero who is an asshole but underneath has a heart of gold. It seems as though Aaron Warner was definitely the blueprint for this type of character.
Ignite Me was even somehow more angstier (is that a word?) than Unravel Me. I had so many conflicting emotions and had butterflies in my stomach during so many scenes. I know who I wanted as end game and it was always Warner + Juliette and Tahereh Mafi did not make their journey easy. But their banter, their chemistry and their understanding of one another was pure perfection!
The last 3 books of the series weren’t quite as strong as the first three. But still Tahereh was able to capture me with all the angst and backstory. The fact that Warner knew Ella his whole life and his father kept separating them??? Argh I hated Anderson so much.
What I did like about the last 3 books was the varying points of view that we got. Where books one to three were mainly told from Juliette’s point of view (except for the novellas), I really liked getting Warner and Kenji’s points of view. And that last novella Believe Me (sobbing as I’m writing this review) – ugh it was just pure perfection. Do I want more time with Aaron and Juliette? always, but the way it was wrapped up was perfect.
Will I ever be able to move on from this series? I’m in such a book slump and keep rereading my favorite parts of each and every book. What an amazing series. I can’t wait to read more from Tahereh Mafi!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.
Sparks fly when a romance novelist and a documentary filmmaker join forces to craft the perfect Hollywood love story and take both of their careers to the next level—but only if they can keep the chemistry between them from taking the whole thing off script.
Felicity “Fizzy” Chen is lost. Sure, she’s got an incredible career as a beloved romance novelist with a slew of bestsellers under her belt, but when she’s asked to give a commencement address, it hits her: she hasn’t been practicing what she’s preached.
Fizzy hasn’t ever really been in love. Lust? Definitely. But that swoon-worthy, can’t-stop-thinking-about-him, all-encompassing feeling? Nope. Nothing. What happens when the optimism she’s spent her career encouraging in readers starts to feel like a lie?
Connor Prince, documentary filmmaker and single father, loves his work in large part because it allows him to live near his daughter. But when his profit-minded boss orders him to create a reality TV show, putting his job on the line, Connor is out of his element. Desperate to find his romantic lead, a chance run-in with an exasperated Fizzy offers Connor the perfect solution. What if he could show the queen of romance herself falling head-over-heels for all the world to see? Fizzy gives him a hard pass—unless he agrees to her list of demands. When he says yes, and production on The True Love Experiment begins, Connor wonders if that perfect match will ever be in the cue cards for him, too.
The True Love Experiment is the book fans have been waiting for ever since Fizzy’s debut in The Soulmate Equation. But when the lights come on and all eyes are on her, it turns out the happily ever after Fizzy had all but given up on might lie just behind the camera.
I watched so many Bachelor and Bachelorette shows growing up, that I’m kinda over them at this point. But put them in a rom-com and I am all over them! This is definitely the case with The True Love Experiment.
We first meet Fizzy in The Soulmate Equation where she hangs out a lot with her bestie Jess. She’s a super fun and bubbly character who is a romance author and has a fun social/dating life. Fast forward a bit and Fizzy is struggling with not only her romantic life, but also writing her next romance. She’s lost her muse and is having a hard time getting her words down.
Connor Prince is a documentary filmmaker and single father. He’s not big on reality types of TV shows, but his boss tells him the network needs him to come up with something big. When Connor realizes that his ex-wife’s favorite romance author is Felicity Chen aka Fizzy -a beautiful woman who Connor recently saw at a bar – Connor immediately realizes this is who he wants for the reality show. But their first encounter doesn’t exactly end on good terms. Felicity thinks Connor is a bit of a douche-bag and immediately says no to the show, unless Connor agrees to her very specific terms. When Connor says yes, Fizzy realizes this could be fun and she could potentially find her soulmate. The more these two work together, the more they realize that their chemistry seems to be flaring offset while the rest of the contestants wonder who Fizzy will end up picking.
Recent Christina Lauren books have been hit and miss for me. But The True Love Experiment was a definite YES. I loved Fizzy’s character so much, which isn’t a surprise because I also loved her in The Soulmate Equation. She’s fun, bubbly and appears to be so carefree. It’s only when we get to know her that we realize she has insecurities and vulnerabilities too. The fact that she’s a romance author is *chefs kiss*. I loved those passages when she talks about how so many people look down upon the genre, and for what? I feel her vulnerabilities so much – not only with her writing, but with her family too.
Here am I am, proven a liar again when I say I don’t like single parent romances. Because Connor is so lovely and so caring with his daughter. He’s not perfect, and I love that he owns up to his past as ugly as it might be. His relationship with his daughter and his ex-wife were honestly always so fun and added a lot to the story.
The True Love Experiment had me laughing out loud, but also pulling on my heart strings. There were some beautiful angsty moments where I had tears rolling down my eyes. I just wanted Fizzy and Connor to be happy together. If you’re looking for a rom-com with great banter, humor and a spicy romance I highly recommend The True Love Experiment.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author.
Two childhood friends. Two broken hearts. One impromptu road trip to get away from everything. That’s all this was supposed to be. Afterall, I’ve been living in the friend zone for years now.
But hockey heartthrob Jasper Gervais isn’t looking at me like a friend anymore. And he isn’t touching me like one either.
To his fans, he’s the handsome, talented athlete on TV. But to me he’s still the lost boy with sad eyes and a heart of gold.
The man I’ve loved in secret for years.
So when my life falls apart on my wedding day, it only makes sense that he’s the one to swoop in and save me. And when his world comes crashing down around him, I’m there to return the favor.
But the more time we spend alone, the more Jasper doesn’t feel like a friend at all. He feels like everything I’ve ever wanted and thought I could never have.
Our feelings aren’t straight forward though. They twist and turn around the pain of his past and the reality of my present.
Jasper Gervais acts like he wants me.
But after years of turning me away, he’s going to need to prove it.
in Powerless expect to find: -childhood friends to lovers -angst & pining -🔥🔥🔥 -age-gap -sports romance -sweet nicknames (he calls her Sunny 😍)
Jasper and Sloane have been in each others orbits since they were kids. They’ve known each other for the better part of two decades and have seen each other at their best and their worst. So when Sloane’s wedding is fast approaching, Jasper doesn’t know exactly what to feel. He’s not too keen on Sloane’s fiancée and doesn’t think she’s all that happy. And that’s all Jasper has ever wanted for Sloane – to be happy. So when Sloane’s life comes crashing down on her wedding day, it’s Jasper who saves her. Soon the two of them are on a road trip and their feelings are all coming to the surface. Will they shy away from them or face them head on?
I have been wanting Jasper’s story since he was first introduced in the Chestnut Spring series. He’s always been a bit quiet and reserved and we get to understand why in Powerless. Jasper has a lot of trauma from his past relationship with his family and Sloane has always been there for Jasper. Never one to push him, but always there to offer him comfort. So when Sloane needs that same comfort, Jasper is willing to be that rock for her.
Sloane is tired of everyone telling her what to do – especially her father. Her life as a ballerina, her upbringing and even her relationship with her fiancée have all been orchestrated for her and she’s finally had enough. Sloane is finding a way to find her voice and that voice is telling her that Jasper is the one for her, but she needs more than just longing from her side. Sloane wants to understand why Jasper never wanted to be with her when that’s all she’s ever wanted.
I loved so many aspects of this book. The longing and pining was evident from the first interaction between Sloane and Jasper. The push and pull in this slow burn was bringing out all the angst. Jasper was so swoony and Sloane was so fierce – fighting for what she wanted. Gah! I love these two and the world that Elsie Silver creates. I can’t wait to read whatever she writes next!
I also had an opportunity to listen to the audiobook of Powerless and really enjoyed it. Teddy Hamilton is one of my favorite narrators and he does such a good job portraying Jasper! I also loved CJ Bloom as Sloane! I could totally feel the tension between these two. Highly recommend the audiobook of Powerless.
In the third installment of The Secret Scientists of London, the ladies of Athena’s retreat are back including widowed Margaret Gault. Margaret has big ambitions – she wants to establish England’s first woman owned engineering firm. But life isn’t always easy for a woman and Margaret runs into many roadblocks including one Earl Grantham.
Margaret and Grantham knew each other once, many years ago. What happened to end their friendship? Will they be able to mend their broken relationship – especially when there are so many forces working against them?
You couldn’t design a better hero than the very eligible and extremely charming Earl Grantham. Unless, of course, you are Margaret Gault, who wants nothing to do with the man who broke her youthful heart.
Widowed and determined, Margaret Gault has returned to Athena’s Retreat and the welcoming arms of her fellow secret scientists with an ambitious plan in mind: to establish England’s first woman-owned engineering firm. But from the moment she sets foot in London her plans are threatened by greedy investors and–at literally every turn–the irritatingly attractive Earl Grantham, a man she can never forgive.
George Willis, the Earl Grantham, is thrilled that the woman he has loved since childhood has returned to London. Not as thrilling, however, is her decision to undertake an engineering commission from his political archnemesis. When Margaret’s future and Grantham’s parliamentary reforms come into conflict, Grantham must use every ounce of charm he possesses–along with his stunning good looks and flawless physique, of course–to win Margaret over to his cause.
Facing obstacles seemingly too large to dismantle, will Grantham and Margaret remain forever disconnected or can they find a way to bridge their differences, rekindle the passion of their youth, and construct a love built to last?
A LOVE BY DESIGN by Elizabeth Everett
Berkley Romance Trade Paperback Original | On sale January 17, 2023
Maggie had returned.
Of course, she was now known as Madame Margaret Gault.
Try as he might, Grantham could never twist his tongue around the name.
Almost his whole life, he’d called her Maggie.
From upside down, he watched as she turned the corner of the carriage house, the wind unfurling the hem of her simple bronze pelisse. A brown capelet hung about her shoulders, and a matching muff hid her hands. Catching sight of him, she paused, tilting her head so he caught a glimpse of lush auburn curls peeking out from beneath her tea-colored bonnet trimmed with bright red berries. Margaret’s fair skin showed no hint of the freckles that had once plagued her every summer, and thick brown lashes shielded her hazel eyes.
She was unusually tall for a woman; nevertheless, she moved with effortless grace, and not even the blazing clash of colors adorning Violet next to her could detract from her beauty.
For she was a beauty, Margaret Gault. Once wild and graceless, she’d bloomed into a woman of elegant refinement.
A woman who was more than met the eye.
A woman who would rather feast on glass than give him the time of day.
For eleven years, the first day of summer meant Margaret would be waiting for him beneath the willow where they first met. She and Violet attended the Yorkshire Academy for the Education of Exceptional Young Women together. While Violet came home to her large, affectionate-and very loud-family, Margaret had no one waiting for her at home. Her father had died of a stroke when she was ten and her mother had little interest in Margaret’s whereabouts or well-being.
Violet and Grantham had been Margaret’s family. The three of them had been the best of friends until one hot afternoon when Margaret had smiled a certain way and the ground went out beneath his feet. A year later he was soldiering in Canada and Margaret lived in Paris and their summers together were nothing but a memory he pulled around himself like a blanket on cold lonely nights.
“Good afternoon, Grantham,” Violet greeted him, seemingly unaffected by his headfirst dive into her rosebushes. She wore a shocking yellow day dress beneath a burgundy velvet paletot and atop her head sat a garish blue bonnet topped with a life-sized stuffed parrot.
Swallowing a barrelful of curses, Grantham tried wriggling out of the bushes, every single thorn piercing his flesh a hundredfold as Margaret stared without saying a word.
“Ahem.” He cleared his throat as he managed to get to his feet despite being trapped in the center of one of the bushes. As he pulled a branch from his hair, a shower of wrinkled brown rose petals drifted down his shoulders. “You are especially . . . vibrant today, Violet. I brought this for Baby Georgie.”
He thrust the torn, dirtied rabbit at Violet, who received it with a bemused air. One of the buttons had come off and the silk was stained green and brown.
“Madame Gault,” he said, bowing to Margaret. “So lovely to see you again.”
No matter how strongly Grantham willed it, Margaret did not speak to him in return. Instead, she bent her knee a scant inch in a desultory curtsey, her lush mouth twisted like the clasp of a coin purse, no doubt to hold inside the names she was calling him in her head. He had a good idea what some of them were, considering he most likely had taught them to her.
Grantham hadn’t seen Margaret for thirteen years until their reunion-if one could call it that-a year and a half ago in the small parlor of Athena’s Retreat. He hadn’t exactly met the moment then, either-although to be fair, there’d been a hedgehog involved. The handful of times he encountered her since, she’d avoided meeting his eyes with her own, as though he were an inconsequential shadow cast by their past.
Someone to be dismissed.
Someone who had broken her heart and whom she would never forgive.
“See who is come to live in England for good.” Violet linked her arm with Margaret’s and beamed at her friend.
This was news.
When Margaret had come to stay at Athena’s Retreat a year and half ago to complete an engineering project for her father-in-law’s firm, Grantham had hoped she’d stay but she returned to Paris after three months. He’d asked Violet if Margaret might ever return, but Violet had doubted it.
“She’s one of the only women engineers in Europe with an excellent reputation. Why give up a dream hard fought to come back to England and fight all over again?” Violet had asked.
Something had changed, however, and now Margaret was home.
His heart leapt in his chest and the bitter orange flavor of hope flooded his mouth.
“Clean yourself up and come inside for tea,” Violet said to him now.
Margaret did not echo the invitation. Instead, she tightened her hold on a stylish carpet bag and accompanied Violet and Arthur into the building.
There are moments in life when the world shifts as though a door has opened somewhere out of sight. Whether a person runs toward that opened door or not depends on how fast they’re stuck in place. Grantham considered for a moment how painful it would be to get himself unstuck.
Although the tangle of branches in front of him twisted menacingly, he pulled a deep breath of resolution into his lungs alongside the scents of rosehips and crushed greenery. Gritting his teeth, he made his way through the thorns toward the open door.
Crazy Rich Asians + Gossip Girl + Devil Wears Parada come together in The Fraud Squad, the debut novel by Kyla Zhao. Samantha Song has longed to write for a high-society magazine, but she doesn’t quite have the clout to write for one…yet. When Samantha gets an opportunity to date the son of one of Singapore’s elite families she sees a chance to get in! She’ll just fake it until she makes it. But the more she fakes it the harder it becomes to stay true to herself. How much of a fraud is Samantha willing to be until she finally achieves her dream? How much of herself is she willing to lose along the way?
A working-class woman who infiltrates Singapore’s high society to fulfill her dreams risks losing everything in the process—including herself—in this propulsive novel by debut author Kyla Zhao.
For as long as she can remember, Samantha Song has dreamed of writing for a high-society magazine—and she’d do anything to get there. But the constant struggle to help her mom make ends meet and her low social status cause her dream to feel like a distant fantasy.
Now Samantha finds herself working at a drab PR firm. Living vicariously through her wealthy coworker and friend, Anya Chen, is the closest she’ll get to her ideal life. Until she meets Timothy Kingston: the disillusioned son of one of Singapore’s elite families—and Samantha’s one chance at infiltrating the high-society world to which she desperately wants to belong.
To Samantha’s surprise, Timothy and Anya both agree to help her make a name for herself on Singapore’s socialite scene. But the borrowed designer clothes and plus-ones to every glamorous event can only get her so far. The rest is on Samantha, and she’s determined to impress the editor in chief of Singapore’s poshest magazine. But the deeper Samantha wades into this fraud, the more she fears being exposed—especially with a mysterious gossip columnist on the prowl for dirt—forcing her to reconcile her pretense with who she really is before she loses it all.
After nursing a broken heart – and broken engagement – powerful witch Nina is willing to try dating again. Her friends urge her to give dating apps a try and this is where she meets Morty Gutierrez – the non-binary co-owner of the Shamrock Cauldron. He is most definitely not a witch and not interested in Nina after their awkward and horrible first date.
When Morty begins to develop powers and Nina’s powers simultaneously grow stronger – these two realize that they are somehow bound to one another. They must figure out a way to break the bond between them. Yet at the same time, their attraction to one another grows – will they manage to break the bond without falling for each other?
An awkward first date leads to a sparkling romance between one of the most powerful witches in town and a magical newbie in this rom-com by Lana Harper, New York Times bestselling author of Payback’s a Witch.
Even though she won’t deny her love for pretty (and pricey) things, Nineve Blackmoore is almost painfully down-to-earth and sensible by Blackmoore standards. But after a year of nursing a broken heart inflicted by the fiancée who all but ditched her at the altar, the powerful witch is sick of feeling low and is ready to try something drastically different: a dating app.
At her best friend’s urging, Nina goes on a date with Morty Gutierrez, the nonbinary, offbeat soul of spontaneity and co-owner of the Shamrock Cauldron. Their date goes about as well as can be expected of most online dates—awkward and terrible. To make matters worse, once Morty discovers Nina’s last name, he’s far from a fan; it turns out that the Blackmoores have been bullishly trying to buy the Shamrock out from under Morty and his family.
But when Morty begins developing magical powers—something that usually only happens to committed romantic partners once they officially join a founding family—at the same time that Nina’s own magic surges beyond her control, Nina must manage Morty’s rude awakening to the hidden magical world, uncover its cause, and face the intensity of their own burgeoning connection. But what happens when that connection is tied to Nina’s power surge, a power she’s finding nearly as addictive as Morty’s presence in her life?
BACK IN A SPELL by Lana Harper
Berkley Romance Trade Paperback Original | On Sale January 3, 2023
Chapter One Let It Snow
I’ve never been what one might call a winter person.
Witches are supposed to feel naturally aligned with the Wheel of the Year, receptive to the charms of every season-and nowhere is that easier than in Thistle Grove, where every type of weather is utterly and gorgeously flamboyant, the most extravagant cosplay version of what it might look like anywhere else. In theory, I could appreciate the extremeness of its contrasts; all that diamond-faceted white, blazing against the blue of windswept skies and the stark black silhouette of Hallows Hill. I could even get behind winter chic, when it came to sleek après-ski wear. And then there was Yule, with its fragrant wreaths and crackling logs and sea of candlelight. Arguably the most luminous and magical of the solstices.
But in practice? Winter is horribly inelegant and messy, almost impossible to calibrate. One too many layers leaves you sticky and sweltering, while one too few lets the chill creep into your bones. Your hair turns into kindling, or poufs into a staticky halo immune even to glamour spells. You can’t even run properly in winter, unless you’re a die-hard marathoner with no self-preservation instincts left intact.
All around cruel and unusual. At least we rarely suffered more than two months or so of such yearly punishment in Thistle Grove.
But this year, strangely, winter seemed to suit me. This year, I found every fresh snowfall soothing, almost meditative. There was one raging right now beyond the frost-rimed window of the Silver Cherry, where I was grin-and-bearing my way through a jewelry-making class; a feathery whirlwind, like being inside a shaken snow globe filled with drifting down. It felt hypnotic, a chaotic escapade of white that made it hard to hold on to any single thought for long. Which, these days, was more than fine by me.
These days, my thoughts and I didn’t tend to be on the best of terms.
“Sweetheart,” Jessa said, in that delicate tone she’d taken to using on me, like one harsh note might topple me over, damage me in some irreparable way. She didn’t have to be quite that careful with me, but I loved that she wanted to be. “You’re doing your depressed mime face again.”
The words themselves didn’t tend to match up with the spun-sugar tone all that often, because she was still Jessa, and I loved her for that, too.
“What?” I mumbled, finally tearing my eyes from the window. “My . . . what?”
“You know.” She rearranged her adorable, ringlet-framed features into a truly dismal expression, drooping puppy-dog eyes and a dramatically downturned mouth like a melancholy bass. “Like you’re about to perish of chronic woe. Or possibly planning to re-create that scene from The Giver where the kid and his little brother escape into the snow to die with their emotions.”
“It’s been a while since middle school English class, but even so, I’m fairly sure that wasn’t supposed to be the takeaway,” I told her with a snort. “And hard pass on that cold demise. If I absolutely have to die somewhere with my emotions, I’d rather go all nice and toasty.”
Dragging my attention back to my little work tray, strewn with a glittery mishmash of wire and beads, I saw that I’d been halfheartedly tooling around with making earrings before the blizzard got the best of me. Once upon a time, I’d have crafted something gorgeous given an opportunity like this, painstakingly applied myself until I had it just right. Too bad “once upon a time” felt like several eons and an infinity of wrong turns ago.
“Burn you at stake, then, noted,” Jessa quipped-though of course, thoroughly normie as she was, my best friend had no idea how close to home that hit. As far as I knew, Jessa had never once seriously considered the notion that our charming postcard of a town really was settled by witches, exactly like Thistle Grove legend would have you believe.
To her, I was just Nina. Best friend and partner in crime from our shared law school days, now in-house counsel to my family’s extensive business interests. Not Nineve Cliodhna of House Blackmoore, second in line to the most powerful witch dynasty in Thistle Grove.
“Don’t worry, buddy,” I assured her. “I do still have considerable will to live. Just not, like, enough zest to care about these earrings, apparently.”
Jessa pooched out her lower lip, abandoning the complicated (and suspiciously BDSM-looking) beaded choker she’d been working on.
“But that’s the point,” she insisted, smooth brow wrinkling with concern. “That’s what these classes are for, Nina. We’re supposed to be nurturing our creative selves, meeting new people, rediscovering your zest. Unearthing it.”
She looked so crestfallen that for the barest moment, I entertained the idea of assembling the pitiful bead hodgepodge into something pretty with a simple transmutation spell of the pumpkin-into-carriage variety, but even more basic. The raw materials were already right in front of me, half-threaded. I could have done it with just a few words, using a single, purely distilled thought as a vehicle of my will.
But that wouldn’t have been honest or fair, which was part of the reason I never did magic in front of my best friend. For the safety and the continuing preservation of our town, as per the Grimoire-the spellbook that also held sway over the conduct and governance of Thistle Grove’s witch community-only long-term, witchbound partners were permitted access to that secret. And for all that I adored Jessa to pieces, our friendship wasn’t the kind of love the founders had had in mind when deciding who should be privy to our magic.
Letting the oblivion glamour that was cast over the town take hold of her, erasing her memory of whatever spell I’d worked, would have felt . . . traitorous. A little gross, even.
And it would have been a cop-out at best. Jessa was the kind of delightful whirlwind of a person who effortlessly transformed strangers into friends-or short-lived partners, as the case may be-wherever she went, and I knew she’d been hoping a little of that joie de vivre might rub off on me. Tonight’s jewelry-making class was the fourth hopeful outing of its kind, following a disastrous wine-and-paint night (during which I’d gotten the not-artistically-conducive kind of wasted), an equally catastrophic pottery class that had reminded me of Sydney’s love of ceremonial teacups and sent me spinning into a meltdown, and a flower-arranging class that had only managed to unearth memories of the ivory-and-rose-gold palette I’d chosen for the flowers at my own wedding.
A wedding that was never going to happen, much like the perfect life with Sydney that had been meant to materialize thereafter. A life that now seemed not just fictional, but so fantastically unbelievable that I, a flesh-and-blood descendant of the sorceress Morgan le Fay, couldn’t conceive of it as a reality.
“You’re talking about me like I’m some archeological dig, Jess, and we’re troweling for ancient potsherds of joy. What if there’s no zest to unearth? What if I’m just a barren wasteland?” I dropped my chin, the familiar, hateful well of tears pressing against my eyes. I was so damn sick of crying at the slightest provocation, like some weepy damsel stuck in a mire of never-ending distress, but I’d apparently won the sob lottery. Team #Leaky4Life over here. “Permanently broken?”
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis comes a collection of steamy, STEMinist novellas featuring a trio of engineers and their loves in loathing—with a special bonus chapter!
Under One Roof An environmental engineer discovers that scientists should never cohabitate when she finds herself stuck with the roommate from hell—a detestable big-oil lawyer who won’t leave the thermostat alone.
Stuck with You A civil engineer and her nemesis take their rivalry—and love—to the next level when they get stuck in a New York elevator.
Below Zero A NASA aerospace engineer’s frozen heart melts as she lies injured and stranded at a remote Arctic research station and the only person willing to undertake the dangerous rescue mission is her longtime rival.
I loved this collection of steamy STEM forward novellas from Ali Hazelwood. My favorite part of Loathe to Love You was the friendship between Mara, Sadie and Hannah. I loved how they were always there for one another throughout each of the novellas. It made it so fun to follow along with their journeys.
Under One Roof: 5/5 This novella was definitely my favorite out of the three. I loved Liam and Mara so much! Under One Roof had so many of my favorite tropes all wrapped up in one amazing book including -forced proximity -roommates -enemies-to-lovers -slow burn -bonding over grief -strong women in STEM
Stuck with You: 4.5/5 Stuck with You starts off with Sadie being stuck on an elevator during a power outage. Maybe not the best place to be, but it gets worse when Sadie finds out she’s stuck with the person she hates the most right now – Eric Novak. Erik and Sadie had one heated, perfect night together before Sadie finds out that he betrayed her in the worst way. Will being stuck in the elevator get them to work past their issues or make them worse?
Okay first of all, I absolutely love a book with flashback scenes and in Stuck with You the scenes alternated to being stuck in the elevator and Sadie and Erik’s first meeting. While I’m typically not a fan of insta-love, it worked for me in this case.
Below Zero: 4/5 Hannah first meets Ian when she’s still in school. Forced to write an informational interview on someone who shares the same career girls, she decides to write it on her friend Mara’s cousin Ian. Ian is a NASA engineer and Hannah’s career aspirations are to one day work as a NASA engineer. Their one short afternoon together turns in to so much more when they act on their attraction to one another. But Hannah doesn’t do relationships and tells Ian this. He is hurt, but understands and they part their separate ones.
That is until 4 years later when Hannah and Ian meet again at NASA when Hannah ends up working there. Soon they work together and are constantly in each others orbit. But when Hannah finds out that Ian may be keeping her from her ultimate goal her shields go up.
Only, when Hannah finds herself trapped in a snow storm on an expedition it’s Ian who comes to her rescue. Will she be able to put aside her differences to find out why he’s there when he challenged her project every step of the way?
Below Zero was a short and fun novella. At this point I expect Ali’s books to make me laugh, swoon and deliver on the 🔥 and Below Zero did exactly that. I do love a good time lapse and it was fun to see Hannah, Mara and Sadie first meet and get to know each other through the length of this novella.
Ian was the ultimate cinnamon roll hero and I loved how much he cared for Hannah. I needed to know what happened to put these two individuals who liked and respected each other at odds. I totally binged this novella.
I will say that out of the three novellas, this book maybe felt the most like a novella to me and I wanted to feel more of a connection to Ian and Hannah. Overall I did enjoy Below Zero and this series of novellas as a whole!