Spotlight – A Cosmic Kind of Love by Samantha Young

A Cosmic Kind of Love by Samantha Young

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: October 18, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

Event planner, Hallie Goodman, ends up receiving the wrong digital files from a client (they were of the client’s ex boyfriend Christopher). Hallie doesn’t mean to open them, but soon finds herself charmed by the astronaut who’s sending videos from space. Hallie ends up sending messages in return, thinking that he’ll never see them.

Christopher is back on earth and ends up getting all his missed messages and finds that he’s surprised to discover videos from a pink hair woman named Hallie. She’s funny, sweet and Christopher is eager to meet her.

Will these star crossed lovers find a way to make their relationship work?


SYNOPSIS

Space is the last thing an event planner and an astronaut need in this charming new romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Samantha Young.

When event planner Hallie Goodman receives party-inspiration material from the bride of her latest wedding project, the last thing she expects to find in the files are digital videos from Darcy’s ex-boyfriend. Hallie knows it’s wrong to keep watching these personal videos, but this guy is cute, funny, and an astronaut on the International Space Station to boot. She’s only human. And it’s not long until she starts sending e-mails and video diaries to his discontinued NASA address. Since they’re bouncing back, there’s no way anyone will ever be able to see them…right?

Christopher Ortiz is readjusting to life on earth and being constantly in the shadow of his deceased older brother. When a friend from NASA’s IT department forwards him the e-mails and video messages Hallie has sent, he can’t help but notice how much her sense of humor and pink hair make his heart race.

Separated by screens, Hallie and Chris are falling in love with each other, one transmission at a time. But can they make their star-crossed romance work when they each learn the other’s baggage?

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Review & Excerpt- Barbarian Mine by Ruby Dixon

Barbarian Mine by Ruby Dixon

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Fantasy/Sci-Fi Romance

Series: Ice Planet Barbarians #4

Heat Level: 🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: September 13, 2022 (reissue)

Publisher: Berkley

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.


SYNOPSIS

The ice planet has given me a second lease on life, so I’m thrilled to be here. Sure, there’s no cheeseburgers, but I’m healthy and ready to be a productive member of the small tribe.

What I didn’t anticipate? That there’d be a savage stranger waiting nearby, watching me. And when he takes me captive, the unthinkable happens… I resonate to him.

Resonance means mating, and children… but I don’t know if this guy’s ever been around anyone before. He’s truly a barbarian in all ways, right down to clubbing me over the head and claiming me as his own.

So why is it that I crave his touch and hunger for more?


REVIEW

I enjoyed Barbarian Mine! Harlow and Rukh’s story was not as fast moving as some of the others in the series, but we finally got to see a few(!) babies – yay! I ended up enjoying Barbarian Mine and am already looking forward to book 5!


EXCERPT

BARBARIAN MINE by Ruby Dixon

Berkley Trade Paperback | September 13, 2022

Excerpt

Harlow

I need two poles for a travois. Two. No problem. There’s got to be trees in the distance, and I’m strong and whole.

Okay. I can do this. I can.

Aehako’s instructions ring through my mind, over and over. We need to make a travois and take Haeden back to the healer. My heart races wildly in my chest as I sprint through the snow, looking for the thin, pink, wispy trees of this planet. Kira’s gone, and both aliens are wounded. They need my help, and I can’t let them down. I don’t know why they don’t go back to the alien ship and get healed. They don’t trust it, and I guess I understand that. I’m used to technology, and it still freaks me out to think of the cold, emotionless voice of the computer.

Also, I know what it’s like to fear the doctor.

My feet sink into the snow with each step, and my leather boots quickly become sodden. There’s no time to fix them or reinforce the insides with warm dvisti fur. Time is of the essence. I trudge forward over a drift-covered hill, and when I see the pink, wispy eyelashes of trees in the distance, I pick up the pace.

Almost there.

I have Haeden’s knife, since he’s too wounded to use it. The bone handle is smooth in my hand, though it’s a little too big for my human-sized palm to grip comfortably. Everything here on Not-Hoth is sa-khui sized. I’m a decent height for a girl, but the average person on this planet seems to be seven feet tall, and the snows are deep, the caves huge. Really, everything feels just a wee bit too big. It’s like I’ve been transported to a Goldilocks house, except instead of just right, everything’s too large.

It’s just one more thing I must adjust to in an endless stream of new and frightening things.

Weeks ago, I went to sleep in my own bed, and the biggest concern on my mind was when I’d start my chemo. Then, a few weird dreams later, I woke up, shivering and weak, pulled from a tube and told I’d been abducted by aliens.

Which would have been hard to believe except that I’d come from Houston, Texas, and my air conditioner had gone out, so I’d spent the evening sweating and praying the repairman would come by soon. When I’d woken up? It had been so cold my bare feet had stuck to the metal floors, and strange blue aliens occasionally entered to chat with the humans.

It’s hard to call someone a liar when they’re seven feet tall, blue, and horned. After seeing that, I had to believe. And even though sometimes I want to pinch myself until I wake up, I have to accept the fact that I’m now living on a snow planet with no chance of getting home, and I’m infected with an alien parasite that allows me to endure the harsh conditions of Not-Hoth. Not exactly how I’d visualized my future at all.

But . . . at least I have a future.

According to the ship’s medical computers, I’m cancer-free now. I don’t know if it’s wrong, or if it’s Not-Hoth’s atmosphere or the new “cootie” (as some of the girls call it) living in my chest.

All I know is that the inoperable brain tumor isn’t showing up in scans. And for the first time in the last year, I have hope.

But first . . . a travois.

When I get to the trees, I move to the closest one and touch the bark with my fingertips. It feels spongy and damp despite the chill in the air, and not sturdy enough to support a massive, muscled alien. I have no idea if this will work, but I’ll give it a shot. I owe the sa-khui my life, and so I’m going to do my best to help Haeden and Aehako.

Kneeling down, I begin to hack at the base of the first tree. The knife sinks in with a squishing noise, and sap squirts out onto the snow. Ugh. I wrinkle my nose and keep cutting, determined. Kira’s gone, and they’re wounded, so I’m the only one that can help.

The snow crunches nearby.

I stand upright, surprised. It almost sounded like a footstep. “Hello?” I turn around and look. “Aehako?”

No one’s there. The snowy landscape is barren, nothing but rolling drifts as far as the eye can see.

I must be imagining things. I’m not alone out here in the wild. There’re creatures everywhere, or so the hunters tell me. It could be one of the porcupine-looking things. Or maybe it’s a rabbit. Or . . . whatever the rabbit equivalent on this planet is.

I can’t be a silly chicken and freak out at every little sound, though. I turn back to the tree and continue hacking at it.

I hear the crunch of snow again, and a moment later, a heavy thudding. My blood feels like it’s surging in my ears, and I press a hand to my head, wincing.

No, wait. That’s not thudding or drumming. My heart is calm. Is it . . . purring?

Something slams into the back of my head, and I pitch forward into darkness.

Even there, the strange purring follows me.

ARC Review – Love on the Brain

Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Heat Level: 🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: August 23, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.


SYNOPSIS

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis comes a new STEMinist rom-com in which a scientist is forced to work on a project with her nemesis—with explosive results.

Bee Königswasser lives by a simple code: What would Marie Curie do? If NASA offered her the lead on a neuroengineering project – a literal dream come true – Marie would accept without hesitation. Duh. But the mother of modern physics never had to co-lead with Levi Ward.

Sure, Levi is attractive in a tall, dark, and piercing-eyes kind of way. But Levi made his feelings toward Bee very clear in grad school – archenemies work best employed in their own galaxies far, far away.

But when her equipment starts to go missing and the staff ignore her, Bee could swear she sees Levi softening into an ally, backing her plays, seconding her ideas… devouring her with those eyes. The possibilities have all her neurons firing.

But when it comes time to actually make a move and put her heart on the line, there’s only one question that matters: What will Bee Königswasser do?


REVIEW

Bee Königswasser, a scientist with NIH is given the chance of a lifetime to team up with NASA and it’s a dream come true for her! She’s so ecstatic…until she finds out that she will be working alongside Levi Ward – her arch-nemesis. Levi and Bee were in grad school together, but Levi was always so cool and reserved and hated Bee. She’s not sure anything’s changed in the past few years and is dreading working with him.

The project starts off immediately on the wrong foot. Being a woman in the STEM field, Bee should be used to it, but she was hopeful and excited. Soon, Bee’s not sure that she can put up with all the crap she’s having to deal with. Not to mention that Levi either ignores her or is trying to sabotage her every step of the way. But not everything is at is seems and soon Bee finds herself working alongside Levi. Will these two be able to work past their differences to work together?

After reading The Love Hypothesis, I was highly anticipating Love on the Brain. And oh, how I loved Levi and Bee together. Their chemistry and banter was evident right from the beginning. This enemies-to-lovers, second chance romance was equally swoony and funny. I constantly had a grin on myself while reading it.

Read Love on the Brain if you love Star Wars, cats, Marie Curie, texting ala You’ve Got Mail, nerdy jokes and lots of puns…so yeah I could go and on and on, but please add this book to your TBR!

Spotlight & Excerpt – The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

Genre: Paranormal Romance / Women’s Fiction

Release Date: August 23, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

I’m currently reading this heart warming, magical read and I am loving it! Minka Moon is a witch who is also part of the very secret society of irregular witches – a group of witches who occasionally meet and discuss how magic seems to be affecting their lives.

Minka is used to being alone and not really having any friends. So when she decides to create an online account where she pretends to be a witch – she doesn’t think there’s any harm in that (also it’s a secret from the other witches). When she is contacted about her witchraft and tasked to helping three young witches control their magic – Minka is befuddled. Who is taking care of these witches? How are they all together – it’s a rule to keep witches apart as their magic can be powerful when combined? And most importantly who is Jamie – the temperamental librarian at Nowhere House and why is he so distrustful of Minka?

I can’t wait to dive back into the book. I am loving all of the secondary characters as well as Minka’s self discovery and her prickly relationship with Jamie.


SYNOPSIS

A warm and uplifting novel about an isolated witch whose opportunity to embrace a quirky new family–and a new love–changes the course of her life.

As one of the few witches in Britain, Mika Moon knows she has to hide her magic, keep her head down, and stay away from other witches so their powers don’t mingle and draw attention. And as an orphan who lost her parents at a young age and was raised by strangers, she’s used to being alone and she follows the rules…with one exception: an online account, where she posts videos pretending to be a witch. She thinks no one will take it seriously.

But someone does. An unexpected message arrives, begging her to travel to the remote and mysterious Nowhere House to teach three young witches how to control their magic. It breaks all of the rules, but Mika goes anyway, and is immediately tangled up in the lives and secrets of not only her three charges, but also an absent archaeologist, a retired actor, two long-suffering caretakers, and…Jamie. The handsome and prickly librarian of Nowhere House would do anything to protect the children, and as far as he’s concerned, a stranger like Mika is a threat. An irritatingly appealing threat.

As Mika begins to find her place at Nowhere House, the thought of belonging somewhere begins to feel like a real possibility. But magic isn’t the only danger in the world, and when a threat comes knocking at their door, Mika will need to decide whether to risk everything to protect a found family she didn’t know she was looking for….


EXCERPT

THE VERY SECRET SOCIETY OF IRREGULAR WITCHES by Sangu Mandanna

Berkley Trade Paperback Original | August 23, 2022

Excerpt

When the spellwork part of the meeting was complete, Primrose cleared her throat. “Finally, does anyone have any news they’d like to share?”

“It’s okay to say it’s time to gossip, Primrose,” Mika said merrily. “We all know that’s what comes after the spellwork.”

“Witches don’t gossip,” sniffed Primrose.

This was patently untrue, however, because gossiping was precisely what they proceeded to do.

“My ex-husband wanted to get back together last week,” said Belinda Nkala, who was in her forties and never had time for anyone’s nonsense. “When I turned him down, he informed me that I am apparently nothing without him. Then he left,” she added calmly, “but I fear he’s going to be suffering from an inexplicable itch in his groin for a few weeks.”

Several witches laughed, but Primrose set her lips in a thin line. “And have you been playing such petty tricks lately, Mika?”

“Oh, for the love of fucking god, Primrose, what does this have to do with me?”

“It’s not an unreasonable question, precious. You do like to take risks.”

“For the millionth time,” Mika said, irked beyond belief, “I post videos online pretending to be a witch. It’s just a performance.” Primrose raised her eyebrows. Mika raised hers right back. “Hundreds of people do the same thing, you know. The whole witch aesthetic is very popular!”

“Witchcore,” Hilda said, nodding wisely. “Not quite as popular as cottagecore or fairycore, but it’s up there.”

Everyone stared at her.

“I didn’t know fairies were real!” shouted Agatha Jones, who was almost as old as Primrose and tended to believe all young people needed to be shouted at lest they miss the import of her pronouncements. “Whatever next!”

“You see, Primrose?” said Mika, ignoring this interruption. “People call themselves witches all the time. I’m not putting myself or you or anyone else at risk. Nobody who watches my videos thinks I’m actually a witch.”

It was unfortunate for Mika, then, that at that precise moment, over five hundred miles away, in a big house in a quiet, windy corner of the Norfolk countryside, a skinny old man in a magnificent rainbow scarf and enormous fluffy slippers was saying exactly the opposite.

“Absolutely not!”

This came from Jamie, the scowling librarian, who was not in fact the skinny old man in the scarf and slippers. That was Ian. And the third person in the library was Lucie, the housekeeper, a chubby, round-cheeked woman in her fifties, who sighed as if she knew exactly how this argument was going to go. (She did know, and she was right.)

Ian smoothed down the tail of his scarf and replied, in the deep voice that had charmed audiences in many a small theatre over his eighty-odd years, “Don’t be difficult, dear. It doesn’t become you.”

Jamie was unmoved by this criticism. “You can’t seriously be considering bringing that”-and here he jabbed a finger at the dewy, sparkly face on the screen of Ian’s phone-“into the house?”

“Why not?” Ian asked.

“Well, for one thing, there’s no way she’s a real witch,” Jamie said irritably. This was not unusual. Most of the things Jamie said were said irritably. “What kind of witch would show off her magic on a platform with millions of viewers?”

Mika would have been immensely gratified to hear this, had she been there, but it looked like her double bluff had not hoodwinked Ian.

“She’s a real witch,” he insisted.

“How the hell can you possibly know that?”

“I have excellent observation skills. Just watch part of the video.” Ian wiggled his phone like he was dangling a lollipop in front of a toddler. “A minute. That’s all I ask.”

Jamie’s glare stayed firmly in place, but he crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back against his desk to look over Ian’s shoulder. Gleeful, Ian tapped the screen and the video started to play.Excerpted from The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna Copyright © 2022 by Sangu Mandanna. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved.

Spotlight – The Beach Trap by Ali Brady

The Beach Trap by Ali Brady

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Release Date: June 14, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

A twist on the classic The Parent Trap, The Beach Trap has two best friends from camp, Kat and Blake, finding out that they’re actually half sisters. Their friendship crumbles and they reunite fifteen years later when their father suddenly dies and leaves them both an inheritance – a run down beach house in Florida. Blake wants nothing to do with the house, while Kat wants to fix it up and keep the house. Both decide to fix up the house with the intention of Kat buying out Blake at the end of the summer.

Will these two end up learning more about each other and mending their rocky relationship while they work to fix up the house together? With a charming beach town and a bit of romance for each sister mixed in with their family drama – Blake and Kat may just end up learning how to become sisters by the end of the summer.


SYNOPSIS

Two best friends torn apart by a life-altering secret. They have one summer to set the record straight.

When twelve-year-olds Kat Steiner and Blake O’Neill meet at Camp Chickawah, they have an instant connection. But everything falls apart when they learn they’re not just best friends—they’re also half-sisters. Confused and betrayed, their friendship instantly crumbles.

Fifteen years later when their father dies suddenly, Kat and Blake discover he’s left them a joint inheritance: the family beach house in Destin, Florida. The two sisters are instantly at odds. Blake, who has recently been demoted from regular nanny to dog nanny, wants to sell the house, while social media influencer Kat is desperate to keep the place where she had so many happy childhood memories.

Kat and Blake reluctantly join forces to renovate the dilapidated house with the understanding that Kat will try to buy Blake out at the end of the summer. The women clash as Blake’s renovation plans conflict with Kat’s creative vision, and each sister finds herself drawn into a summer romance. As the weeks pass, the two women realize the most difficult project they face this summer will be coming to grips with their shared past, and learning how to become sisters.

Spotlight & Excerpt Out of the Clear Blue Sky

Out of the Clear Blue Sky by Kristan Higgins

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Release Date: June 7, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

Kristan Higgins newest book – Out of the Clear Blue Sky – is the perfect beach read! Heartwarming and funny, this book follows Lillie, recently divorced after her husband dumps her for another woman. With a grown child now in college, Lillie isn’t quite sure what to do with her life. Soon she’s bonding with people in her life that she never thought she’d get close to. Maybe this isn’t the end of life for Lillie, but rather the start of a new chapter?


SYNOPSIS

From New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins comes a funny and surprising new novel about second chances–and why the lies we tell ourselves are the most dangerous.

Lillie Silva knew life as an empty nester would be hard after her only child left for college, but when her husband abruptly dumps her for another woman just as her son leaves, her world comes crashing down. Besides the fact that this announcement is a complete surprise (to say the least), what shocks Lillie most is that she isn’t…heartbroken. She’s furious.

Lillie has loved her life on Cape Cod, but as a mother, wife and nurse-midwife, she’s used to caring for other people…not taking care of herself. Now, alone for the first time in her life, she finds herself going a little rogue. Is it over the top to crash her ex-husband’s wedding, dressed like the angel of death? Sure! Should she release a skunk into his perfect new home? Probably not! But it beats staying home and moping.

She finds an unexpected ally in her glamorous sister, with whom she’s had a tense relationship all these years. And an unexpected babysitter in of all people Ben Hallowell, the driver in a car accident that nearly killed Lillie 20 years ago. And then there’s Ophelia, her ex-husband’s oddly lost niece, who could really use a friend.

It’s the end of Lillie’s life as she knew it. But sometimes the perfect next chapter surprises you…out of the clear blue sky.


EXCERPT

From OUT OF THE CLEAR BLUE SKY published by arrangement with Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2022 by  Kristan Higgins.

When the waitress came to ask if we wanted dessert, Brad said no. “I’ll have the coconut cake,” I said, because speaking of joy . . . Pepe’s had the best coconut cake on earth. “We’ll split it,” I added, since we always did. One of our marital habits—Brad always pretended he didn’t want dessert, then shared mine. Denial.

“No, no. All for you,” Brad said, and for a second, I could’ve sworn he glanced at my midsection. He himself was lean. I was not.

Brad was nursing a second glass of malbec. That was funny . . . I’d never seen him order red wine, not even with steak. He said it gave him headaches, but here he was, sniffing it like he was a bloodhound, swirling it, savoring it. Before I said something snarky, I decided this was the moment.

“Honey, I have something to tell you,” I said. I took a breath and tried to get into the romantic mood. The candlelight made Brad look even more handsome. His blond hair, still fairly full, that WASPy, almost delicate bone structure. His amazing cerulean eyes. He looked younger, the gift of candlelight. I hoped I looked equally beautiful. “It’s pretty exciting.”

“Really? I have something to tell you, too,” he said. “Also exciting. But go ahead.”

I paused for dramatic effect. “We’re going to Europe! I booked us a trip!”

Brad’s face didn’t change. He didn’t smile. He barely blinked.

“Oh,” he said. “Uh . . . when?”

“October seventeenth. Venice, then a train ride up into the Alps for a few days, and then . . . wait for it . . . Paris! Surprise!”

Brad didn’t say anything.

“Honey?” I asked.

“Yes. Um . . . well.”

Not the reaction I was hoping for. Brad loved traveling. “Aren’t you excited?” I asked. “You don’t seem excited.”

He drained his wine. “Actually, Lillie, I . . . uh . . . I was thinking it’s time we . . . divorced.”

“Here’s your coconut cake,” said the waitress, a pretty girl with dark hair. “Two forks, just in case.”

“Thank you!” I said. “Dig in, honey, before I lay waste to this whole thing.”

“This is hard for me,” he said. “It wasn’t an easy decision, but I’m sure.”

“About what?” God. The cake melted in your mouth. Melted.

“Did you hear me? What I just said?”

“Did you hear me? We’re going to Europe!”

He looked away sharply. “No. We’re not. I want a divorce, Lillie. That’s why I took you here. To discuss our future at this natural split in the path.”

I snorted. “Oh, please. We’re not getting divorced.” God, this cake was so good.

“I’m serious. Please listen and don’t infantilize me, Lillie.”

“Brad. Honey. Is this because Dylan’s graduating? It’s normal to feel blue. But we’re happy. Not like everyone else.” There had been a rash of divorces among our crowd lately, and suddenly my skin felt a little too tight. “We’ve been talking about how fun being empty nesters will be.” Hadn’t we? No, we had. Just not recently.

“I’ve met someone.”

“You know, this trip is going to be perfect,” I said. “Change of scenery, new places, new food, different languages all around us. You can practice your French! Our son is going to college in Montana, and we’ve both been melancholy. I’ve looked at so many pictures of Venice, I already feel better.”

Wait . . . what was that he’d just said? It wasn’t about Europe. I felt a flush starting in my chest, creeping up my neck.

I took a sip of water. Glanced around the restaurant. 

“Lillie?” Brad said.

“We’re going to Europe,” I said again, more loudly this time. “We deserve it.”

“Are you even listening to me?” he said.

“Are you listening to me?” I snapped. “We’re not getting a divorce! Are you crazy?” Heads were starting to turn. I lowered my voice. “Look. I don’t think . . . you didn’t mean what you said, honey. I know it’s a strange time, and it’s natural to do some soul-searching, but we’re in this together. It’s going to be great! We’ve been talking about all the things we want to do.” I smiled. Yeah. Keep smiling, Lillie. “And we will do them.” That last line came out as a command.

He didn’t look at me. “I haven’t been happy in some time, and . . . well, as I just said, I’m in love.”

There was a buzzing sound in my ears. “No you aren’t.”

“Lately, I just feel dead inside.”

“No you haven’t. This is idiotic.”

“I’m sorry if this hurts you,” he said, “but I’m sure.” 

Suddenly, my plate was in my hands, and I was squishing the coconut cake on his head. “How dare you, Brad Fairchild! How dare you!”

Spotlight – Adult Assembly Required by Abbi Waxman

Adult Assembly Required by Abbi Waxman

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Release Date: May 17, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

In Abbi Waxman’s newest novel, Adult Assembly Required we meet Laura Costello – a New York native who is trying for a fresh start in Larchmont, Los Angeles. Abbi Waxman brings us back into the same world where we first met Nina of The Bookish Life of Nina Hill.

All too soon, Laura discovers that adulting isn’t as easy as she thought it would be. She finds herself homeless and eventually adopted by the local bookseller. Will Laura find her bearings to make it work in this new life?

Adulting is never easy and Abbi shines a light on themes of isolation, connection and mental health in Adult Assembly Required.


SYNOPSIS

A young woman arrives in Los Angeles determined to start over, and discovers she doesn’t need to leave everything behind after all, from Abbi Waxman, USA Today bestselling author of The Bookish Life of Nina Hill.

When Laura Costello moves to Los Angeles, trying to escape an overprotective family and the haunting memories of a terrible accident, she doesn’t expect to be homeless after a week. (She’s pretty sure she didn’t start that fire — right?) She also doesn’t expect to find herself adopted by a rogue bookseller, installed in a lovely but completely illegal boardinghouse, or challenged to save a losing trivia team from ignominy…but that’s what happens. Add a regretful landlady, a gorgeous housemate and an ex-boyfriend determined to put himself back in the running and you’ll see why Laura isn’t really sure she’s cut out for this adulting thing. Luckily for her, her new friends Nina, Polly and Impossibly Handsome Bob aren’t sure either, but maybe if they put their heads (and hearts) together they’ll be able to make it work for them.

Spotlight & Excerpt of The League of Gentlewomen Witches

The League of Gentlewomen Witches by India Holton

Genre: Historical/Fantasy Romance

Series: Dangerous Damsels Series #2

Release Date: March 15, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

I adored the first book by India Holton – The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels and am looking forward to reading The League of Gentlewomen Witches.

When a pirate and a witch must team up to retrieve an important talisman – an unlikely alliance forms. Charlotte, a witch, despises the Wisteria Society and one day aspires to be future leader of the League. Alex, a pirate, has vowed to never work let a witch get close again. Can these two work together to retrieve the talisman without their feelings getting tangled?


SYNOPSIS

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the teahouse…

Miss Charlotte Pettifer belongs to a secret league of women skilled in the subtle arts. That is to say—although it must never be said—witchcraft. The League of Gentlewomen Witches strives to improve the world in small ways. Using magic, they tidy, correct, and manipulate according to their notions of what is proper, entirely unlike those reprobates in the Wisteria Society.

When the long lost amulet of Black Beryl is discovered, it is up to Charlotte, as the future leader of the League, to make sure the powerful talisman does not fall into the wrong hands. Therefore, it is most unfortunate when she crosses paths with Alex O’Riley, a pirate who is no Mr. Darcy. With all the world scrambling after the amulet, Alex and Charlotte join forces to steal it together. If only they could keep their pickpocketing hands to themselves! If Alex’s not careful, he might just steal something else—such as Charlotte’s heart.


EXCERPT

THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEWOMEN WITCHES by India Holton

Berkley Trade Paperback Original | On sale March 15, 2022

Excerpt

A policeman’s whistle pierced the clamor of the crowd, and Charlotte winced. Pain from the noise ricocheted along her nerves. If only she could leave London with all its cacophony and retire to Hampshire, birthplace of Jane Austen, where green peace whispered wild yet gentle poetry to one’s heart. It was never to be-duty forced her presence in London, noble duty (and the fact there was not much of value to steal in the countryside)-yet still she dreamed. And occasionally took brief jaunts by train because, truly, there was nothing like leaving home for real comfort.

Thus imagining oak trees and country lanes while behind her the brawl intensified, Charlotte made her way without further impediment toward Almack’s. Its door stood open, a delivery boy’s bicycle leaning on the wall beside it, and the warm interior shadows promised respite from London’s inconveniences-as well as a back door through which she could slip unnoticed by policemen, pumpkin carters, and aggravated briefcase owners. She was almost there when she saw the child.

A mere scrap of humanity, he huddled within torn and filthy clothes, his small hand extended pathetically. Charlotte looked at him and then at Almack’s door. She came to a decisive stop.

“Hello,” she said in the stiff tones of someone unused to conversing with children. “Are you hungry?”

The urchin nodded. Charlotte offered him her wrapped sandwiches but he hesitated, his eyes growing wide and fearful as he glanced over her shoulder. Suddenly, he snatched the food and ran.

Charlotte watched him go. Two cucumber sandwiches would not sustain a boy for long, but no doubt he could sell the linen napkin to good effect. She almost smiled at the thought. Then she drew herself up to her fullest height, lifted her chin, and turned to look at the gentleman now looming over her.

“Good afternoon,” she said, tightening her grip on his briefcase.

In reply, he caught her arm lest she follow the example of the urchin. His expression tumbled through surprise and uncertainty before landing on the hard ground of displeasure; his dark blue eyes smoldered. For the first time, Charlotte noticed he wore high leather boots, strapped and buckled, scarred from interesting use-boots to make a woman’s heart tremble, either in trepidation or delight, depending on her education. A silver hook hung from his left ear; a ruby ring encircled one thumb, and what she had taken for a beard was mere unshaven stubble. Altogether it led to a conclusion Charlotte was appalled not to have reached earlier.

“Pirate,” she said in disgust.

“Thief,” he retorted. “Give me back my briefcase.”

How rude! Not even the suggestion of a please! But what else could one expect from a barbarian who probably flew around in some brick cottage thinking himself a great man just because he could get it up? Pirates really were the lowest of the low, even if-or possibly because-they could go higher than everyone else in their magic-raised battlehouses. Such an unsubtle use of enchantment was a crime against civilization, even before one counted in the piracy. Charlotte allowed her irritation to show, although frowning on the street was dreadfully unladylike.

“Possession is nine-tenths of the law, sir. Kindly unhand me and I will not summon a police officer to charge you with molestation.”

He surprised her by laughing. “I see you are a wit as well as a thief. And an unlikely philanthropist too. If you hadn’t stopped for the boy, you might have gotten away.”

“I still shall.”

“I don’t think so. You may be clever, but I could have you on the ground in an instant.”

“You could,” Charlotte agreed placidly. “However, you may like to note that my shoe is pressed against your foot. If I am so inclined, I can release a poisoned dart from its heel which will penetrate boot and skin to paralyze you within moments.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Ingenious. So you too are a pirate, I take it?”

Charlotte gasped, trying to tug her arm from his grip. “I most certainly am not, sir, and I demand an apology for the insult!”

He shrugged.

Charlotte waited, but apparently that was the extent of his reply. She drew a tight breath, determined to remain calm. What would Jane Austen’s fiercest heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, do in this situation?

“I consider myself a reasonable woman,” she said. “I take pride in not being prejudiced. Although your behavior is disgraceful, and I shall surely have bruises on my arm, I do appreciate this has been a difficult afternoon for you. Therefore, I give you permission to withdraw.”

“How kind,” he said wryly, although he did ease his grip on her arm. “I am going nowhere, however, without my briefcase.”

Spotlight & Excerpt of I’m So (Not) Over You

I’m So Not Over You by Kosoko Jackson

Genre: Contemporary Romance/LGBT

Release Date: February 22, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

When Kian gets a text message from ex-boyfriend Hudson, he’s not quite sure what to expect. He definitely does not expect for Hudson to ask Kian to be his fake date to Georgia’s wedding of the season. Soon their fake dating starts to feel all too real – will they keep up the charade or move to make their relationship real? Really looking forward to reading this fake dating/second chance romance!


SYNOPSIS

It’s been months since aspiring journalist Kian Andrews has heard from his ex-boyfriend, Hudson Rivers, but an urgent text has them meeting at a café. Maybe Hudson wants to profusely apologize for the breakup. Or confess his undying love. . . But no, Hudson has a favor to ask–he wants Kian to pretend to be his boyfriend while his parents are in town, and Kian reluctantly agrees.

The dinner doesn’t go exactly as planned, and suddenly Kian is Hudson’s plus one to Georgia’s wedding of the season. Hudson comes from a wealthy family where reputation is everything, and he really can’t afford another mistake. If Kian goes, he’ll help Hudson preserve appearances and get the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the biggest names in media. This could be the big career break Kian needs.

But their fake relationship is starting to feel like it might be more than a means to an end, and it’s time for both men to fact-check their feelings.


EXCERPT

I’M SO (NOT) OVER YOU by Kosoko Jackson

Berkley Trade Paperback Original | On sale February 22, 2022

Excerpt

Chapter One

The first rule, and only rule, of getting over your ex is not to answer your ex’s messages. This can be done in many different ways, depending on the person.

One, change his contact to read: DO NOT ANSWER.

Two, block his number.

Three, glue a horrible weave to your scalp, so you look and act like a completely different person.

Four, restart your life as the owner of a mom-and-pop shop in rural Indiana and call it a day. That’s one I’m particularly partial to.

All of those are good and valid options. Do what you need to do-no judgment.

And yet, somehow I found a way to break this simple rule. Not just break it, burst it wide open. Shatter it, if you will.

Because it’s one thing to open a text and answer it, but it’s another to decide to follow through with your ex’s request.

Look up Bad Idea on Google, and our helpful search engine will bring up, Did you mean: Kian Andrews’s choices whenever they involve Hudson Rivers?

My phone in my pocket vibrates once. My heart skips a beat. Maybe Hudson will cancel. Or maybe he’ll realize the past three months apart have been a mistake and he’s going to confess he’s still madly in love with me? Maybe . . .

Nope, just Divya.

DIVYA EVANS: Let the record show this is a horrible idea.

“Of course you’d say that,” I mutter, forgetting she can’t, you know, hear me. And she may be right, but that’s not the point.

When I got the text from Hudson a week ago, asking me to meet him at the Watering Hole, Divya was not amused. She scrunched her nose, like she tasted something rancid in the air, which wasn’t entirely off.

Because to her, that’s exactly what my relationship with Hudson was: rancid. Which, sure, everyone says that about their ex because it makes them feel better.

KIAN ANDREWS: You’ve said that-multiple times.

DIVYA EVANS: And yet, you still refuse to listen. Remind me, who is getting their law degree from Harvard?

KIAN ANDREWS: Wow . . . we went . . . 12 hours without you bringing up your Harvard degree. That’s a new record!

DIVYA EVANS: But seriously, K. This is a bad idea. Closure is not as good as you think it is.

As a lawyer-in-training, she should understand why I need to meet with Hudson: to process what happened, to close that chapter of my life, and to seal it shut with a glue made of truth. The memory of us breaking up is an open wound that never healed. It was a volatile separation, ending with me blocking him on every social media account possible and drinking myself into a stupor that made the two weeks after the breakup a blur.

Maybe that’s why Divya’s a prosecutor and not a defense attorney.

Another vibration, another text.

DIVYA EVANS: I’m only a few blocks away if you need me.

KIAN ANDREWS: What are the chances of that happening?

Pretty high, if I’m being honest. Divya has always been my rock, no matter what. Whether keeping me from embarrassing myself when I started crying in the club two weeks after my breakup, making sure I got my worthless self out of bed so I didn’t lose my partial scholarship, or even finding some men with absolute dump-truck asses to help me get over my head-over-heels obsession with Hudson, Divya has been that ride-or-die friend for me.

So it’s reasonable to assume that when I’m about to go through another major, traumatizing Hudson experience, Divya Evans is the big guns I have on speed dial. What’s that expression? Behind every great gay guy, there’s a badass woman?

Again, my phone pings. I pull it out of my pocket without looking, expecting another (well-deserved) quippy barb from Divya. But instead, an e-mail stares back at me.

FROM: JOBS@SPOTLIGHT.COM

TO: KIAN.ANDREWS@NORTHEASTERN.EDU

SUBJECT: RE: Investigative Journalism Fellowship Application | Andrews, Kian

I stare at the screen for so long, the colorful background of one of the many lighthouses on the North Carolina coast. I want to savor this moment. Hold on to it, keep it in its box, and put it on the top shelf somewhere out of the way. When I’m a famous journalist, with sources sliding into my DMs, begging me to write Pulitzer-winning stories, and I’m giving a guest lecture at Northeastern, they’ll ask me, How did you get started in this competitive, cutthroat business?

And I’ll say, I got my first job at Spotlight. Will Spotlight be around twelve years from now? Probably not. News websites cannibalize themselves like bacteria. But it’s the hottest place to work in journalism right now. Getting an Investigative Journalism Fellowship here would change my life. It’s like . . . do not pass Go; instead, get Park Place on your second turn.

I tap the screen, bringing it back to life. Still, the e-mail alert taunts me. Maybe it’s an interview request? Maybe my pitch on the lack of education programs in Appalachia and how it’s setting students back several grade levels that I spent all last week making really did impress them, and they are going to offer me a position sight unseen. That’s not unreasonable. It happens to white guys all the time. And I have good-no, fucking great credentials.

Like Divya says, they would be lucky to have me.

But at the same time, as my journalism professor said, Journalists are a dime a dozen. Why should they pick you over anyone else?

Which takes us back to Divya Evans, and her exact words: You’re a goddamn star, Kian Andrews.

I wish I had the same level of confidence as her. I do a good job faking it when I’m around her, at least I think I do. But now? Alone in this cafŽ? Doing something stupid like waiting for the boy who broke my heart-who is now seven minutes late-and staring at the e-mail that could change my career? That confident facade is pushed far back into the closet; a place I haven’t been since middle school.

And I promised I’d never go back there again.

Without overthinking it, I tap on the screen one more time, and then enter my passcode before I can change my mind. One more tap, and the e-mail fills the screen.

Dear Mr. Andrews,

Thank you for your application for the Investigative Journalism Fellowship at Spotlight’s Boston branch. At this time, we’ve decided-

“Shit.”

There’s no need to read any more. I could do a CTRL-F in my inbox, search for “we’ve decided,” and bring up more than a dozen results. This is no different, despite how badly I want it to be different.

I’m halfway through a text to Divya, informing her about the rejection from Spotlight, which will undoubtedly result in her replying with drinks on me tonight, when a baritone clearing of a throat behind me causes my fingers to stop. The deep voice cuts through the low sensual tones of the Esperanza Spalding cover artist serenading us in the Watering Hole, even if it is as out of place as a Black guy in Boston-aka Me.

But the voice is unmistakable. Even after a year of avoiding everything related to Hudson, the way he speaks effortlessly from the depths of his diaphragm still sends shivers down my spine. And the way his boyish grin plays off his chiseled jaw makes me want to melt.

“Kian?”

I do my best to turn slowly. Eagerness isn’t a good look on anyone, especially around your ex when you’re trying to act like you’ve moved on and are living your best single twentysomething life.

But my God does he look nice.

No, not nice.

Hot.

“Hey,” he says while smirking. “Thanks for coming.”

From I’M SO (NOT) OVER YOU by Kosoko Jackson, published by Berkley, an imprint of The Penguin Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2022 by Kosoko Jackson.

Spotlight – Hunt the Stars by Jessie Mihalik

Hunt the Stars by Jessie Mihalik

Genre: Romance/Science Fiction

Series: Starlight’s Shadow #1

Release Date: February 1, 2022

Publisher: Harper Voyager

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.


The newest series by Jessie Mihalik is a cross between romance and sci-fi/fantasy! When bounty hunter Octavia Zarola takes a job from her former general and enemy Torran Fletcher sparks fly!

I only just started Hunt the Stars, but I am already getting major enemies-to-lovers vibes! Will update the blog with a review once I’m finished reading!


SYNOPSIS

The critically acclaimed author of Polaris Rising takes readers on an exciting journey with the start of her brand-new series about a female bounty hunter and the man who is her sworn enemy.

Octavia Zarola would do anything to keep her tiny, close-knit bounty hunting crew together—even if it means accepting a job from Torran Fletcher, a ruthless former general and her sworn enemy. When Torran offers her enough credits to not only keep her crew afloat but also hire someone to fix her ship, Tavi knows that she can’t refuse—no matter how much she’d like to.

With so much money on the line, Torran and his crew insist on joining the hunt. Tavi reluctantly agrees because while the handsome, stoic leader pushes all of her buttons—for both anger and desire—she’s endured worse, and the massive bonus payment he’s promised for a completed job is reason enough to shut up and deal.

But when they uncover a deeper plot that threatens the delicate peace between humans and Valoffs, Tavi suspects that Torran has been using her as the impetus for a new war. With the fate of her crew balanced on a knife’s edge, Tavi must decide where her loyalties lie—with the quiet Valoff who’s been lying to her, or with the human leaders who left her squad to die on the battlefield. And this time, she’s put her heart on the line


ABOUT JESSIE MIHALIK:

Jessie Mihalik has a degree in Computer Science and a love of all things geeky. A software engineer by trade, Jessie now writes full-time from her home in Central Texas. When she’s not writing, she can be found playing co-op videogames with her husband, trying out new boardgames, hiking, or reading.