Fern Brookbanks wants nothing more than to live her life in the big city away from lakeside resort her mother runs. Fern ends up meeting an artist – Will – at the coffee shop she works at. They end up hitting it off and have an amazing night together. Will and Fern made a pact to meet again the following year. Fern was left waiting and Will never showed…
It’s a decade later and Fern is now running her late mother’s lakeside resort. She’s not quite sure what she wants to do with the resort, but she never expected to see her Will as the financial consultant her mother hired to help with the resort. Will this second chance be a way for Will and Fern to find their way back together or will it only complicate things further?
Fern Brookbanks has wasted far too much of her adult life thinking about Will Baxter. She spent just twenty-four hours in her early twenties with the aggravatingly attractive, idealistic artist, a chance encounter that spiraled into a daylong adventure in Toronto. The timing was wrong, but their connection was undeniable: they shared every secret, every dream, and made a pact to meet one year later. Fern showed up. Will didn’t.
At thirty-two, Fern’s life doesn’t look at all how she once imagined it would. Instead of living in the city, Fern’s back home, running her mother’s Muskoka lakeside resort–something she vowed never to do. The place is in disarray, her ex-boyfriend’s the manager, and Fern doesn’t know where to begin.
She needs a plan–a lifeline. To her surprise, it comes in the form of Will, who arrives nine years too late, with a suitcase in tow and an offer to help on his lips. Will may be the only person who understands what Fern’s going through. But how could she possibly trust this expensive-suit wearing mirage who seems nothing like the young man she met all those years ago. Will is hiding something, and Fern’s not sure she wants to know what it is.
But ten years ago, Will Baxter rescued Fern. Can she do the same for him?
A random connection sends two strangers on a daylong adventure where they make a promise one keeps and the other breaks, with life-changing effects, in this breathtaking new novel from the New York Times and #1 Globe and Mail bestselling author of Every Summer After.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.
A woman discovers the father of the child she is nannying may be her biggest (Only)Fan in this steamy contemporary romance by Lana Ferguson.
After losing her job and being on the brink of eviction, Cassie Evans finds herself with two choices: get a new job (and fast) or fire up her long-untouched OnlyFans account. But there are no jobs to be found, and as for OnlyFans. . . . Well, there are reasons she can’t go back. Just when all hope seems lost, an ad for a live-in nanny position seems the solution to all her problems. It’s almost too perfect—until she meets her would-be employer.
Aiden Reid, executive chef and DILF extraordinaire is far from the stuffy single dad Cassie was imagining. She is shocked when he tells her she’s the most qualified applicant he’s met in weeks, practically begging her to take the job. With hands that make her hindbrain howl and eyes that scream sex, the idea of living under the same roof as Aiden feels dangerous, but with no other option, she decides to stay with him and his adorably tenacious daughter, Sophie.
Cassie soon discovers that Aiden is not a stranger at all, but instead someone who is very familiar with her—or at least, her body. She finds herself at a loss for what to do, given that he doesn’t remember her. As their relationship heats to temperatures hotter than any kitchen Aiden has ever worked in, Cassie struggles with telling Aiden the truth, and the more terrifying possibility—losing the best chance at happiness she’s ever had.
Cassie needs a job and a place to stay ASAP. She’s working on her degree as an occupational therapist and just lost her job. At one point in time Cassie did have an OnlyFans account, but she deleted it after she got too attached to a client and doesn’t plan to fire it up again anytime soon. So when Cassie answers an ad for a live in nanny and manages to get the job – she’s ecstatic! So what if her boss, Aiden is hot. Cassie can manage to keep her hands and thoughts to herself while she’s strictly professional. Except the more time Aiden and Cassie start spending together, the more mutual attraction grows. And when Cassie discovers that she knew Aiden or rather A during her brief stint on OnlyFans, will she be able to keep their relationship strictly platonic or risk blowing everything up by opening up to Aiden.
Okay, first of all The Nanny was 🔥🔥🔥. I loved the flashbacks in between chapters between Cici and A (that would be Aiden and Cassie). Their interactions when they were on OnlyFans were so HOT. And when Cassie discovers that Aiden is actually A – ahhh I loved that moment. And Aiden was such a sweet cinnamon roll but oof does he know how to bring the dirty talk . Their chemistry was undeniable and I loved their sweet and flirty banter.
I loved each and every secondary character in this book. For being a person who’s not really a fan of single parent tropes, I loved the relationship that Aiden had with his daughter Sophie. Sophie was going through a lot of grief after the loss of her mother and I loved that Cassie gives her space to come around and truly wants what is best for her and Aiden. I also really enjoyed the relationship that Cassie had with her neighbor Wanda. Their interactions truly made me laugh out loud! They were funny, but also sweet and relevant to the storyline.
The Nanny completely surprised me and in the best way! Overall I would give this book between 4 and 4.5 stars! Can’t wait to read the next book by Lana Ferguson.
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.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author.
A slow-burn friends-to-lovers standalone featuring Nick from Shortcake.
Note to self:
Next time your life falls apart, don’t hobble your broken ass back to your hometown to hide out. You think it will buy you time to glue yourself back together, but it won’t.
Nicolas freaking MacGregor.
You remember him, right? Your stepbrother’s best friend. The boy you shared secrets with and maybe-loved once. The boy you asked to be your first kiss.
The one who shattered your glass heart into a million pieces.
Well, that Nick rents your grandpa’s guest house now. And yep, he still has boundary issues.
FYI, the lanky skater boy with a sweet smile and crooked glasses has turned into a tattooed Viking with a devilish grin and a body of lean-muscled perfection you will not think about. Ever.
You’re wiser now, Riley, so I know you won’t fall for him again. Right?
PS: When he smiles and his cheek creases in that near-dimple way, run.
Trigger Warnings: childhood abuse (not shown); mentions of weight (no sizes or scale numbers); discussions of mental health, including PTSD and anxiety; cheating ex (not shown); violence (in flashback); body shaming (by parent); cursing and vulgar language; explicit sexual content.
I just finished binge reading Peanut and this book…this book took my whole heart and ripped it apart and then put it back together again. Seriously I was sobbing into my pillow while staying up way too late reading this amazing book. I knew after reading and loving Shortcake that I needed the next book in the series ASAP and Lucy did not disappoint!
Peanut follows the story of Riley and Nick. These two group up together and shared their deepest darkest secrets with one another…until they didn’t anymore. Riley up and left to LA to pursue a dancing career and Nick stayed back to become a prolific tattoo artist. Riley is back after being gone for over a decade. Broke and needing a place to stay she ends up crashing at her grandfather’s house only to find out that her neighbor is – yep you guessed it – Nick. Will these two pick up their easy friendship? Even though Riley has always longed for more than that from Nick and he’s always shot her down.
I honestly cannot put into words how much I loved this book. I binge read it and every time I would look down to see what percentage I was at I wished there was more to this book. More Nick and Riley. More of the crew together again. More angst and swooniness and lovely lovely words written by the talented Lucy Watson.
At times, Peanut was not an easy read. But the writing was always beautiful and really tugged at my heartstrings. The love that Riley and Nick had for one another was so damn sweet and I was rooting for these two to get together right from the beginning. Their journey was filled with so much emotion.
Not only did I love Riley and Nick’s journey, but every single secondary character had an important part of the story. Nick’s co-workers and friends at the tattoo parlor were so much fun! When they were on the page I was guaranteed to be laughing. It was also a treat to see Nick’s friends from Shortcake including a few scenes featuring Ben & Emelia who I loved!
If you love a swoony, angsty, second chance, slow burn romance I would highly recommend you pre-order Peanut!
CW(from Lucy herself): childhood abuse (not shown); mentions of weight (no sizes or scale numbers); discussions of mental health, including PTSD and anxiety; cheating ex (not shown); violence (in flashback); body shaming (by parent); cursing and vulgar language; explicit sexual content
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!
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.
I’M SO (NOT) OVER YOU by Kosoko Jackson
Berkley Trade Paperback Original | On sale February 22, 2022
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.
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-
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.
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.
“Hey,” he says while smirking. “Thanks for coming.”
The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Heat Level: 🔥
Release Date: January 25, 2022
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.
They were cowriting literary darlings until they hit a plot hole that turned their lives upside down.
Three years ago, Katrina Freeling and Nathan Van Huysen were the brightest literary stars on the horizon, their cowritten books topping bestseller lists. But on the heels of their greatest success, they ended their partnership on bad terms, for reasons neither would divulge to the public. They haven’t spoken since, and never planned to, except they have one final book due on contract.
Facing crossroads in their personal and professional lives, they’re forced to reunite. The last thing they ever thought they’d do again is hole up in the tiny Florida town where they wrote their previous book, trying to finish a new manuscript quickly and painlessly. Working through the reasons they’ve hated each other for the past three years isn’t easy, especially not while writing a romantic novel.
While passion and prose push them closer together in the Florida heat, Katrina and Nathan will learn that relationships, like writing, sometimes take a few rough drafts before they get it right.
Katrina Freeling and Nathan Van Husyn were THE sensational writing duo. Their books made it big and these two co-authors had a knack for working together. Their work was always amazing and their books were best sellers. So then, what happened to Katrina and Nathan? Why did they “break-up” and never write another book again? And more importantly – why are they now coming back together to write one more book together?
This book…I finished it a few weeks ago and I honestly cannot stop thinking about it. This book was messy, angsty and filled with a lot of anger, hurt and tension. I really liked the flashbacks between how Nathan and Katrina were before and how they are currently. I was itching to find out what happened to make them dislike each other so much.
I will admit that I am not a fan of cheating or love triangles and this book had no black or white area where that was concerned. It was a very gray/murky area and I’m honestly not too sure how I feel about that. That being said, The Roughest Draft was a book that deeply touched me. It’s a book that was often hard to read at times, because it felt so real. I still find myself thinking about Nathan and Katrina.
Grab your copy of The Roughest Draft if you’re looking for a second chance, angsty romance that will leave you thinking about these characters long after you’ve read the book.