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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ARC Review – Lucy on the Wild Side

Lucy on the Wild Side by Kerry Rea

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Heat Level: 🔥🔥

Release Date: September 13, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

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


SYNOPSIS

A charming and wildly funny new romantic comedy by Kerry Rea, author of The Wedding Ringer.

Lucy Rourke has two great loves in her life: the gorilla troop she cares for as a primatologist and the laundry list of reality TV shows she watches to escape the fact that her actual love life doesn’t exist. And like a reality contestant gunning for the final rose, Lucy’s laser-focused on one thing: getting promoted to head keeper. So when a wildlife docuseries hosted by hotshot TV personality Kai Bridges chooses her zoo as its summer filming location, she sees an opportunity to showcase her beloved gorillas to the world and land a starring role in her department.

When Kai and his film crew arrive, however, it’s obvious to Lucy that Kai cares more about sky-high ratings than the gorillas, and he considers her a camera-averse know-it-all whose wardrobe consists entirely of khaki. But she’s surprised to discover there’s more to him than his rugged good looks and cheesy catchphrases…and that maybe a promotion isn’t the only thing she wants. But when secrets from their pasts threaten to complicate everything, Lucy discovers that happiness and success aren’t the same thing—and that finding joy just might mean getting a little wild.


REVIEW

Lucy Rourke is a junior zoo keeper and loves her job taking care of her gorilla troop. If she could have it her way she’d change nothing about her job, except for getting that promotion she’s been aiming at. Soon she has an opportunity to show her boss that she is up for the promotion when TV hot shot Kai Bridges wants to film Lucy and her crew with the gorilla habitat.

Lucy and Kai start off on the wrong foot and it only gets worse from there. Lucy doesn’t have the best time public speaking and she abhors the camera. Kai and Lucy get on each others last nerves, until they realize they have a lot of similarities. Will they try to make a relationship work between them, knowing full well that Kai is set to leave at the end of filming?

After reading the synopsis of Lucy on the Wild Side I knew to expect an enemies-to-lovers rom-com, but I didn’t expect to also feel so much for these characters. I loved every secondary character in this book from Lucy’s grandmother to her half-sister. I was invested in this story and wanted these characters to end up happier than when we first met them.

Kai and Lucy had such great chemistry. And wowza (see what I did there 😉 did Kerry bring the heat in this book 🔥🔥. I loved this delicious slow burn. These two characters were so funny and likable and yet they each had so much trauma to get past. They were so patient, kind and understanding of each others feelings and that made me root for them even more!

I loved Kerry’s debut The Wedding Ringer when I read it last year and was really anticipating Lucy on the Wild Side and I have to say – if you haven’t read Kerry’s writing yet – please change that.

I had an opportunity to listen to the audiobook of Lucy on the Wild Side and overall enjoyed moving back and forth from the audio to the physical copy of the book. I will say that I didn’t enjoy the accent for Kai as much. Perhaps a South African accent is trickier to pull off? I’m not sure – but it was not my favorite audiobook.

If you’re looking for a rom-com filled with a lot of heart, I highly recommend adding Lucy on the Wild Side to your tbr!

CW: parental neglect, anxiety (public speaking), death of a beloved animal

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.

ARC Review – Love in the Time of Serial Killers

Love in the Time of Serial Killers by Alicia Thompson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Heat Level: 🔥

Release Date: August 16, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

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


SYNOPSIS

Turns out that reading nothing but true crime isn’t exactly conducive to modern dating—and one woman is going to have to learn how to give love a chance when she’s used to suspecting the worst.

PhD candidate Phoebe Walsh has always been obsessed with true crime. She’s even analyzing the genre in her dissertation—if she can manage to finish writing it. It’s hard to find the time while she spends the summer in Florida, cleaning out her childhood home, dealing with her obnoxiously good-natured younger brother, and grappling with the complicated feelings of mourning a father she hadn’t had a relationship with for years.

It doesn’t help that she’s low-key convinced that her new neighbor, Sam Dennings, is a serial killer (he may dress business casual by day, but at night he’s clearly up to something). It’s not long before Phoebe realizes that Sam might be something much scarier—a genuinely nice guy who can pierce her armor to reach her vulnerable heart.


REVIEW

Phoebe Walsh finds herself coming back to her home in Florida after her fathers sudden passing. Phoebe isn’t thrilled to be back in her childhood home. She doesn’t have very fond memories of her father and wants nothing more than to work with her younger brother to get the house cleaned up and on the market so she can head back to North Carolina.

Phoebe is quickly acquainted with her neighbor when she moves in for the summer and she isn’t quite convinced that he’s the nice guy everyone assumes he is. Okay, that maybe because Phoebe is writing her dissertation in true crime but something is definitely off with her neighbor. But the more time Sam and Phoebe start spending together (they are neighbors after all), the more Phoebe realizes how much she might start to like him. How will a relationship between them work if she has to leave at the end of the summer?

Love in the Time of Serial Killers was nothing like I imagined it to be, and yet it surprised me in the best way. I loved Phoebe and how sure of herself she was, even though coming back to her childhood home brought about vulnerabilities that Phoebe tried to bury. There was so much hurt that Phoebe had buried and bringing it to the surface was a large part of Love in the Time of Serial Killers. I had tears in my eyes on more than one occasion.

The chemistry between Sam and Phoebe was evident from their very first interaction. Their relationship was tentative and sweet. Yes, it was filled with a few incorrect assumptions and possible serial killer motives – but I loved these two together. They were sweet and kind and so gentle with one another.

I truly enjoyed Love in the Time of Serial Killers. The secondary characters (including the cat), the thread of grief throughout the book and the sweet romance all made for a wonderful romance. Overall, I would give this book 4.5 stars and highly recommend it!

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.

ARC Review – Go Hex Yourself

Go Hex Yourself by Jessica Clare

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Paranormal Romance/Fantasy Romance

Heat Level: 🔥🔥

Release Date: April 19, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

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


SYNOPSIS

It’s one hex of an attraction in this romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Jessica Clare.

When Reggie Johnson answers a job ad in the paper, she’s astonished to find that she’s not applying to work at her favorite card game, Spellcraft: The Magicking. Instead, she’s applying to be an actual familiar for an actual witch. As in, real magic.

The new job has a few perks – great room and board, excellent pay, and she’s apprenticing to a powerful witch. Sure, the witch is a bit eccentric. And sure, there was that issue with the black cat Reggie would prefer to forget about. The biggest problem, however, is warlock Ben Magnus, her employer’s nephew and the most arrogant, insufferable, maddening man to ever cast a spell.

Reggie absolutely hates him. He’s handsome, but he’s also bossy and irritating and orders her around. Ben’s butt might look great in a crystal ball vision, but that’s as far as it goes. But when someone with a vendetta targets the household, she finds herself working with Ben to break a deadly curse. Apparently, when they’re not fighting like cats and dogs, things get downright…bewitching


REVIEW

When Reggie answers an ad in the local paper to work as an assistant for one of her favorite card games, she’s ecstatic to get a callback! Only when she goes to meet her future employer – she’s not quite sure what to make of the bizarre nature of everyone in the Magnus household.

Reggie soon finds out that she’ll be creating actual magic with Drusilla Magnus – a which who wants to share her craft with Reggie. Reggie is still on the fence about the position, but the pay is too good to pass up so she agrees! What Reggie doesn’t plan on is being around Dru’s nephew Ben all the time. Ben is overbearing, rude and generally a grumpy person. Worse – he doesn’t want Reggie around at all. Guess she’ll just have to show him how willing she is to learn magic and witch craft!

When Ben and Reggie have to work together to break a hex, they soon find themselves in close proximity to one another. And that’s not all – their attraction to one another only starts growing. Will they be able to break the curse and find a way to be together?

Gah! How much did I love Go Hex Yourself. I will be honest – a lot of fantasy/paranormal romance featuring witches and magic just falls flat for me. So I was a bit weary going in to Go Hex Yourself, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I adored this book and the characters in it.

All of the secondary characters from Lisa, Nick and Maurice to Dru had me laughing! There was such a great cast of characters in this book. Each one of them was essential to the story and I never felt bored with their story arcs or wanting them to get off the page.

But clearly the stars of this book were Ben and Reggie 😍. These two had so much chemistry together and I wanted more of them from their very first interaction. Ben was the grump to Reggie’s sunshine and these two were completely perfect for one another. Their relationship was slow growing and I really enjoyed the way that they begin to trust each other before deciding to move their relationship along. And YES, Jessica Clare totally brought the 🔥🔥🔥.

I loved this quirky, funny and sweet romance! Once I started it I had a hard time putting it down. I hope we get more books set in this world!!

Spotlight – At Least You Have Your Health by Madi Sinha

At Least You Have Health by Madi Sinha

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Release Date: April 5, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

In Madi Sinha’s second novel, At Least You Have Your Health she tackles the difficult topics of race, class, beauty standards and how to be the “perfect mother.”

When Dr. Maya Rao is given the unexpected opportunity to work as a gynecologist at a concierge wellness clinic – she is ecstatic! This is the opportunity for Dr. Rao to showcase all of her talents. Except that not everything is as perfect as it seems. Soon Maya is left racing to find cures for mysterious ailments and uncovering secrets that even she has been trying to hide.


SYNOPSIS

Behind the wholesome veneer of a wellness clinic lies a dangerous secret in this compelling women’s fiction novel from the author of The White Coat Diaries.

Dr. Maya Rao is a gynecologist trying to balance a busy life. With three young children, a career, and a happy marriage, she should be grateful–on paper, she has it all. But after a disastrous encounter with a patient, Maya is forced to walk away from the city hospital where she’s spent her entire career.

A new opportunity arises when Maya enrolls her daughter at an exclusive private school and crosses paths with Amelia DeGilles. Amelia is the owner and entrepreneur behind Eunoia Women’s Health, a concierge wellness clinic that specializes in house calls for its clientele of wealthy women for whom no vitamin infusion or healing crystal is too expensive. All Eunoia needs is a gynecologist to join its ranks.

Amid visits to her clients’ homes to educate and empower, and occasionally to remove crystals from bodily orifices, Maya comes to idolize the beautiful, successful Amelia. But Amelia’s life isn’t as perfect as it seems, and when Amelia’s teenaged daughter is struck with a mysterious ailment, Maya must race to uncover the reason before it’s too late. In the process, she risks losing what’s most important to her and bringing to light a secret of her own that she’s been desperately trying to keep hidden.