Hot Under His Collar by Andie J. Christopher
Hot Under His Collar by Andie J. Christopher
A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.
Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.
They're polar opposites.
In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they're living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer's block.
Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She'll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he'll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.
I had set myself up for heartbreak and now I suspected there was nothing I could do but brace myself and wait for it to hit.
If I had picked this up first, I might have been hesitant to read People We Meet on Vacation. The vibe of these two books could not be more different. They have the same delicious, slow burn of attraction and romance with cutesy heroines and broody heroes, but that’s the extent of the overlap. Beach Read is darker, moodier, complex. Unless you’re into true crime, dark family dramas, with a smallish side of kissing, this book is anything but the beach read the title and cover suggest. There is a heaviness – much like the humidity of a Midwestern summer – that just seeps into everything. It’s not often that I would choose to pick up a book about dead mothers (his) and cheating fathers (hers), but this scratched and unknown itch amid my parade of fluffy cotton candy books. Despite its flaws, I didn’t want to stop reading.
The rain fell all around us, and I let go of everything that wasn’t Gus, wasn’t this moment. I lost myself in him, and instead of trying to convince myself that someday everything would be okay, I focused on the fact that, right now, it already was.
Emily Henry’s writing is gorgeous. I could read her prose nonstop and never tire of it. She writes some of the hottest make-out scenes I’ve read in ages that left me feeling like a raging hormone-monster teen all over again (but in a good way, if that exists?). I could have done with way less of the New Eden cult secondary plot line; it was full of abuse and trauma that I frankly didn’t feel was necessary, and ultimately is responsible for the missing stars in my rating. There was already sufficient evidence to support the “we’ve both seen some shit, but let’s bang it all better” that was always going to happen between Gus and January. Unless their joint investigation somehow wrapped back around to directly impacting our MCs, the only cult I’m interested in when it comes to romance is that of Meg Ryan.
I know no matter how long I get to love you, it will be worth whatever comes next.
Inspiration can come from the most unlikely—and inconvenient—sources.
Kara Sullivan’s life is full of love—albeit fictional. As a bestselling romance novelist and influential Bookstagrammer, she’s fine with getting her happily-ever-after fix between the covers of a book.
But right now? Not only is Kara’s best friend getting married next week—which means big wedding stress—but the deadline for her next novel is looming, and she hasn’t written a single word. The last thing she needs is for her infuriating first love, Ryan Thompson, to suddenly appear in the wedding party. But Ryan’s unexpected arrival sparks a creative awakening in Kara that inspires the steamy historical romance she desperately needs to deliver.
With her wedding duties intensifying, her deadline getting closer by the second and her bills not paying themselves, Kara knows there’s only one way for her to finish her book and to give her characters the ever-after they deserve. But can she embrace the unlikely, ruggedly handsome muse—who pushes every one of her buttons—to save the wedding, her career and, just maybe, write her own happy ending?
“I just had to believe that I would see you again someday, and then all the waiting would be worth it.”
Kara is on a deadline. Chapters for her next romance novel are due ASAP but she has a bad case of writer’s block – until a chance encounter with her ex, Ryan, at her best friend’s pre-wedding party. Fueled by old love (and hate) for Ryan, Kara gets the spark of inspiration for her next story, and she’ll keep hanging around him if it means more pages. When Ryan gets kicked out of his hotel the week before the wedding, Kara invites him to crash with her before she realizes what she’s done…anything to finish her book. But with forced proximity, it’s only a matter of time before enemies become lovers again.
Success has come relatively easy to you. Now it’s time to fight for it. Only you can decide how bad you want this.
I am a new fan of Kate Bromley. There was so much I liked about this book: fun premise with true LOL moments, amazing friend group with ample girl power moments, book within a book yaaass, VERY hot sexy times (I mean, they act out a scene she wrote fans self forever). This is another case of a strong debut by a clever and talented writer that I’m excited to read more from in the future.
“I have tried to move on from us. I tried but no matter what, I always looked for you, for what we had, in every person I’ve dated since you left, but it doesn’t work. It can’t work because they’re not you. No one will ever be you and you’re the only person who is right for me.”
I will fully admit, the “Big Thing” our MCs must overcome had me compound swearing in a manner that even Samuel L. Jackson would have been like, “Damn girl.” I have a zero-tolerance policy for cheating; there’s no amount of true love that will ever make me feel like the cheater doesn’t deserve to be bitten by fire ants on their fun parts until their dying day. I have never rooted so hard for a character, but against their HEA. I think the situation was written beautifully, with a lot of relatable emotion and growth and feeling, but I ultimately couldn’t overcome the plot point in my lasting impression of the book.
“When making an important decision, I find it’s useful to think abut the life that you want to have. Sit and visualize it, and ask yourself if the choice you’re about to make will help you or hinder you in getting to where you ultimately want to go.
This a quick and satisfying read. It has a bulldog that gets up to some hijinks, scenes eating pizza for breakfast in Italy #goals, and historical AND contemporary romance. It happens to have an MC who makes very bad choices and is a bad communicator…and should momentarily have his peen turned into a lightning rod as penance. That said, would I still recommend this book? Absolutely! It’s perfect for your next weekend getaway or beach bag this summer.
Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents—who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno—Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father’s never been around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard...and lonely.
But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands.
At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98% compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly’s founder, Dr. River Pena. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Pena. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess—who is barely making ends meet—is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond” pairing that could make GeneticAlly a mint in stock prices, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist—and the science behind a soulmate—than she thought.
Funny, warm, and full of heart, The Soulmate Equation proves that the delicate balance between fate and choice can never be calculated.
I have no complaints on this one. The Soulmate Equation is pretty predictable yet still charming and not at all unsatisfying. And let’s face it, if DNA based dating existed, I would totally sign myself up for those potential shenanigans! If you’re looking for the familiar ease of CLo without anything terribly earth-shattering, this is an enjoyable beach read.
*****You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes
Joe is done with the cities. He’s done with the muck and the posers, done with Love. Now, he’s saying hello to nature, to simple pleasures on a cozy island in the Pacific Northwest. For the first time in a long time, he can just breathe.
He gets a job at the local library—he does know a thing or two about books—and that’s where he meets her: Mary Kay DiMarco. Librarian. Joe won’t meddle, he will not obsess. He’ll win her the old-fashioned way... by providing a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand. Over time, they’ll both heal their wounds and begin their happily ever after in this sleepy town.
The trouble is... Mary Kay already has a life. She’s a mother. She’s a friend. She’s... busy.
True love can only triumph if both people are willing to make room for the real thing. Joe cleared his decks. He’s ready. And hopefully, with his encouragement and undying support, Mary Kay will do the right thing and make room for him.
Joe is back at it again with his signature alluring yet terrifying self. He’s like the human equivalent of Taco Bell: it might sound good, but probably you’ll wish you were dead later. There’s not much that is new or shocking with this third installment of the You series – it’s the same twisty turny stalkerfest I’ve come to enjoy. I, for one, am glad Kepnes keeps cranking these out so I can keep watching Penn Badgley bring this creeper to life in upcoming seasons of You.
Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. By all rights their paths should never cross, but Achilles takes the shamed prince as his friend, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine their bond blossoms into something deeper - despite the displeasure of Achilles' mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But then word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus journeys with Achilles to Troy, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.
Profoundly moving and breathtakingly original, this rendering of the epic Trojan War is a dazzling feat of the imagination, a devastating love story, and an almighty battle between gods and kings, peace and glory, immortal fame and the human heart.
The only word I know to describe this book is: art. Like with Circe, I was awestruck by The Song of Achilles. I am a real sucker for the Greek epics, and I feel strongly that if Homer had written like Madeline Miller, a lot more people would be, too. She has a gift for making the gods as real, as complex, and as flawed as we mortals, and it is giving me LIFE. This reimagining of Patroclus and Achilles is nothing short of brilliant. For a tale as old as The Iliad, this is the first version that made me feel. I felt love and hope and sorrow – for a story I knew the ending of all along.
I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.
I would like to think that someday I’ll write a proper review, worthy of this book. More realistically, I think I will hold it in my heart. I will remember the drives I took while listening to it, the beauty I saw around me and felt from the book itself. I’ll regard it, as I have beautiful paintings in a gallery (back when that was a thing I could do freely), feeling that small link that exists across all of humanity to something wonderful, something created by a master to capture a glimpse of what it is to be human. I think I’ll simply choose to remember it fondly for a good long while.
Two best friends. Ten summer trips. One last chance to fall in love.
Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.
Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.
Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.
Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?
From the New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read, a sparkling new novel that will leave you with the warm, hazy afterglow usually reserved for the best vacations.
Happy book birthday to my new favorite contemporary romance! Yeah, you read that right. For a few years I have been waiting for a new book to dethrone my reigning favorite, but I wasn’t ready or expecting it to be this one. I guess that’s how it happens when you fall in love sometimes.
“My life turned out how I hoped it would, and now I just miss wanting something.”
Alex and Poppy are best friends. Every summer, they go on a trip together. Despite being polar opposites (hello, modern When Harry Met Sally alert!), these week long vacations sustain their relationship over a decade – until something happens and they stop speaking altogether. Two years later, Poppy has a realization during a bout of “Millennial ennui”: without Alex, nothing has that sparkle any more. So she sends him a hopeful text, an invite for another vacation to save the friendship.
Ninety-five percent of the time, I see Alex Nilsen in a purely platonic way, and I’d guess his number hovers a bit higher. But for that other five percent of the time, there’s this what-if.
The story alternates between This Summer, where Alex and Poppy are trying to salvage what once was, and all of the Summer Trips that came before it. There is a delicious tension as you see their relationship blossom and drift in and out of that grey area of could they be more? Through highs and lows, and trips all their trips around the world, we get these little glimpses of yearning and oh-so-many opportunities to yell “OMGGG just kiss already!” at your preferred reading format.
When I look at that photo, I don’t remember what Alex said to me to elicit that face, or what I yelled back at him. But I feel that same rush of warmth I get when I think about any of our past summer trips. That crush of happiness, that feeling that this is what life’s about: being somewhere beautiful, with someone you love.
Though many of Alex’s and Poppy’s issues could have been solved with more alcohol…I mean, conversation, frankly I’m glad they weren’t. Instead, we get an honest look at self-doubt and a reminder that sometimes you have a to take the big risk for big happiness. And it’s that journey of discovery that makes this my favorite book of the year.
A hilariously quirky novel that is equal parts murder mystery, rom-com, and a celebration of mothers and daughters as well as a deep dive into Chinese-Indonesian culture, by debut author Jesse Q. Sutanto.
1 (accidental) murder2 thousand wedding guests3 (maybe) cursed generations4 meddling Asian aunties to the rescue!
When Meddelin Chan ends up accidentally killing her blind date, her meddlesome mother calls for her even more meddlesome aunties to help get rid of the body. Unfortunately, a dead body proves to be a lot more challenging to dispose of than one might anticipate, especially when it is accidentally shipped in a cake cooler to the over-the-top billionaire wedding Meddy, her Ma, and aunties are working, at an island resort on the California coastline. It’s the biggest job yet for their family wedding business—“Don’t leave your big day to chance, leave it to the Chans!”—and nothing, not even an unsavory corpse, will get in the way of her auntie’s perfect buttercream cake flowers.
But things go from inconvenient to downright torturous when Meddy’s great college love—and biggest heartbreak—makes a surprise appearance amid the wedding chaos. Is it possible to escape murder charges, charm her ex back into her life, and pull off a stunning wedding all in one weekend?
Since she met and lost The One in college, Meddy has been tight-lipped about dating with her family. Her mom decides to help Meddy find the perfect man…by posing as her daughter on a dating app. When Meddy shows up to a blind date with a too-eager suitor thanks to her mom’s messages being quite literally lost in translation and him being general d-bag, things go badly – dead date in the trunk level bad. A hilarious romp around a glamorous wedding ensues while Meddy and the Aunties scheme to dispose the body, unveil a thief, and find a second chance at love.
I head for the front door, still in that weird I-must-be-dreaming state of mind. I don’t even know what to say to my aunts. Thank you for coming to help figure out what to do with this guy I killed?
Dial A for Aunties is the Weekend at Bernie‘s I always wanted, and much much more. It’s so funny and so full of heart that I found myself forgetting this was a debut. For the past year (plus), it’s been hard for me to focus on reading anything other than my daily news doom-scroll; somehow this book about a dead body helped me find that spark again thanks to Sutanto’s effortless writing. I was nothing short of invested in Meddy and her comedy of errors. If you’re looking for an easy, funny read, I have zero hesitation recommending this one.
The Secret Bridesmaid by Katy Birchall
The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser
Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala
Just Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane
Like Cats and Dogs by Kate McMurray
Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
The Last Goodbye by Fiona Lucas
To Sir, With Love by Lauren Layne
Naomi and Ethan will test the boundaries of love in this provocative romance from the author of the ground-breaking debut, The Roommate.
Naomi Grant has built her life around going against the grain. After the sex-positive start-up she cofounded becomes an international sensation, she wants to extend her educational platform to live lecturing. Unfortunately, despite her long list of qualifications, higher ed won't hire her.
Ethan Cohen has recently received two honors: LA Mag named him one of the city's hottest bachelors and he became rabbi of his own synagogue. Taking a gamble in an effort to attract more millennials to the faith, the executive board hired Ethan because of his nontraditional background. Unfortunately, his shul is low on both funds and congregants. The board gives him three months to turn things around or else they'll close the doors of his synagogue for good.
Naomi and Ethan join forces to host a buzzy seminar series on Modern Intimacy, the perfect solution to their problems--until they discover a new one--their growing attraction to each other. They've built the syllabus for love's latest experiment, but neither of them expected they'd be the ones putting it to the test.
Damn Danan, back at it again with the sophomore hit. (This is what’s going through my crazy head.) The Intimacy Experiment is so steamy, so sweet, and SO feminist it makes me borderline giddy – zero signs of slump in this follow up to The Roommate. The writing is as easy breezy, yet emotional and thoughtful for the content it covers. We are treated to the same impossibly relatable characters (a former porn star and a rabbi) with chemistry so hot that I was convinced was going to short out my Kindle. And what I’ve come to consider Danan’s signature, it unapologetically embraces women’s sexuality without the slightest tolerance for slut-shaming. I am such a fan.
I’ll leave you with my favorite passage – the turning point from when I went from like to love.
She nodded decisively. “So, why do you get out of bed in the morning?”
Something about the intensity of her voice when she asked pulled the truth out of him.
“There’s a moment, when you’re speaking to someone, and you’re listening to something they said, or actually” –it didn’t even require conversation–“maybe not, maybe you’re just giving them your attention, holding the door open at the deli, and something shifts behind their eyes and you know that they feel seen.” He lowered his chin, feeling goofy. “Not just seen but acknowledged in some way. They know they matter. That they’re not alone. And when that happens, I think about all the times someone has done that for me. The way that interaction saved me, shored me up against a thousand invisible aches I didn’t realize I was carrying.” […] “I guess I get out of bed because I think about the connection that we all have, this fragile humanity, each of us insignificant and at the same time precious. A continuation of a species that is recklessly unique. I remember that life is a finite gift, and I’d be an asshole to waste it.”
Prepare for an emotional rollercoaster brimming with laughter, tears, and slow-burn sexiness in this new adult romance that tackles the vulnerability of love with humor and heart.
Ever since she sat next to me in class and gave me death eyes, Willa Sutter’s been on my shit list. Why she hates me, I don't know. What I do know is that Willa is the kind of chaos I don’t need in my tidy life. She’s the next generation of women’s soccer. Wild hair, wilder eyes. Bee-stung lips that should be illegal. And a temper that makes the devil seem friendly.
She’s a thorn in my side, a menacing, cantankerous, pain-in-the-ass who’s turned our Business Mathematics course into a goddamn gladiator arena. I'll leave this war zone unscathed, coming out on top…And if I have my way with that crazy-haired, ball-busting hellion, that will be in more than one sense of the word.
Rather than give me the lecture notes I missed like every other instructor I’ve had, my asshole professor tells me to get them from the silent, surly flannel-wearing mountain man sitting next to me in class. Well, I tried. And what did I get from Ryder Bergman? Ignored. What a complete lumbersexual neanderthal. Mangy beard and mangier hair. Frayed ball cap that hides his eyes. And a stubborn refusal to acknowledge my existence.
I’ve battled men before, but with Ryder, it's war. I’ll get those notes and crack that Sasquatch nut if it’s the last thing I do, then I’ll have him at my mercy. Victory will have never tasted so sweet.
Only When It’s Us is a frenemies-to-lovers, college sports romance about a women’s soccer star and her surly lumberjack lookalike classmate, complete with a matchmaking professor, juvenile pranks, and a smoking slow burn. This standalone is the first in a series of new novels about a Swedish-American family of five brothers, two sisters, and their wild adventures as they each find happily ever after.
I always have tempered expectations when I’m surfing through Kindle Unlimited for some fluff. It’s very rare that I come across something good enough to write anything about, but this is one of those hidden gems I want people to know about. The willful heroine and grumpy (yet actually marshmallowy) hero make for a fun and smoldering enemies to lovers story. There are some heavier subplots around disability and death of a loved one, but Liese balances this into something overall feel good and even laugh out loud funny in spots.
*****Always Only You by Chloe Liese
Get ready for an emotional ride filled with laughter, longing, and a sweet slow-burn in this sports romance about love’s power not in spite of difference, but because of it.
The moment I met her, I knew Frankie Zeferino was someone worth waiting for. Deadpan delivery, secret heart of gold, and a rare one-dimpled smile that makes my knees weak, Frankie has been forbidden since the day she and I became coworkers, meaning waiting has been the name of my game—besides, hockey, that is.
I’m a player on the team, she’s on staff, and as long as we work together, dating is off-limits. But patience has always been my virtue. Frankie won’t be here forever—she’s headed for bigger, better things. I just hope that when she leaves the team and I tell her how I feel, she won’t want to leave me behind, too.
I’ve had a problem at work since the day Ren Bergman joined the team: a six foot three hunk of happy with a sunshine smile. I’m a grumbly grump and his ridiculously good nature drives me nuts, but even I can’t entirely ignore that hot tamale of a ginger with icy eyes, the perfect playoff beard, and a body built for sin that he’s annoyingly modest about.
Before I got wise, I would have tripped over myself to get a guy like Ren, but with my diagnosis, I’ve learned what I am to most people in my life—a problem, not a person. Now, opening my heart to anyone, no matter how sweet, is the last thing I’m prepared to do.
Always Only You is an opposites-attract, forbidden love sports romance about a nerdy, late-blooming hockey star, and his tough cookie coworker who keeps both her soft side and her autism diagnosis* to herself. Complete with a meddling secretary, tantric yoga torture, and a scorching slow burn, this standalone is the second in a series of novels about a Swedish-American family of five brothers, two sisters, and their wild adventures as they each find happily ever after.
*This is an #OwnVoices story for its portrayal of autism by an autistic author.
Book two brings us a badass heroine on the spectrum and a ginger, hockey-playing, Shakespeare-loving hero…there’s not a universe were I don’t love this pairing. Then fate forces these two certified hotties to share the same house when they’re already pining for one another. Egads! This is the funniest (and perhaps the spiciest) book of the three. If that wasn’t enough to make me happy, I think it gets female friendship really right.
*****Ever After Always by Chloe Liese
Buckle up for an emotional journey of hijinks, heartache, and a hot slow-burn in this marriage-in-crisis romance about going the distance to make love last.
I’ve spent twelve years loving Freya Bergman and twelve lifetimes won’t be enough to give her everything she deserves. She’s my passionate, tender-hearted wife, my best friend, and all I want is to make her happy. But the one thing that will make her happiest is the one thing I’m not sure I can give her: a baby.
With the pressure of providing and planning for a family, my anxiety’s at an all-time high, and I find myself pulling away, terrified to tell my wife how I’m struggling. But when Freya kicks me out, I realize that pulling back has turned into pushing too far. Now it’s the fight of a lifetime to save our marriage.
I love my cautious, hard-working husband. He’s my partner and best friend, the person I know I can count on most. Until one day I realize the man I married is nowhere to be found. Now Aiden is quiet and withdrawn, and as the months wear on, the pain of our growing distance becomes too much.
As if weathering marriage counseling wasn’t enough, we’re thrown together for an island getaway to celebrate my parents’ many years of perfect marriage while ours is on the brink of collapse. Despite my meddling siblings and a week in each other’s constant company, this trip somehow gets us working through the trouble in paradise. I just can’t help worrying, when we leave paradise and return to the real world, will trouble find us again?
Ever After Always is a marriage-in-crisis, opposites-attract romance about a sensitive, fierce-loving woman and her resilient husband who has anxiety disorder. Complete with island vacation antics, a sibling prank gone wrong, and a steamy slow burn, this standalone is the third in a series of novels about a Swedish-American family of five brothers, two sisters, and their wild adventures as they each find happily ever after.
As much as I enjoyed the first two books, I am always nervous around a second-chance romances. They generally aren’t my thing, but I am really grateful I stuck with it. Under that love subplot were some beautiful dialogue and thoughts around anxiety, fertility, and the power of choice not chance for our lives. It’s an emotional journey, sprinkled with the same light, fun, and all-important steamy kissing, as the rest of the books in this series – and I hope you check them out. I’ll certainly be coming back to this family as the rest of the siblings find their matches.