The stars align in this charming queer rom-com.

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WRITTEN IN THE STARS

Two wildly different women fall in love while fake dating.

Elle Jones is on her way to a blind date with Darcy Lowell, and disaster seems imminent. Not only is this the latest in a string of dating disappointments, but she’s running late and wearing a pair of sexy undies so uncomfortable she can “practically taste her spring-fresh laundry detergent.” Despite Elle’s best intentions, the evening is, in fact, horrible. Where free-spirited astrologer Elle is endearingly optimistic, straight-laced actuary Darcy is harshly realistic. Elle loves cheap boxed wine; Darcy orders a $56 glass of Chardonnay. Elle believes in soul mates and is determined to find her own; Darcy had her heart broken by her ex-fiancee and is no longer interested in falling in love. Elle writes the night off as another loss, but Darcy has different plans. Tired of having her brother, Brandon—who's the creator of a dating app that's collaborating with Elle’s astrology business, Oh My Stars—meddling in her love life, she lies and says the two hit it off.  When Darcy asks her to go along with the lie, it turns out that Elle has her own reasons to take part in a fake dating scheme: Her family finds her lifestyle unstable and unsuitable, and she thinks presenting herself in a solid relationship might take some of the pressure off. The plot doesn’t deviate much from other fake-dating favorites—awkward first dates lead to passionate first kisses and time spent together reveals there is more to both women than meets the eye. But the plot’s predictability doesn’t detract from its two compelling leading ladies, and there are interesting conversations around nontraditional career paths and breaking away from familial expectations. Fans of pop culture–inspired astrology sites will love the effortless and entertaining way the author weaves zodiac memes throughout the text.

The stars align in this charming queer rom-com.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-300080-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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A classic plot plus Lauren's trademark snark and steam add up to a winning rom-com full of heart and holiday cheer.

IN A HOLIDAZE

A Christmas wish leads to a Christmas nightmare when one woman gets stuck reliving the holiday season, Groundhog Day style.

Things aren’t going as planned for Maelyn Jones. At the age of 26, she’s living with her mom and stepdad, she’s stuck in a dead-end job, and, perhaps most important, she just had an eggnog-filled holiday hookup with Theo Hollis, her family friend and the brother of her unrequited lifelong crush, Andrew Hollis. Maelyn’s spent years waiting for Andrew to notice her as more than a friend, but now she knows she’s screwed things up for good by kissing his brother. The only thing that’s going perfectly in her life is the lovely Park City cabin where her family, Theo and Andrew’s family, and her parents’ other college friends get together every Christmas. But then, on the last day of their vacation, Theo and Andrew’s parents announce that they’re selling the cabin. On the drive to the airport, Maelyn miserably wishes that she could find out what would make her happy…and suddenly, she’s back on the plane to the cabin, pre-Christmas, about to live the whole week over again. With another (and another and another) chance to make things right, will she be able to finally tell Andrew how she feels and discover real happiness? Lauren—the author team behind The Honey-Don’t List (2020) and countless other romantic comedies—is as reliable as ever with this cheery holiday outing. Down-on-her-luck Maelyn is a likable protagonist, and it’s easy to relate to her desire to fix her life (even if most readers don’t have the benefit of time travel). Her conversations with Andrew are adorably banter-filled, and her relationship with her parents’ friend Benny, an aging, wacky stoner, is sweetly charming.

A classic plot plus Lauren's trademark snark and steam add up to a winning rom-com full of heart and holiday cheer.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982123-94-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Interesting premise and likable characters shine despite a rushed conclusion.

THE DUKE EFFECT

From the Rogue Files series , Vol. 7

A powerful aphrodisiac upends a battle of wills between a taciturn colonel and a prickly herbalist.

Col. Constantine Sinclair was orphaned at a young age and raised by his uncle, the powerful Duke of Birchwood. Commissioned into the army as a young man, Con has been away from England for half his life. In the past year, all three of Birchwood’s sons died in freak accidents, and Con finds himself in line to inherit the dukedom. Upon returning home, he discovers his beloved aunt suffering from a painful but mysterious illness. Con travels to the countryside to ask a doctor he’s been corresponding with for assistance only to discover that the doctor is dead and his daughter has been impersonating him. Nora Langley was trained by her father and sees no harm in continuing his correspondence; after all, the only thing that prevents her from attending medical school is her gender. Determined to prove to Con that she is not a liar and charlatan, she follows him back to London, hoping to alleviate his aunt’s pain and suffering. After her normal remedies fail, Nora tells Con her most potent tincture has an unfortunate side effect: It’s a powerful aphrodisiac. Jordan’s aphrodisiac makes a second appearance in the Rogue Files series, functioning as an interesting metaphor for how people trapped by society’s rules can’t admit their deepest desires. However, the pacing of the story is uneven; the setup is complex and carefully fashioned compared to the quick, almost abrupt ending.

Interesting premise and likable characters shine despite a rushed conclusion.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-288545-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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