Part thriller and part mystery, this delightful story of friendship also celebrates sex, love, and family.

THE AFTER PARTY

Three Black women who occasionally sit at the same lunch table at work are thrown together and become fast friends when their male colleague is murdered.

Venus McGee, Draya Carter, and Jackie Benson are all strong women who are leaders within their separate departments at Baltimore-based Billings Croft Construction, yet they couldn't be more different from one another. Venus is known as a calm and in-control senior project manager who has been passed over for promotions in favor of Rufus, an incompetent, petty, womanizing jerk; she holds herself accountable for every small choice she makes so that it does not reflect poorly on her father, a city councilman. Draya has a much different reputation: She asks no forgiveness for having slept her way into a job as the company's fiscal director, and she wields her sexuality as a tool to help get what she wants. Jackie, the third in the group, is the facilities manager at the firm’s building, a hard worker who is quick to defend boundaries and struggles with loneliness after her family shunned her for being a lesbian. When Venus gets into an argument with Rufus at the office Christmas party, the three woman head back to Venus’ apartment to commiserate on his extreme unpleasantness. The next morning, Rufus summons Draya frantically to his house for work help and she arrives to find him dead. As a Black woman in Baltimore, she does not trust what the police will do to her if she reports Rufus’ murder, so she calls Venus. What follows are a wild few weeks as the women try to protect themselves from the police investigation, figure out who murdered Rufus, and work through their opinions on potential, current, and former lovers as they become not only fast friends, but also family. This is Homicide: Life on the Streets meets 9 to 5 meets Bridgerton in a story that screams to become a TV series.

Part thriller and part mystery, this delightful story of friendship also celebrates sex, love, and family.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5420-3112-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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A warm and winning "When Harry Met Sally…" update that hits all the perfect notes.

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PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION

A travel writer has one last shot at reconnecting with the best friend she just might be in love with.

Poppy and Alex couldn't be more different. She loves wearing bright colors while he prefers khakis and a T-shirt. She likes just about everything while he’s a bit more discerning. And yet, their opposites-attract friendship works because they love each other…in a totally platonic way. Probably. Even though they have their own separate lives (Poppy lives in New York City and is a travel writer with a popular Instagram account; Alex is a high school teacher in their tiny Ohio hometown), they still manage to get together each summer for one fabulous vacation. They grow closer every year, but Poppy doesn’t let herself linger on her feelings for Alex—she doesn’t want to ruin their friendship or the way she can be fully herself with him. They continue to date other people, even bringing their serious partners on their summer vacations…but then, after a falling-out, they stop speaking. When Poppy finds herself facing a serious bout of ennui, unhappy with her glamorous job and the life she’s been dreaming of forever, she thinks back to the last time she was truly happy: her last vacation with Alex. And so, though they haven’t spoken in two years, she asks him to take another vacation with her. She’s determined to bridge the gap that’s formed between them and become best friends again, but to do that, she’ll have to be honest with Alex—and herself—about her true feelings. In chapters that jump around in time, Henry shows readers the progression (and dissolution) of Poppy and Alex’s friendship. Their slow-burn love story hits on beloved romance tropes (such as there unexpectedly being only one bed on the reconciliation trip Poppy plans) while still feeling entirely fresh. Henry’s biggest strength is in the sparkling, often laugh-out-loud-funny dialogue, particularly the banter-filled conversations between Poppy and Alex. But there’s depth to the story, too—Poppy’s feeling of dissatisfaction with a life that should be making her happy as well as her unresolved feelings toward the difficult parts of her childhood make her a sympathetic and relatable character. The end result is a story that pays homage to classic romantic comedies while having a point of view all its own.

A warm and winning "When Harry Met Sally…" update that hits all the perfect notes.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0675-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A heartfelt look at taking second chances, in life and in love.

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BEACH READ

Two struggling authors spend the summer writing and falling in love in a quaint beach town.

January Andrews has just arrived in the small town of North Bear Shores with some serious baggage. Her father has been dead for a year, but she still hasn’t come to terms with what she found out at his funeral—he had been cheating on her mother for years. January plans to spend the summer cleaning out and selling the house her father and “That Woman” lived in together. But she’s also a down-on-her-luck author facing writer’s block, and she no longer believes in the happily-ever-after she’s made the benchmark of her work. Her steadily dwindling bank account, though, is a daily reminder that she must sell her next book, and fast. Serendipitously, she discovers that her new next-door neighbor is Augustus Everett, the darling of the literary fiction set and her former college rival/crush. Gus also happens to be struggling with his next book (and some serious trauma that unfolds throughout the novel). Though the two get off to a rocky start, they soon make a bet: Gus will try to write a romance novel, and January will attempt “bleak literary fiction.” They spend the summer teaching each other the art of their own genres—January takes Gus on a romantic outing to the local carnival; Gus takes January to the burned-down remains of a former cult—and they both process their own grief, loss, and trauma through this experiment. There are more than enough steamy scenes to sustain the slow-burn romance, and smart commentary on the placement and purpose of “women’s fiction” joins with crucial conversations about mental health to add multiple intriguing layers to the plot.

A heartfelt look at taking second chances, in life and in love.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0673-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Jove/Penguin

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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