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STIRRING UP LOVE

A moving story imbued with thoughtfulness and generosity of spirit.

A chef who dreams of opening a culinary school for the unsheltered and a restaurateur who dreams of turning her small town into a destination clash over having to work together to win $200,000 in prize money.

Finn Rimes is kind, compassionate, and considerate. Years of therapy have convinced him of his own self-worth, but doubt still has a way of seeping in. Since he's spent his life moving through foster homes and temporary housing, all his worldly goods fit into the back of his car. The culinary school he wants to start is meant to show people who've been uncared for by society that they’re worth investing in and to help them choose a better future for themselves. Prickly Simone Blake is desperate to prove to her grandfather that his legacy in Hawksburg, Illinois, will live on with the reins of his barbecue restaurant, Honey and Hickory, in her hands. Despite her brief sojourn in Chicago, Hawksburg is where her heart is. Community is very important to her, and she wants to expand the town into a retail and entertainment hub. All summer long, Simone and Finn hawk their competing barbecue sauces at Hawksburg’s farmers market, and when they independently decide to enter a reality TV competition, they're shocked to find themselves going up against each other. Then the billionaire hosts of The Executives decide to invest in both of them together. Simone wants no part of the partnership, but Finn is desperate to convince her to take a chance on him. She couldn’t surrender to love; he didn’t think he was lovable. And yet, they are drawn together. A gentle soul, he brings steadiness and steadfastness into her life. She brings caring and a sense of home to his. Together, they feel hopeful for their future for the first time.

A moving story imbued with thoughtfulness and generosity of spirit.

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-38317

Page Count: -

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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JUST FOR THE SUMMER

A wallowing, emotionally wrenching family drama that leaves little time for romance.

Two people with bad luck in relationships find each other through a popular Reddit thread.

Emma Grant and her best friend, Maddy, are travel nurses, working at hospitals for three-month stints while they see the country. Just a few weeks before they’re set to move to Hawaii, Emma reads a popular “Am I the Asshole” Reddit thread from a Minnesota man who thinks he’s cursed—women he dates find their soulmates after breaking up with him, and the latest one found true love with his best friend! Emma has had a similar experience, which inspires her to DM the man and commiserate. She’s delighted by her witty, lively interactions with software engineer Justin Dahl, and is intrigued when he suggests that if they date each other, maybe they’ll each find their soulmate afterward. Emma upends the Hawaii plan and convinces Maddy to move to Minneapolis for the summer so she can meet Justin in person. The overly complex setup brings Emma and Justin together and the two hit it off, with Justin immediately falling head over heels for Emma. Jimenez then pivots to creating romantic roadblocks and melodramatic subplots centering on each character’s family of origin. Justin’s mother is about to serve six years in prison for embezzlement, which means Justin must move back home to care for his three much younger siblings. Emma was traumatized by her own mother for much of her childhood, left to fend for herself and eventually abandoned in the foster system. When her mother shows up in Minnesota, Emma must face her traumatic childhood and admit that she has prioritized her mother’s well-being over her own. There is little time devoted to Emma’s painful efforts to heal herself enough to accept Justin’s love, which leaves the novel feeling unsatisfying.

A wallowing, emotionally wrenching family drama that leaves little time for romance.

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781538704431

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Forever

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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HAPPY PLACE

A wistfully nostalgic look at endings, beginnings, and loving the people who will always have your back.

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Exes pretend they’re still together for the sake of their friends on their annual summer vacation.

Wyn Connor and Harriet Kilpatrick were the perfect couple—until Wyn dumped Harriet for reasons she still doesn’t fully understand. They’ve been part of the same boisterous friend group since college, and they know that their breakup will devastate the others and make things more than a little awkward. So they keep it a secret from their friends and families—in fact, Harriet barely even admits it to herself, focusing instead on her grueling hours as a surgical resident. She’s ready for a vacation at her happy place—the Maine cottage she and her friends visit every summer. But (surprise!) Wyn is there too, and he and Harriet have to share a (very romantic) room and a bed. Telling the truth about their breakup is out of the question, because the cottage is up for sale, and this is the group’s last hurrah. Determined to make sure everyone has the perfect last trip, Harriet and Wyn resolve to fake their relationship for the week. The problem with this plan, of course, is that Harriet still has major feelings for Wyn—feelings that only get stronger as they pretend to be blissfully in love. As always, Henry’s dialogue is sparkling and the banter between characters is snappy and hilarious. Wyn and Harriet’s relationship, shown both in the past and the present, feels achingly real. Their breakup, as well as their complicated relationships with their own families, adds a twinge of melancholy, as do the relatable growing pains of a group of friends whose lives are taking them in different directions.

A wistfully nostalgic look at endings, beginnings, and loving the people who will always have your back.

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 9780593441275

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

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