A light, leisurely novel with a wholesome love story.

THE HEART'S BIDDING

A store owner falls in love with an auctioneer in this romance.

Kay didn’t intend to spend so much money at an auction, but she couldn’t stop listening to the voice of the handsome auctioneer, Gerald. If that wasn’t embarrassing enough, she managed to drop her expensive item, an oak door, right on her foot. Gerald volunteers to drive her to the urgent-care center. Despite the circumstances, Gerald and Kay have a fun night together, chatting about work and family. Kay is working hard to keep Vintage at Heart, her family’s struggling vintage clothing and furniture business, afloat. She was having some success by selling items via online auctions, but thanks to a new law, she can no longer do that without obtaining an auctioneer’s license. Lucky for her, a class is about to start that will help her do so—and Gerald happens to be helping to teach it. Unfortunately for Kay, the instruction is definitely not cheap, and she’s already having a hard time just keeping the lights on. She makes a deal with Gerald’s mentor, which gets her into the class, but how is she going to manage the store, her grandfather’s greedy girlfriend, the bills piling up, and her attraction to the man who’s now her teacher? Swan present a wholesome romance between two adults just trying to find their places in the world. The real selling point for this novel is the characterization, as both the main and secondary players feel true to life. Kay, in particular, is fully believable and relatable as a college dropout doing her best to get by without losing herself in the process. The book’s pace is rather slow, which may cause some readers to lose interest. Those that stick with it, though, will enjoy its pleasant, low-key story.

A light, leisurely novel with a wholesome love story.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73558-750-9

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Story Garden

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2020

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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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