Numerous subplots overwhelm a romance between friends.

CRAZY STUPID BROMANCE

A woman learns the father she never knew needs a kidney transplant.

Alexis Carlisle is settling into a quiet life; a few years earlier, she joined several women to reveal they had been sexually harassed by a celebrity chef. Now she owns a cat cafe in Nashville, but she is also committed to providing a safe space for other sexual assault survivors. Alexis assumes a new customer, a shy young woman named Candi, is looking for support, but it turns out Candi has a personal relationship to disclose. A DNA test for an ancestry website has identified Candi and Alexis as probable siblings. Their father has only a few months to live unless he has a kidney transplant, and Alexis is his last hope for a compatible family match. Alexis approaches her best friend, Noah Logan, for advice, but he fears she is yet again rushing in to save others before thinking about herself. Noah has been hiding his love for her for years out of respect for her traumatic past. His best friend, Mack, and the rest of the men in their book club—introduced in Bromance Book Club (2019) and Undercover Bromance (2020)—encourage Noah to tell Alexis how he feels. Along with the kidney transplant story, the book has other meaty subplots—the men of the Bromance Book Club are planning Mack’s wedding, Alexis’ business is being targeted by a neighboring merchant with a vendetta, and Noah struggles with strife in his own family. The romance is a third-string plot, and though readers will be happy to see Alexis and Noah transition from friends to lovers, the romance is disjointed and unfocused. The large, unwieldy cast of characters exists to create crises for Alexis and Noah to solve or offer advice on how they can get back together.

Numerous subplots overwhelm a romance between friends.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984806-13-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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 sweet, funny, and angst-filled romance with a speculative twist.

ONE LAST STOP

A young woman meets the love of her life on the subway, but there’s one problem: Her dream girl is actually a time traveler from the 1970s.

Twenty-three-year-old August Landry arrives in New York with more cynicism than luggage (she can fit everything she owns into five boxes, and she’d love to downsize to four), hoping to blend in and muddle through. She spent most of her childhood helping her amateur sleuth mother attempt to track down August’s missing uncle, and all that detective work didn’t leave a lot of time for things like friendship and fun. But she ends up finding both when she moves into an apartment full of endearing characters—Niko, a trans psychic whose powers are annoyingly strong; his charismatic artist girlfriend, Myla; and their third roommate, a tattoo artist named Wes. And then, on a fateful subway ride, she meets Jane. Jane isn’t like any other girl August has ever met, and eventually, August finds out why—Jane, in her ripped jeans and leather jacket, is actually a time traveler from the 1970s, and she’s stuck on the Q train. As August, who's bisexual, navigates the complexity of opening her heart to her first major crush, she realizes that she might be the only one with the knowledge and skills to help Jane finally break free. McQuiston, author of the beloved Red, White, and Royal Blue (2019), introduces another ensemble full of winning, wacky, impossibly witty characters. Every scene that takes place with August’s chosen family of friends crackles with electricity, warmth, and snappy pop-culture references, whether they’re at a charmingly eccentric 24-hour pancake diner or a drag queen brunch. But there are also serious moments, both in the dramatic yearning of August and Jane’s limited love affair (it can be hard to be romantic when all your dates take place on the subway) and in the exploration of the prejudice and violence Jane and her friends faced as queer people in the 1970s. The story does drag on a bit too long, but readers who persevere through the slower bits will be rewarded with a moving look at the strength of true love even when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

A sweet, funny, and angst-filled romance with a speculative twist.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2502-4449-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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