Hello friends!

I’m writing this from NYC where I’ve come to experience the amazing event known as BookExpo (or BEA).

The event, the largest annual book trade fair in the United States, is mainly for booksellers to meet publishers. Nearly all significant US-based book publishers, and many from abroad, have booths and exhibits at BEA, and use the fair as an opportunity to showcase upcoming titles, sell current books, socialize with colleagues from other publishing houses, and sell and buy subsidiary rights and international rights. Authors, librarians, and buyers for book retailers also attend the event.

It’s kind of a one-stop wonderland of all kinds of books. Since most of the conferences and events I attend are romance/women’s fiction related, BEA is a wonderful reminder of all the other amazing books out there.

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This is my second swim into BEA waters. My first was in 2016 when it landed in Chicago. Coloring books were all the rage, which was fun. Honestly, though, my overall impression of BEA is of a sea of books. Think the biggest bookstore you’ve ever seen, and multiply that by 10. Or 20.

(Then, for fun, consider that all of those books are pretty much the product of the last year and the next six months. Try not to cringe at the thought of all that paper, but celebrate in the incredible idea of books, beautiful books—every shape, size and color; every genre and subject—surrounding you like the perfect reminder that the universe loves you.)

Add a schedule chock full of fascinating informational panels on the industry, and a breathtaking array of authors signing nearly every second of every day for four days straight (when you factor in Saturday’s fan-oriented BookCon.)

It’s the perfect recipe for a book lover, and the resulting delight? The perfect magical dish with hints of fan girl, slight overwhelm and “is this even possible?”

So forgive me that mess of mixed metaphors and intoxicated writing. Just the thought of stepping into the Javitz Center makes me a little giddy and light-headed.

I won’t be reading much the next couple of days, and I hope to have some really fun stories to share in the next weeks about my time here at BEA.

To hold you over, I did manage to recently finish a few titles that came out this week from fave authors, and thought I’d remind you that they’re out and worth reading.

Julie Ann Long -  First Time At Firelight Falls

Okay, friends. If you have yet to discover JAL, please just get right on that. If you love historical romance, go find the Pennyroyal Green series.

But as great as those books are, Long may have found her shine in contemporary romance with the Hellcat Canyon series.

The thing about Long is that even when a book isn’t completely perfect, for whatever reason, her writing is so beautiful that we forgive her. Even when the characters don’t quite make sense on their paths to happy-ever-afters (aka HEAs), we still ache and laugh with them.

She transcends her own weaknesses, the few times she shows them.

I’m happy to say (and the Kirkus reviewer agrees, since the book received a star review - here) that this title suffered no weaknesses.

Navy SEAL turned principal Gabe and single-mom florist Eden fall a bit in love long before they ever get together, and then it’s cosmically perfect. Until, suddenly, Eden past comes back to town and then, it isn’t.

Long, in her inimitable way, effortlessly combines humor, pathos and quirky characters (and family dynamics) to create a breathtaking book.

As she does.

Enjoy! I promise you, romance fans, you will.

(By the way, I doubt my begging had anything to do with it, but this seems tone JAL’s first title in audio! Yay!)

Too Wilde to Wed Eloisa James - Too Wilde To Wed

No one is more surprised than Lord North when he returns from war to find his ex-fiancee in his ancestral home...working as a governess.

I really enjoyed this title, that sees North and Diana—whose engagement was done in by masks and misunderstandings—truly fall in love. North has returned from the American rebellion, still working through the trauma of war. Diana has been disinherited by her socially grasping mother, and must take care of her nephew, who everyone believes is North’s illegitimate son. It’s a joyful, insightful read with two main characters who’ve seen huge changes since the doomed relationship, and now have to find their way back to each other as the people they truly are. For the second time, James optimizes her unconventional Wilde family, offering another unique plot with interesting twists, and two lovers you can’t help but root for amid the loving, sly antics of the people who love them.

It doesn’t quite reach the charm and effervescence of the first Wilde title, but is still worth a read, especially for the enchanting Wilde clan. (The Kirkus reviewer seems to agree - review here.)

I love, love, love Lucy Parker and her London Celebrities series. Book 3 - Making Up - came out on Monday, and it’s another great read from this awesome author. I’ll be writing more about the book in an upcoming themed post, so will leave it at, “this a great read,” until then.

The Prince I haven’t had the chance to read Katharine Ashe’s The Prince yet, but it received a Kirkus star (review here) and I love everything she writes. The reviewer called it “A Georgian-era romance that enthralls and impresses up to the last page.” Nice!

The review begins like this:

Two outcasts find each other hiding in plain sight—and fall in love.

When they run into each other in an Edinburgh bookshop, Ibrahim Kent and Joseph Smart have just one thing in common: Neither of them are who they claim to be. Joseph Smart is actually Elizabeth Shaw, better known as Libby, a smart society lady who wants so badly to be a doctor that she is dressing up as a man to attend lectures at Surgeons’ Hall. And Ibrahim, known as “the Turk” and posing as a society portraitist, is actually Ziyaeddin Mirza, Prince of Tabir, in exile from his homeland for 17 years. 

Wow, that sounds yummy. Definitely need to pick that one up!

Lots of great books came out this week. What are you reading?