An enemies-to-friends-to-lovers story that’s sure to delight rom-com fans.

LOVE AT FIRST SPITE

An interior designer builds a “spite house” to get revenge on her cheating ex…but falls for the grumpy architect who’s helping her design it.

Dani Porter’s happily-ever-after imploded when she found out her fiance, Sam, cheated on her a month before their wedding—with their realtor. Dani can’t seem to move on until she realizes that the lot next to Sam's house—her former home—is still for sale. With the help of her BFF/cousin, Mia, and her new landlady, Iris, she pulls together enough money to buy the lot and start construction on the Spite House, an Airbnb that will block Sam’s view and remind him of her every time he looks out the window. The only problem is that Dani barely has enough money to cover the build, and she needs to find an architect on the cheap. Enter Wyatt Montego, a gruff architect at her firm who strikes fear into the hearts of their co-workers and has even been known to make them cry. As they get to know each other, Dani realizes that Wyatt’s standoffish personality is hiding his vulnerability—but will he ever open himself up to her? And can Dani ever give up on her revenge scheme and let go of the past so she can have a future with Wyatt? Dani and Wyatt have loads of chemistry, and Collins ratchets up the sexual tension as they get to know each other, although the story loses some steam in the middle when they hit numerous roadblocks that are largely created by a lack of communication. Still, they’re an engaging couple, and the side characters are entertaining (particularly Iris, a delightfully eccentric widow who supports Dani with humor and wisdom). Dani’s struggles to get over her ex are believable, and Wyatt is the perfect grumpy romance hero with a heart of gold.

An enemies-to-friends-to-lovers story that’s sure to delight rom-com fans.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-525-89979-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Graydon House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

Fresh and upbeat, though not without flaws.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS

An earnest grad student and a faculty member with a bit of a jerkish reputation concoct a fake dating scheme in this nerdy, STEM-filled contemporary romance.

Olive Smith and professor Adam Carlsen first met in the bathroom of Adam's lab. Olive wore expired contact lenses, reducing her eyes to temporary tears, while Adam just needed to dispose of a solution. It's a memory that only one of them has held onto. Now, nearly three years later, Olive is fully committed to her research in pancreatic cancer at Stanford University's biology department. As a faculty member, Adam's reputation precedes him, since he's made many students cry or drop their programs entirely with his bluntness. When Olive needs her best friend, Anh, to think she's dating someone so Anh will feel more comfortable getting involved with Olive's barely-an-ex, Jeremy, she impulsively kisses Adam, who happens to be standing there when Anh walks by. But rumors start to spread, and the one-time kiss morphs into a fake relationship, especially as Adam sees there's a benefit for him. The university is withholding funds for Adam's research out of fear that he'll leave for a better position elsewhere. If he puts down more roots by getting involved with someone, his research funds could be released at the next budgeting meeting in about a month's time. After setting a few ground rules, Adam and Olive agree that come the end of September, they'll part ways, having gotten what they need from their arrangement. Hazelwood has a keen understanding of romance tropes and puts them to good use—in addition to fake dating, Olive and Adam are an opposites-attract pairing with their sunny and grumpy personalities—but there are a couple of weaknesses in this debut novel. Hazelwood manages to sidestep a lot of the complicated power dynamics of a student-faculty romance by putting Olive and Adam in different departments, but the impetus for their fake relationship has much higher stakes for Adam. Olive does reap the benefits of dating a faculty member, but in the end, she's still the one seemingly punished or taunted by her colleagues; readers may have been hoping for a more subversive twist. For a first novel, there's plenty of shine here, with clear signs that Hazelwood feels completely comfortable with happily-ever-afters.

Fresh and upbeat, though not without flaws.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-33682-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more