A beautifully told rom-com that’s full of laughs, heart, and scorching sexual tension.

THE SINGLES TABLE

A fun-loving lawyer promises to play matchmaker for a surly (but smoking-hot) businessman.

It’s wedding season, and Zara Patel is getting used to her seat at the singles table. Although her aunties are always trying to set her up with eligible bachelors, she’d rather focus on her own successful matchmaking efforts. Helping other people find their happily-ever-afters is a lot easier than attempting a relationship herself, especially since Zara thinks she’s “too much” for most men. Fellow singles table resident Jay Dayal, an Air Force veteran and current security company owner, immediately knows that Zara isn’t the woman for him (not that he’s even looking for a woman). She’s loud, impulsive, and so klutzy she often ends up in the ER. However, neither of them can deny the sparks that fly between them when they meet during a bachelor/bachelorette party paintball game and Zara shoots him in the butt. When Jay’s mother begs him to find a partner, Zara agrees to use her matchmaking skills to set him up with someone if he promises to use his business to help her struggling law firm find clients. As they spend more time together, though, their chemistry becomes impossible to ignore, and their deal turns into a no-strings-attached relationship. But between Zara’s reluctance to fall in love and Jay’s inability to open up, things are more complicated than they expected. Can they let their walls down and see that the perfect match might be right in front of them? Desai creates a romantic comedy that has both genuine laugh-out-loud moments (usually because of Zara’s antics) and quieter, more emotional scenes (including Jay’s struggle to tell Zara about his combat-related PTSD and Zara’s deep wounds from her parents’ acrimonious divorce).  Zara and Jay both feel like real people with believable flaws, and their relationship plays out in a way that feels earned, with plenty of steamy moments along the journey.

A beautifully told rom-com that’s full of laughs, heart, and scorching sexual tension.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-10060-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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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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Lots of buzz after a seven-year hiatus, but even die-hard Outlander fans might need more action.

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GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE

The ninth book in Gabaldon’s Outlander series finds the Fraser family reunited in the midst of the American Revolution.

It’s 1779, and Claire and Jamie Fraser have found each other across time and space and are living peacefully in the American Colony of North Carolina. This novel opens with the mysterious return to Fraser’s Ridge of their daughter, Brianna, her husband, Roger, and their children. In a previous book, Brianna’s family time-traveled to 20th-century America and planned to stay there permanently. It’s clear that Jamie and the others expect the troubles the family faced in the future will follow them to the past; unfortunately, after their return, the book pauses for several hundred pages of exposition. Gabaldon reintroduces characters, summarizes past events and tragedies, and introduces new characters. The text features not one but two family trees (the one in the back is updated to include the events of the book), and readers will need both to keep track of all the characters and relationships. The Outlander series has always been concerned with themes of time and place, and this novel contains intricate details and descriptions of daily life in Colonial America, clearly the result of countless hours of research. But Claire and Jamie have always been the major draw for readers. Now that they are grandparents, their love story is less epic and more tender, exploring the process of aging, the joys of family, and the longing for community and home. The last third is more plot-driven and action-packed, but the cliffhanger ending might leave readers feeling as if the book is just filler for the promised 10th installment.

Lots of buzz after a seven-year hiatus, but even die-hard Outlander fans might need more action.

Pub Date: Nov. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-101-88568-0

Page Count: 928

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: yesterday

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