Meet Me in Madrid by Verity Lowell is available in trade paperback and eBook on October 26th!
In this sexy, sophisticated romantic comedy, two women juggle romance and career across continents.
Charlotte Hilaire has a love-hate relationship with her work as a museum courier. On the one hand, it takes her around the world. On the other, her plan to become a professor is veering dangerously off track.
Yet once in a while, maybe every third trip or so, the job goes delightfully sideways…
When a blizzard strands Charlotte in Spain for a few extra days and she’s left with glorious free time on her hands, the only question is: Dare she invite her grad school crush for an after-dinner drink on a snowy night?
Accomplished, take-no-prisoners art historian Adrianna Coates has built an enviable career since Charlotte saw her last. She’s brilliant. Sophisticated. Impressive as hell and strikingly beautiful.
Hospitable, too, as she absolutely insists Charlotte spend the night on her pullout sofa as the storm rages on.
One night becomes three and three nights become a hot and adventurous long-distance relationship when Charlotte returns to the States. But when Adrianna plots her next career move just as Charlotte finally opens a door in academia, distance may not be the only thing that keeps them apart.
I will admit to raising my eyebrows—sardonically, of course—at the way Charlotte and Adrianna fell in love as soon as they fell into bed, but shortly thereafter, I was totally rooting for them to overcome their obstacles and get their HEA.
To be fair, they do have a pre-existing relationship, so this is not the story of two strangers falling in love, but they do go from acquaintances to… not…very quickly. But when something feels right, you go with it.
Although the title refers to where Charlotte and Adrianna initially meet, most of the book doesn’t take place in Madrid *and* the protagonists spend most of the book apart. BUT, thanks to modern technology, they can still be together even when they’re in two different places.
And on that note, the chemistry is 100% scorching hot, and one can only surmise that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is the reason why they can’t keep their hands off each other when they’re in the same place. And why they have erotically-charged video chats.
There’s a ton to like about this book: the protagonists are both Black women who work in academia. They’re also a bit older than the average age of romance protagonists, which is wonderful—I don’t mind reading about people barely out of college, but it’s always a nice change of pace to read about people (whispers) my own age. But I am here for the academic drama and I am here for shutting down critics—no, it is not just a cartoon rabbit. I know that probably doesn’t make much sense, but read the book to find out what I’m talking about.
Because Charlotte and Adrianna spend most of their time apart, they are bolstered by secondary characters like James and Esther, who both deserve books of their own, although not together, of course.
I would absolutely recommend Meet Me in Madrid. It took me a few chapters to get into the story, but once I got hooked, I couldn’t put the book down. This is a tender and sweet love story and I couldn’t get enough of the descriptions of food—yum! I am looking forward to reading more from Lowell in the future.
I received an ARC of this book from Carina Press/NetGalley
The car arrived with the luggage while they were still flirting and deliberating in the kitchen, the cava as yet unpoured. Hearing the buzzer, Adrianna had reluctantly thrown on a robe and slippers and run down the three flights, leaving Charlotte still leaning on the counter to contemplate what came next.
“I’m putting your very nice suitcase in my room,” a breathless Adrianna said as soon as she closed the apartment door behind her. “It won’t fit in the study.”
It would have fit in the study. But it fit a lot better in the bedroom.
“I’m out here,” Charlotte informed her. She had taken the bottle and glasses and resituated herself on the living room sofa. If it had been in the States, the long, upholstered couch with its plethora of throw pillows would have sat smack-dab in front of a flat-screen TV. This one, by refreshing contrast, faced a wall of tall, arched casement windows looking onto mostly sky and a distant cityscape punctuated by the city’s numerous church towers. Today the potted trees and summer furniture on the neighboring balconies were coated with an inch or two of velvety snow.
What sun there had been was already dimming.
Adrianna was surprised, but certainly not disappointed, to find Charlotte curled up at one end of said sofa, glass in hand, taking it all in just as she herself liked to do at sunset.
“It’s beautiful,” Charlotte said. “Doesn’t look like any place else I’ve been.”
“Sure doesn’t.” Adrianna sat down close beside Charlotte. Encouragingly close, she hoped.
Charlotte filled Adrianna’s flute with pale bubbly and raised hers in a wordless toast. Their glasses clinked.
“What are we drinking to?” Adrianna asked.
“Bank closures and oversold hotels?” Charlotte replied with a laugh and a gulp. Her legs were folded under her and as she went to set down her glass, she slipped into Adrianna’s shoulder, not seeming to mind at all when Adrianna leaned into her and caught her eye.
“If you’d have looked at me like that in school, I’m not sure what I would have done,” Charlotte said.
“I can’t promise I never did,” Adrianna admitted. “Especially there at the end.”
“You were definitely shopping around at one point, as I recall. Like a freshman for new classes,” Charlotte said. “Least that’s what it looked like from where I stood.”
“I was a train wreck,” Adrianna said solemnly. “My ex cheated on me with someone I cared about and I was worried to death I wouldn’t get a job—and interviewing cross-country practically every week while I finished the last chapter of my diss. Those days seem incomparably easy, yet completely impossible when I look back. But I fucked things up with a lot of people and I hate thinking about it.”
“Your heart was broken,” Charlotte said, reaching for the cava. She’d stopped looking at Adrianna but her voice conveyed empathy.
Had someone broken Charlotte’s heart? Adrianna wanted badly to know.
“And I did that to others in return,” she said.
“You are indeed a heartbreaker,” Charlotte laughed.
“You’re one to talk,” Adrianna replied. “I can’t believe you weren’t dating your pretty little ass off—or seeing faculty on the sly at least. I don’t think I do believe it.”
“Well, you can believe it or not. I’m not saying I didn’t sleep around some. But grads and faculty were off-limits. Not out of moral approbation. I just knew it would throw me off my game. I don’t mind telling you I had tempting offers from both parties.”
Good thing Adrianna wasn’t one of those former suitors. It was so much better finding her again like this, now that they were both past the stage of perpetual heightened insecurity. Now that there was no history with Charlotte, only possibility.
Neither of them were drunk, just usefully relaxed, their inhibitions disarmed by the alcohol, their focus sharpened by the caffeine.
Adrianna set down her own near-empty glass and turned toward Charlotte.
“Let’s toast to layovers instead.”
“Come here,” Adrianna said, just to see how Charlotte reacted to being told what to do.
“Make me,” she replied, finishing what was left in her flute and starting to rise.
“Where are you going now?”
“I’m thirsty. Think I’ll get a glass of water…”
“Fuck the water,” Adrianna said. She pulled Charlotte back down to her for a deep, wet kiss that burned deliciously from the sparkling wine in her mouth and on their lips. Charlotte responded with a kind of unrestraint, immediately taking the lead. God did she. Adrianna suddenly seemed to feel her touch everywhere.
It was one of those moments when you don’t realize how much you want something—someone—until she’s within reach. She wasn’t going to lose her second chance.
About the Author
Verity Lowell is a professor and occasional curator who writes queer of color romance. She likes imagining and describing a world where art, ambition, and history provide the background for diverse and steamy love stories, mostly about women falling hard for women. She and her partner and their cats live in New England and sometimes elsewhere.
Find Verity Lowell Online
Carina Adores is home to highly romantic contemporary love stories featuring beloved romance tropes, where LGBTQ+ characters find their happily-ever-afters.
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