The One True Me and You by Remi K. England

Book Description

One small fandom convention. One teen beauty pageant.
One meet cute waiting to happen.

Up and coming fanfic author Kaylee Beaumont is internally screaming at the chance to finally meet her fandom friends in real life and spend a weekend at GreatCon. She also has a side quest for the weekend:

· Try out they/them pronouns to see how it feels
· Wear more masculine-presenting cosplay
· Kiss a girl for the first time

It’s…a lot, and Kay mostly wants to lie face down on the hotel floor. Especially when her hometown bully, Miss North Carolina, shows up in the very same hotel. But there’s this con-sponsored publishing contest, and the chance to meet her fandom idols…and then, there’s Teagan.

Pageant queen Teagan Miller (Miss Virginia) has her eye on the much-needed prize: the $25,000 scholarship awarded to the winner of the Miss Cosmic Teen USA pageant. She also has secrets:

· She loves the dresses but hates the tiaras
· She’s a giant nerd for everything GreatCon
· She’s gay af

If Teagan can just keep herself wrapped up tight for one more weekend, she can claim the scholarship and go off to college out and proud. If she’s caught, she could lose everything she’s worked for. If her rival, Miss North Carolina, has anything to do with it, that’s exactly how it’ll go down.

When Teagan and Kay bump into one another the first night, sparks fly. Their connection is intense—as is their shared enemy. If they’re spotted, the safe space of the con will be shattered, and all their secrets will follow them home. The risks are great…but could the reward of embracing their true selves be worth it?

A big-hearted, joyful romance and a love letter to all things geek, Remi K. England’s The One True Me and You is a *witness me* celebration of standing up for, and being, yourself.

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Golden Boys by Phil Stamper

Book Description

National bestselling author Phil Stamper crafts the perfect summer friendship story, starring four queer boys with big hearts and even bigger dreams.

It’s the summer before senior year. Gabriel, Reese, Sal, and Heath are best friends, bonded in their small, rural town by their queerness, their good grades, and their big dreams. But they have plans for the summer, each about to embark on a new adventure.

Gabriel is volunteering at an environmental nonprofit in Boston.
Reese is attending design school in Paris.
Sal is interning on Capitol Hill for a senator.
Heath is heading to Florida, to help out at his aunt’s boardwalk arcade.

What will this season of world-expanding travel and life-changing experiences mean for each of them–and for their friendship?

Phil Stamper treats readers to an emotionally resonant summer story, full of aspirational experiences, sweet romance, and joyously affirming friendship.

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Season’s Change by Cait Nary

Book Description

A veteran hockey player and a rookie can’t get away from each other—or their own desires—in this sexy, heartfelt opposites-attract hockey romance.  

Olly Järvinen has a long way to go. He’s got a fresh start playing for a new team, but getting his hockey career back on track is going to take more than a change of scenery. He’s got to shut his past out and focus. On the game, not on his rookie roommate and his annoyingly sunny disposition—and annoyingly distracting good looks.

All Benji Bryzinski ever wanted was to play in the big leagues, and he’s not going to waste one single second of his rookie season. Yoga, kale smoothies and guided meditation help keep his head in the game. But his roommate keeps knocking him off track. Maybe it’s just that Olly is a grumpy bastard. Or maybe it’s something else, something Benji doesn’t have a name for yet.

Olly and Benji spend all their time together—on the ice, in the locker room, in their apartment—and ignoring their unspoken feelings isn’t making them go away. Acting on attraction is one thing, but turning a season’s fling into forever would mean facing the past—and redefining the future.

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Satisfaction Guaranteed by Karelia Stetz-Waters.

Book Description

Opposites attract in this playful and laugh-out-loud rom-com from Lambda Award finalist Karelia Stetz-Waters.

Cade Elgin has a life and career in New York City, and she’s determined to get back to both as soon as possible after her aunt’s funeral in Portland. However, when she unexpectedly inherits her aunt’s sex toy store — and has to save it from foreclosure — Cade realizes she’s not going anywhere. But making Share the Love profitable won’t be as easy as Cade had hoped. Her new partner has an infuriating lack of business sense, and an infuriating ability to turn Cade on.

Selena Mathis knows that nothing is more important than saving Share the Love. Not her pride, not her inconvenient attraction toward her new business partner. Cade may be more buttoned-up than Selena usually goes for, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t know how to turn the store around. But the more they work together, the harder it becomes for Selena to ignore her growing feelings for Cade. And she starts to wonder if there is something more important than saving Share the Love.

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The Missing Page by Cat Sebastian

Book Description

England, 1948: Semi-retired spy Leo Page and country doctor James Sommers team up to solve a decades-old mystery.

When James learns that an uncle he hasn’t heard from in ages has left him something in his will, he figures that the least he can do is head down to Cornwall for a weekend to honor the old man’s parting wishes. He finds the family home filled with half-remembered guests and unwanted memories, but more troubling is that his uncle has tasked his heirs with uncovering the truth behind a woman’s disappearance twenty years earlier.

Leo doesn’t like any of it. He’s just returned from one of his less pleasant missions and maybe he’s slightly paranoid about James’s safety, but he’s of the opinion that rich people aren’t to be trusted where wills are concerned. So he does what any sensible spy would do and infiltrates the house party.

Together they unravel a mystery that exposes long-standing family secrets and threatens to involve James more than either of them would like.

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Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly

Book Description

Recently divorced and on the verge of bankruptcy, Dahlia Woodson is ready to reinvent herself on the popular reality competition show Chef’s Special. Too bad the first memorable move she makes is falling flat on her face, sending fish tacos flying—not quite the fresh start she was hoping for. Still, she’s focused on winning, until she meets someone she might want a future with more than she needs the prize money. 

After announcing their pronouns on national television, London Parker has enough on their mind without worrying about the klutzy competitor stationed in front of them. They’re there to prove the trolls—including a fellow contestant and their dad—wrong, and falling in love was never part of the plan.

As London and Dahlia get closer, reality starts to fall away. Goodbye, guilt about divorce, anxiety about uncertain futures, and stress from transphobia. Hello, hilarious shenanigans on set, wedding crashing, and spontaneous dips into the Pacific. But as the finale draws near, Dahlia and London’s steamy relationship starts to feel the heat both in and outside the kitchen—and they must figure out if they have the right ingredients for a happily ever after.

My Review

I adored Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake, Alexis Hall’s baking show romance last summer, so I was very excited about another cooking show romance, and TL;DR—this book was everything I could have hoped for and more.  

Dahlia and London’s Odd Couple vibe is so charming, and at the risk of sounding too cliché, their differences are the reason they work so well together. There’s also a forced proximity element at play—they aren’t sharing a room with only one bed, but as contestants on a reality show, their mobility is somewhat limited. Of course, they are allowed out in the “real world” (no pun intended), which leads to some of the best scenes in the book.

With so many reality shows out there, there are plenty of elements to pick and choose and Frankenstein together a unique show, but Kelly really knocks it out of the park with Chef’s Special. The worldbuilding is fresh and fun, from the cooking challenges to the personalities of the judges and other contestants.

Speaking of which, there is an antagonist, but she is not given very much on-page time at all. This was a good decision because more interactions with this person would have been needlessly exhausting and taken away from the feel-good atmosphere of the book.

There is some moderate angst that had me wanting to break the fourth wall, but it was a necessary step in order to achieve the growth and introspection needed to achieve the HEA.

I would absolutely recommend Love & Other Disasters. It’s so refreshing to have a non-binary love interest in a romance novel, and having them come out on a cooking reality show validates their gender identity, not just for themselves but for the entire country. There is so much more I could write in this review, like London’s relationship with their father, or how all the cooking made me hungry, or Dahlia’s need for change on the heels of a divorce, but I’m going to end by repeating that this book was everything I could hope for and more.

I received a digital ARC of this book from Forever/NetGalley.

Proper Scoundrels by Allie Therin

Book Description

Their scandalous pasts have left them wounded and unworthy—and hopelessly perfect together.

London, 1925

Sebastian de Leon is adjusting to life after three years spent enthralled by blood magic. The atrocities he committed under its control still weigh heavily on his conscience, but when he’s asked to investigate a series of mysterious murders, it feels like an opportunity to make amends. Until he realizes the killer’s next likely target is a man who witnessed Sebastian at his worst—the Viscount Fine.

Lord Fine—known as Wesley to his friends, if he had any—is haunted by ghosts of his own after serving as a British army captain during the Great War. Jaded and untrusting, he’s tempted to turn Sebastian in, but there’s something undeniably captivating about the reformed paranormal, and after Sebastian risks his own life to save Wesley’s, they find common ground.

Seeking sanctuary together at Wesley’s country estate in Yorkshire, the unlikely pair begins to unravel a mystery steeped in legend and folklore, the close quarters emboldening them to see past the other’s trauma to the person worth loving beneath. But with growing targets on their backs, they’ll have to move quickly if they want to catch a killer—and discover whether two wounded souls can help each other heal.

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If You Love Something by Jayce Ellis: Review and Exclusive Excerpt

Book Description

If You Love Something by Jayce Ellis is available in trade paperback and eBook on December 28th!

A marriage lost is found again in this cheeky new romantic comedy from acclaimed author Jayce Ellis. 

As executive chef at one of the hottest restaurants in DC, DeShawn Franklin has almost everything he’s ever wanted. He’s well-known, his restaurant is Michelin starred and he can write his own ticket anywhere he wants. Until his grandmother calls him home and drops two bombshells:

1) She has cancer and she’s not seeking treatment.

2) She’s willing half her estate to DeShawn’s ex-husband, Malik.

Make that three bombshells. 

3) That whole divorce thing? It didn’t quite go through. DeShawn and Malik are still married.

And when DeShawn’s shady uncle contests Grandma’s will, there’s only one path back to justice: play it like he and Malik have reconciled. They need to act like a married couple just long enough to dispense with the lawsuit.

Once DeShawn is back in Malik’s orbit, it’s not hard to remember why they parted. All the reasons he walked away remain—but so do all the reasons he fell in love in the first place.

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If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich

Book Description

Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich’s “If This Gets Out is an absolute showstopper! Equal parts edgy and adorable, this bright, joyful book has everything I look for in a queer YA romance.” —Phil Stamper, bestselling author of The Gravity of Us

Eighteen-year-olds Ruben Montez and Zach Knight are two members of the boy-band Saturday, one of the biggest acts in America. Along with their bandmates, Angel Phan and Jon Braxton, the four are teen heartthrobs in front of the cameras and best friends backstage.

But privately, the pressure to stay in the closet has Ruben confiding in Zach.

On a whirlwind tour through Europe with an unrelenting schedule and minimal supervision, the two come to rely on each other more and more, and their already close friendship evolves into a romance. But when they decide they’re ready to tell their fans and live freely, Zach and Ruben realize they will never truly have the support they need.

How can they hold tight to each other when their whole world is coming apart?

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Rake I’d Like to F*** by Sierra Simone, Eva Leigh, Nicola Davidson, Adriana Herrera, and Joanna Shupe

Book Description

The Last Crimes of Peregrine Hind – Sierra Simone

Peregrine Hind, known to all as the bloodiest highwayman ever to bedevil the road, seeks only one thing—revenge against the Dartham family. And so when a robbery sends the second Dartham son and notorious rakehell Alexander Dartham tumbling to Peregrine’s feet, it seems like fate has given Peregrine his vengeance at last. Except then Alexander offers him a desperate bargain: to kidnap him instead, so Peregrine can harvest a generous ransom from Alexander’s family first. Peregrine agrees, but he’s in no way prepared for a captive like Alexander, who insists only on the softest beds and the finest wines…and who enjoys being tied up a little too much…

Two Rakes for Mrs. Sparkwell – Eva Leigh

The last thing Mrs. Vivian Sparkwell wants is to tie her life to another stifling husband. But thanks to the surprise terms of her last marriage contract, if she refuses any reasonable offer to wed again, she loses her widow’s portion. What she needs is a thorough and public ruining to make her would-be suitors cry off. Who better to provide the necessary scandal than notorious rake Rushton Cantley? Yet when Rush proposes that his friend, gaming hell bruiser Jack Morgan, join in on the ruination, Vivian can’t decide if she’s shocked—or aroused. How far is too far when infamy is on the line?

A Rake, His Patron, & Their Muse – Nicola Davidson

London playwright and notorious rake Lennox Townsend is renowned for bold melodrama and bolder pleasures. When he loses interest in both, his shy yet devoted patron Lord Jonathan Grant escorts him to a country boarding house managed by repressed widow, Mrs. Viola Prescott. The trio soon surrender to sizzling—and forbidden—passion, made sweeter as each share their deepest secrets and find acceptance of their true self. Yet cold reality is ever ready to intrude, and they know happiness is fleeting. Or is it?

Monsieur X – Adriana Herrera

Joseph Cantor Marshall never imagined reaching the pinnacle of artistic success would be so… uninspiring. Desperate for a spark of excitement he attends the notorious masked soirée at the most exclusive sex club in Paris. The moment he walks in he’s entranced by the mysterious X, the embodiment of the painter’s darkest fantasies. But X is as slippery as he is tempting, and soon Marshall’s days and nights are consumed by growing desire for his elusive lover. Will falling for X prove to be Marshall’s undoing or his greatest masterpiece?

Sold to the Duke – Joanna Shupe

Though she once lived a life of privilege, Lady Eliza is now destitute and desperate to care for her ill sister. She decides to sell the one thing of value she has left: her virginity. At the auction, a shocked Duke of Blackwood recognizes Eliza and refuses to allow her to fall into the clutches of a depraved bidder. But his role of noble rescuer is upended when the proud beauty insists on giving him his money’s worth…

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