Delivers on the titular premise of “like,” but may not satisfy romance readers hoping for love.

FIRST COMES LIKE

A makeup artist and beauty influencer is the target of a catfishing scheme.

Jia Ahmed is a well-known internet sensation for her makeup tutorials and beauty tips, but she senses her star is waning and is tired of the pressure to create new content. She’s also determined to finally meet Dev Dixit, the man she’s been texting for a few months. His family is Bollywood royalty, but he’s a star in his own right, having spent a decade as the lead in one of India’s most famous serialized dramas. Dev moved to California for a part in an American show, but mostly he’s trying to escape the emotional turmoil caused by his brother’s unexpected death and the responsibility of becoming his niece’s guardian. When Jia approaches Dev at a party and he doesn’t recognize her, she is horrified and embarrassed to realize she was catfished. Appalled that his identity was stolen and used to hurt an innocent woman, Dev approaches her and they develop a cautious friendship. When the media gets hold of the story, the two pretend to be engaged to smooth things over with their respective families. Although Jia and Dev are completely likable, the book reads like mainstream fiction, not romance. The focus is on the thorny dilemmas the two face in trying to achieve professional goals and their individual navigation of complex and interesting family dynamics. Although they go on a few dates, most of their thin, hastily constructed love story is jammed into the last few chapters. Romance fans may wonder what happened to Rai’s trademark ability to craft deeply felt emotional connections between her main characters.

Delivers on the titular premise of “like,” but may not satisfy romance readers hoping for love.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-287815-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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A gentle love story perfect for anyone looking for love amid personal, family, and financial crises.

THE LOST AND FOUND BOOKSHOP

With her promotion to vice president of digital inventory at a Sonoma winery, Natalie Harper finally has the financial security she's always wanted, but a sudden tragedy sends her home to rescue her late mother's charming bookstore.

Once in San Francisco, Natalie moves back into her childhood home, an eclectic set of apartments above the bookshop, a home she shares with her grandfather Andrew, who is suffering from dementia and other mysterious ailments. Blythe, Natalie's mother, loved books, but she was not a savvy businesswoman. Natalie arrives to find unpaid bills and back taxes. Housed in the historic Sunrose Building, the bookshop certainly has stories of its own to tell: Originally a saloon and brothel, it was eventually bought by Natalie's great-grandparents, who converted it into a home and apothecary. Luckily, “hammer for hire” Peach Gallagher shows up. Strong and gorgeous, the contractor catches Natalie's eye, and he certainly is drawn to the curly-haired proprietress. But Peach doesn't date clients, and Natalie is gun-shy from her previous relationship. Plus, she's already met Peach’s adorable little girl, Dorothy. Natalie isn't about to break up a marriage, but she doesn’t know Peach is actually divorced. Wiggs skillfully manipulates the stock in trade of a master romance novelist as she orchestrates Peach and Natalie's inevitable love story. To challenge Peach, enter Trevor Dashwood, a gorgeous and wealthy children's book author, whose books have already won Dorothy's heart. Hosting a book signing with Trevor might help the store’s bottom line. Meanwhile, Natalie, Peach, and Andrew find historical artifacts hidden in the Sunrose building’s walls. Will it be enough to save the store?

A gentle love story perfect for anyone looking for love amid personal, family, and financial crises.

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-291409-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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