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

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Fresh and upbeat, though not without flaws.

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

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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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