A sweet story of found family and the power of music.

THE GIRL WITH STARS IN HER EYES

Childhood best friends unexpectedly reunite when both start working for the same up-and-coming rock band.

Antonia Bennette spent her early childhood traipsing through the back rooms of clubs with her struggling-musician mother, Mary, watching as she lost herself to seedy club owners and a gambling addiction. That is, until Antonia was shipped off to live with Mo, the father she'd never met, who turned out to be an emotionally abusive bar owner in the middle-of-nowhere town of Bordon, Pennsylvania. If Antonia’s childhood wasn’t all bad, it was thanks to Sebastian Quigley. The two teens bonded over a shared a love of music and big dreams of escaping Bordon for good. But it’s been years since Seb left town and never looked back. Now Antonia, known publicly as Toni B, is a 25-year-old playing open-mic nights at a Philadelphia dive bar, and Seb is managing the members of breakout girl band The Lillys. When Seb fails to stop their guitarist from partying long enough to focus on the band’s big showcase, the group decides to teach her a lesson by temporarily replacing her. And Philly phenom Toni B is at the top of their list. Now Seb and Toni must put their differences aside to get what they want—for Seb, his band’s success; for Toni, enough money to buy into a studio and make her dream of producing music a reality. But they both know that the road to stardom never did run smooth, and their pasts are closer than they think. Axelrod prefers pages of internal monologue to a fast-moving plot, which makes for a repetitive reading experience. The characters are interesting, though, as is the author's deft take on the modern music industry.

A sweet story of found family and the power of music.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4926-9876-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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A heartfelt look at taking second chances, in life and in love.

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BEACH READ

Two struggling authors spend the summer writing and falling in love in a quaint beach town.

January Andrews has just arrived in the small town of North Bear Shores with some serious baggage. Her father has been dead for a year, but she still hasn’t come to terms with what she found out at his funeral—he had been cheating on her mother for years. January plans to spend the summer cleaning out and selling the house her father and “That Woman” lived in together. But she’s also a down-on-her-luck author facing writer’s block, and she no longer believes in the happily-ever-after she’s made the benchmark of her work. Her steadily dwindling bank account, though, is a daily reminder that she must sell her next book, and fast. Serendipitously, she discovers that her new next-door neighbor is Augustus Everett, the darling of the literary fiction set and her former college rival/crush. Gus also happens to be struggling with his next book (and some serious trauma that unfolds throughout the novel). Though the two get off to a rocky start, they soon make a bet: Gus will try to write a romance novel, and January will attempt “bleak literary fiction.” They spend the summer teaching each other the art of their own genres—January takes Gus on a romantic outing to the local carnival; Gus takes January to the burned-down remains of a former cult—and they both process their own grief, loss, and trauma through this experiment. There are more than enough steamy scenes to sustain the slow-burn romance, and smart commentary on the placement and purpose of “women’s fiction” joins with crucial conversations about mental health to add multiple intriguing layers to the plot.

A heartfelt look at taking second chances, in life and in love.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0673-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Jove/Penguin

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Love is a battlefield in this engaging wartime tale.

HIGHLAND WARRIOR

From the Sons of Sinclair series , Vol. 2

A warrior gives up everything for love in McCollum’s latest historical romance.

This second installment of the Sons of Sinclair series picks up with the story of Joshua Sinclair, the brutal Horseman of War who was last seen heading for foreign lands to polish up his mercenary skills. After a bloody battle at South Ronaldsay, Joshua travels to Orkney Isle to train Lord Robert Stuart’s soldiers in defensive maneuvers, though Joshua is far less interested in making war than he used to be. He’s ready to head back to his home when he’s waylaid by fierce fighter Kára. She’s desperate to help her people defend themselves from Lord Robert and his men, who, Joshua learns, hunted, raped, killed, and imprisoned many of them in the past. Joshua quickly falls for Kára, but he’s hesitant to join in her fight, as he’s seen the terrible cost of combat and knows that the Orkney inhabitants don’t stand a chance against the men he helped to train. But Kára’s persistence and her people’s desperate plight convinces him to help; he lobbies for a way to avoid to all-out war, but a murder and a kidnapping alter his plans. McCollum’s lengthy novel wastes no time jumping into a romance. Joshua and Kára kick their relationship off with a steamy sex scene early on, and the story’s pace never slows down. Joshua is a very attractive Scottish warrior, complete with bulging muscles and a soft side (he’s great with kids), but he’s also rather complicated. It’s a nice twist to see the Horseman of War seek out alternatives to violence, and it’s always lovely to see a swordswoman who’s fully capable of extracting herself from danger. A clever trick and other unexpected events precede the ending, which ties things up nicely.

Love is a battlefield in this engaging wartime tale.

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68281-570-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Entangled: Amara

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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