A look at what’s steaming up the shelves this month.
Autumn used to be my favorite season, but the older I get, the more I appreciate spring. There’s a sense of anticipation as everything starts turning green and lush again. The birds are building nests, the rabbits are frolicking, and the world seems a little bit brighter and more colorful. Kind of like the books on my shelf — just check out the palette of pretty spring covers on the stories I loved this month!
Amanda Elliot delivers a delicious romance with plenty of sizzle in Best Served Hot (Berkley)!
By day, Julie Zimmerman is a low-paid executive assistant. By night, she’s a successful online restaurant reviewer and influencer who spends her free time exploring restaurants in Manhattan. Julie would love to go pro and become a food critic for a prestigious newspaper like the New York Scroll, but even though her JulieZeeEatsNYC social media account has a large and dedicated following, someone else lands her dream job — Bennett Wright.
Bennett is everything Julie loathes, from his high-society background to his snobbery about food and social media. An argument ensues when the two cross paths at a food festival, and the video of their interaction goes viral, increasing the number of followers for both Julie and the newspaper. To keep the momentum going, she and Bennett strike an interesting deal: They’ll co-write their restaurant reviews.
Despite Julie’s and Bennett’s very different approaches, their shared love of food brings the two unlikely partners closer. Elliot has a knack for crafting scenes that would make any foodie’s mouth water even as she’s ramping up the sexual tension between her protagonists. Best Served Hot is a delectably sweet and spicy enemies-to-lovers romcom from an author who knows the way to a food writer’s heart is always through their stomach.
Sarah Hawley’s A Witch’s Guide to Fake Dating a Demon (Berkley) is my favorite paranormal romance so far this year, and it’s going to be hard to top!
According to prophecy, Mariel Spark is supposed to be the most powerful witch her family has ever seen. It’s a lot to live up to, especially for a witch who seems to mess up every spell she attempts to cast. So, when a simple hex goes terribly wrong and Mariel conjures a demon, she’s desperate to hide her mistake from her demanding, overbearing mother. Even if it means pretending to date her accidental creation.
Ozroth the Ruthless, though, isn’t just any demon, he’s one of the most dangerous and powerful devils of all time. Unfortunately, he botched his last soul-bargaining, and it hurt his reputation and caused problems with his boss. What no one knows is that he’s still in possession of the last soul he was supposed to collect — and it’s causing him to feel things like empathy, loneliness, and maybe even love.
Mariel has no intention of selling her soul to a demon, but the more time she spends with Oz, the more she likes having him around. Their forced proximity is also having a strange effect on Oz; he starts to feel conflicted about taking Mariel’s soul, which would also mean taking her emotions — and her magic.
Witches and demons may seem better suited to Halloween, but Mariel’s gift for nature-based magic makes this is a perfect springtime read. Oz is adorable as the beastly demon with a newly acquired heart of gold, and the heat between them makes for some seriously sexy scenes. A mix of quirky, mystical secondary characters adds to the fun. I can’t wait to read the next book in this delightful series!
Two old friends and their feuding families are forced to share a beach house in Ginny Baird’s Right Girl, Wrong Side (Sourcebooks Casablanca).
Evita Machado is going on vacation with her entire extended family, and she can’t wait. Her mother placed the winning bid on a stay in Nantucket, and she’s taking everybody along. Evita’s excited to get away from her flower shop and the constant reminders of her ex-fiancé, but she’s dreading breaking the news about her relationship status to her old-fashioned parents.
The vacay takes an unexpected turn when Evita’s high school crush, Ryan Hatfield, along with his parents and sister, show up. There was some mistake in the auction bidding, leading Ryan’s mother to think she’d won the getaway. Thanks to a longstanding feud between their mothers, Evita and Ryan have never been able to pursue the spark of attraction that started when they were teens. Now, with neither matriarch willing to back down and forfeit her vacation, the two families are forced to declare a temporary truce and share the (very large) house.
While the book’s premise stretches credulity a bit, the interactions between the families (think “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”) make for some entertaining and surprisingly poignant scenes. The developing romance between Evita and Ryan is slow and sweet (after all, they’re sharing space with their parents and siblings) but heartfelt and believable. Baird has written a lovely romance that left me longing for my own beach escape!
Kristina Wright lives in Virginia with her husband, their two sons, two dogs, a cat, and a parrot. She’s a regular contributor at BookBub and a lifelong fan of romance fiction. Find her on Twitter at @kristinawright or on Bookshop, where she features her book recommendations.