A look at what’s steaming up the shelves this month.
Raise your hand if you spent New Year’s Eve finishing one novel so you could start another on January 1st. Just me? (It was Elle Cosimano’s forthcoming Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead — highly recommended!) In any case, 2021 is in the rear view, and I’m looking forward to all of the wonderful books 2022 is going to deliver. Here are a couple of recent romance novels that wowed me. Happy New Year — and happy reading!
Kerry Rea’s debut romantic comedy, The Wedding Ringer (Berkley), is a sparkling, witty page-turner that left me eager for more from this talented author.
Blogger Willa Callister’s happy life falls apart when she catches her fiancé in bed with her best friend and subsequently loses her job when she is too heartbroken to work. She moves in with her sister and takes a gig appearing at children’s birthday parties as Princess Sparkleheart. Things really couldn’t get much worse — and then she meets Maisie Mitchell, a woman who needs a bridesmaid for her upcoming wedding as much as Willa needs the money Maisie is willing to pay for her to take on the unusual assignment.
Willa accepts the role as Maisie’s friend and bridesmaid and, through Maisie’s fiancé, Finn, meets sexy pediatrician Liam Rafferty. Well, meets him for a second time; they previously had an encounter at a children’s birthday party that didn’t exactly go well. As it turns out, once he gets past her defenses, Liam is just what the doctor ordered to help Willa get over her own heartbreak.
In the meantime, while their relationship starts out as a business transaction, Willa and Maisie are forging a very real friendship. After everything she’s been through, it looks like Willa has found a true friend — and maybe true love. Unless, of course, Finn and Liam find out that Willa was paid to be Maisie’s pal.
This clever, heartwarming tale has the best meet-cute ever, even if it happens to be between Willa and Maisie. Liam is the swoon-worthy hero Willa deserves, and author Rea weaves Willa’s mess of a life with plenty of empathy and humor, making for a relatable protagonist readers can root for and a resolution that will leave you with a smile.
Seressia Glass delivers a heartening balm for every reader’s inner geek with The Love Con (Berkley).
In this quirky, nerdy tale, Kenya Davenport is a talented costumer with a love for cosplay. She’s determined to turn her hobby into a career in costume design by being crowned the winner on the reality show “Cosplay or No Way.” Victory is within her grasp when she makes it to the final round of judging, but she panics when she learns the last challenge is about iconic couples.
The producers want the contestants to work with their real-life partners, and Kenya is single, so she blurts out the name of the only person she can think of who can help her win, her roommate and best friend, Cameron Lassiter.
Despite the fact that they aren’t actually a couple, Cam has the skills to be the perfect competition partner. As Kenya’s best friend, he’s more than willing to go along with the sham — and as someone who has been crushing on her forever, he’s hoping it will lead to more.
“Nerds in love” is the kind of hook that makes for good reality TV, but the couple’s growing romantic feelings lead to very real personal and professional complications. Then there’s the question of what happens when the cameras are off: Should they risk their friendship for a chance at love?
In this delightfully original tale, the fake-relationship trope gets new life in Glass’ capable hands. Readers will love Kenya’s fierce determination to pursue her passion, as well as the budding romance that’s built on a solid foundation of friendship, respect, and support.
Kristina Wright lives in Virginia with her husband, their two sons, two dogs, a cat, and a parrot. She’s the digital editor of Your Teen for Parents magazine, a regular contributor at BookBub, and a lifelong romance fan. Find her on Twitter at @kristinawright or on Bookshop, where she features other book recommendations.