I'm not sure how it's possible, but Just Past Two is even hotter than Three-Way Split. The plot is fairly straightforward: a married couple goes to a college reunion and events there set off a very sexy chain reaction. Their sex life has been reliable and consistent, but now they can be honest about their needs and fantasies and the results are a rollercoaster of sexual gratification and fear of rejection.
Hooked on You is a mostly cute romance with a few choices that are complicated. The book is largely about two women in their 50s discovering that their sexualities are not as clearly defined as they thought for most of their lives. And it’s tricky telling a story like this because it can so easily come off as the cringey “gay for you” trope and wildly biphobic, but I think Matthews pulls off the exploration of sexuality well.
While I really enjoyed American Dreamer, I adored American Fairytale. I loved the angst, and the sources of conflict between Tom and Milo. I particularly appreciated how Herrera contrasted the various complicated caretaking relationships in the book. Dinorah’s mental health struggles were compassionately depicted, Herrera is able to skillfully present the worry, guilt and occasional resentment Milo carries, while still presenting Dinorah as sympathetic and frankly fascinating character in her own right. Her history, choices and reactions are her own, and not simply something Milo has to respond or is able to solve for her. Likewise Tom has to learn how not swoop in and try to throw money at problems and instead learn to listen and do the harder work of being present in order to have Milo feel like a partner to a problem to be solved.
Though they're in the same series, Wrong Bed, Right Girl is totally different from Wrong Bed, Right Roommate. The heroine in this one, Talia, is the sister of the hero in WBRR, and she's just moved out of the apartment to let her brother and best friend have their own space. Unfortunately, the prima ballerina she's subletting from was an informant for the DEA and she's left town and the ballet for *reasons.* Talia's pretty much taken over her life, which means that when Reed comes to check on Stacey, he ends up literally falling into the bed that's now Talia's.
Comics Will Break Your Heart is a Romeo & Juliet-style young adult romance that features the youngest generation of two feuding comics families. Miriam's mother settled the big lawsuit case years ago, after her father died, but now the TomorrowMen franchise is massive and has spawned a sure-to-be-huge live action film. Miriam is resentful, even before the scion of the Warrick family, Weldon, shows up in town for the summer. Weldon has been sent back to his father's hometown so as to "not be a distraction" to his father.
Playing Around by Suzanne Clay is an extremely diverse book. Two main characters are POC, one of their roommates is of Asian descent, and one of the relatively important characters is trans. The college where the story is happening is very liberal, in contrast to the hometown of the main characters, where the population is … all white.
This book has a central bodyguard trope, but what is also important is that it has Mish. In the first two books in the series, we’ve gotten to know the rest of the characters quite well, but I was always intrigued by Mish and we just saw her from the perspective of her little chosen family. She's been strong badass rocker who takes no shit. In this book though, we see things from her POV and see how much there is behind the face she wears in public.
Chastised for being unable to cry at his best-friend and cousin’s funeral, Khải comes to believe that he is unnaturally unfeeling, unable to love. Khải is actually autistic, a diagnosis his immigrant Vietnamese family mostly ignores, instead thinking him as simply a little strange. In Vietnam, My/Esme is just a bit strange too, but in her Khải’s mother sees the perfect bride for her son - humble, hard-working and honest.
While The Bride Test is at points quite funny, at its center it is a deeply emotional story about familial bonds and an immigrant's desperate striving to make a better life for herself and her family. Hoang parallels My’s experiences as a new immigrant trying to figure out the rules of a new culture as an outsider to Khải’s autism and his efforts to navigate the feelings and reactions he doesn’t fully understand. Both My and Khải have to work very hard to decode each other’s feelings and intentions, working to overcome their differing cultural expectations and learn each other boundaries.
Five years ago, Pat and Fen almost stole the spotlight from Curtis and DaSilva in Charles’s Think of England. Their mismatched charm, and utter competence save the day and left readers begging for their story. Proper English, a delightfully dark house party mystery, is that story, set two years before Think of England. While the focus in Proper English is firmly on the central quartet of Jimmy, Billie, Pat and Fen, Charles continues to excels at creating with fascinating secondary characters who love to steal scenes. From the loyal and serious Victoria Singh, to the tart and savvy Travers, Charles fills this novel with women who are not to be underestimated, not even brittle and bitter Lady Anna.
Getting Hot with the Scot is a whirlwind roadtrip romance with a just-a-fling beginning and a swoonworthy hero. Reader, I loved it.