Book Showcase: TALK BOOKISH TO ME by Kate Bromley

Harlequin Trade Publishing Summer 2021 Blog Tour Banner; Beach Reads, background features a slice of watermelon, a candy sucker, pair of sunglasses, and a flower; foreground contains four beach read covers: THE SUMMER SEEKERS, THE CLOVER GIRLS, TALK BOOKISH TO ME, and LADY SUNSHINE.

Talk Bookish To Me by Kate Bromley
ISBN: 9781525806438 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9780369701169 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488211300 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B08PDTV12Z (Audible)
ASIN: B08FTF3D2M (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Graydon House Books
Release Date: May 25, 2021
Genre: Fiction | Contemporary Romance | Romantic Comedy

 Inspiration can come from the most unlikely—and inconvenient—sources.

Kara Sullivan’s life is full of love—albeit fictional. As a bestselling romance novelist and influential bookstagrammer, she’s fine with getting her happily-ever-after fix between the covers of a book.

But right now? Not only is Kara’s best friend getting married next week—which means big wedding stress—but the deadline for her next novel is looming, and she hasn’t written a single word. The last thing she needs is for her infuriating first love, Ryan Thompson, to suddenly appear in the wedding party. But Ryan’s unexpected arrival sparks a creative awakening in Kara that inspires the steamy historical romance she desperately needs to deliver.

With her wedding duties intensifying, her deadline getting closer by the second and her bills not paying themselves, Kara knows there’s only one way for her to finish her book and to give her characters the ever-after they deserve. But can she embrace the unlikely, ruggedly handsome muse—who pushes every one of her buttons—to save the wedding, her career and, just maybe, write her own happy ending?

 

“A fun and sexy romp, with chemistry that gave me all the feels!” —Jennifer Probst, New York Times bestselling author of Our Italian Summer

“Add this book to your TBR list immediately!” —Sarah Smith, author of Faker

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Read An Excerpt:

 

One

“Wait, was I supposed to bring a gift?”

I turn my gaze from the floor to the well-dressed man standing beside me. There are only two of us in the elevator, so he must be talking to me.

“I think it’s a matter of personal preference,” I answer. “I’m the maid of honor so I had to be excessive.”

His eyebrows bob up as I adjust my grip on the Great-Dane-sized gift basket I’m carrying. The cellophane wrapping paper crinkles each time I move, echoing through the confined space just loudly enough to keep things weird. Because if everyone isn’t uncomfortable for the entire ride, are you even really in an elevator?

I’m low-key ecstatic when the doors glide open ten seconds later. With my basket now on the cusp of breaking both my arms and my spirit, I beeline it out of there and stride into the rooftop lounge where my best friend is hosting her pre-wedding party, drinking in the scent of heat and champagne as I maneuver through the sea of guests.

Like most maids-of-honor, I flung myself down the Etsy rabbit hole headfirst and ordered an obscene amount of decorations for tonight’s event. Burlap “Mr. & Mrs.” banners dangle from floating shelves behind the bar as twinkle lights weave around the balcony railings like ivy. Lace-trimmed mason jars filled with pink roses sit on every candlelit cocktail table. Cristina and I worked with the tenacity of two matrimonial Spartans to get everything ready this morning, and it’s clear that our blood, sweat and tears were very much worth it.

It’s then that I spot Cristina mingling near the end of the bar. Beautiful, petite and come-hither curvy, I’d hate her if she weren’t one of my favorite people ever. Her caramel hair spills down her back and her white high-low dress sets her apart from the crowd in just the right way—she’s a princess in the forest and we’re her adoring woodland animals. I’m her feisty chipmunk sidekick to my core.

I place my gift on a nearby receiving table and give a little wave when I catch her eye. She’s waiting for me with a huge grin when I arrive at her side.

“Hey, lady!” she says, pulling me in for a hug. “Look at you, rolling in here looking all gorgeous.”

We step apart and I stand up a bit taller. “Why, thank you. I feel pretty good.”

It’s also very possible that Cristina is just so used to me dazzling the world with yoga pants and sweaters every day that my transformation seems more dramatic than it is.

“Were you able to get any writing done this afternoon?” she asks, handing me a glass of champagne from off the mahogany bar top.

I get a twisting knot in my gut at the mention of my writing, or lack thereof. Having been dying a slow literary death for almost a year, I’m never without some stomach-turning sensation for long. The final deadline for my next romance novel is officially a month away and if I don’t deliver a bestseller by then—

“Okay, you’re making your freak-out face,” Cristina interjects. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have brought it up.”

I inhale a shallow breath and force a smile. “It’s fine. I’m good.”

“Let’s switch gears—are you sure it’s not weird that I’m having a pre-wedding party? Was booking the salsa band too much since I’m having one at the wedding, too?”

Beyond grateful for the booming trumpet and bongos that are drowning out my own thoughts, I turn to the corner and find the ten-piece group playing with addictive abandon. Cristina’s relatives, who are essentially non-trained professional salsa dancers, dominate the dance floor, and rightfully so. Cristina’s brother, Edgar, once tried to teach me the basics but I’m fairly confident I looked like a plank of wood that was given the gift of limbs. Cristina recommended dance lessons. Edgar suggested a bottle of aguardiente and prayer.

“The band is amazing,” I say as I swing back around, “and of course people have pre-wedding parties.” I’ve actually never heard of a pre-wedding party. An engagement party, yes. A bachelorette party, absolutely. But what’s going down tonight is basically a casual reception days before the mega-reception.

“Jason and I just have so many people coming in from out of town, plus we wanted the bridal party to get acquainted. We figured a little get-together would be fun.”

“I’m all for it. Who doesn’t want to pre-game for a wedding a week in advance?”

“I know I do,” Cristina says, lifting her own champagne and taking a sip. “Everyone is here except Jason and some groomsmen. Can you believe that creep is late to his own party?”

“Should you really be calling your fiancé a creep?”

“He’s my creep so it’s okay.”

“Valid point.”

“Picture please! Will you girls get together?”

I look to my right and find a teenage boy with wildly curly hair pointing a camera at us. He’s dressed in all black and looks so eager to take our photo that I can’t help but to find him endearing.

“Absolutely! Big smile, Kara.” Cristina throws her arm around my waist and after we withstand an intense flash, the young man is gone before my eyes can readjust. “That was Jason’s cousin, Rob. He wants to be a photographer, so I hired him for the night.”

“That was thoughtful of you,” I say, still recovering from my momentary blindness. “By the way, where is Jason?”

“He’s still at home. Two of his groomsmen are driving up and he wanted to wait for them since, apparently, grown men can’t find their way to a party by themselves.”

“Driving in Manhattan is intimidating. He probably didn’t want them to get lost.”

“Right, because neither of them has GPS? Jason should be here.”

I’m honestly shocked that Jason isn’t here. I love Cristina and Jason both to death but they’re one of those couples that rarely go out socially without each other. Even when I invite Cristina over to my apartment for a wine night, she asks to bring Jason. I’ve always thought it was a bit much, but I guess it works for them.

“Okay, forget everyone else, let’s toast.” I clear my throat and hold up my champagne. “When we were both waitressing at McMahon’s Pub in grad school, I had no idea it would lead to nine amazing years of friendship. Now I’d be lost without you. Here’s to you having a magical night. I’m so glad I’m here to celebrate with you.”

We smile and tap our glasses together, the ding of the crystal echoing my words.

I take a sip and the bubbly drink slips easily down my throat. Still savoring the sweetness, I ask, “So, who are these mystery groomsmen Jason’s waiting for?”

“One is named Beau and I can’t remember the other one. They’re two guys he grew up with when his family lived in North Carolina.”

“North Carolina? I thought Jason was from Texas?”

“He spent most of his life in Texas, but he lived in North Carolina until he was ten. He somehow kept in contact with these two through the years.”

“That’s nice, him staying friends with them for so long.”

“Yeah, it’s adorable, but they still should have gotten their asses here on their own.” Cristina is poised to elaborate when her gaze locks on something across the room. She tries and fails to look annoyed instead of excited.

“I’m guessing the groom has arrived,” I say, glancing over my shoulder. My suspicions are confirmed as I see Jason making his way toward us, smiling at Cristina like a fifth grader saying “cheese” on picture day. He’s tilting his head and everything.

“There she is! There’s my incredibly forgiving future wife.” Jason leans down and kisses Cristina before she can verbally obliterate him. He gives me a quick kiss on the cheek next and then shifts back to his fiancée’s side, sneaking an arm around her waist and pulling her to his hip.

“So, I’m going to go ahead and disregard all the semi-violent text messages you’ve sent me over the past hour. Bearing that in mind, how’s everything going?”

Cristina looks up at him, feigning disinterest. “It’s going great. Since you weren’t here, I talked to several nice men. Turns out, pre-wedding parties are a great place to meet guys.”

“I’m so happy for you.”

“I appreciate that. Four contenders, specifically, really piqued my interest.”

“Are they taller than me?” Jason asks. “Do they make a lot of money?”

“Obviously. They’re way taller and all of them are independently wealthy.”

“Nice. Kara, did you meet these freakishly tall and rich men?”

“I did and spoiler alert, I’m engaged now, too! Double wedding here we come!”

Jason smiles and pulls Cristina in even closer, his gaze holding hers. “I guess this is where being late gets you. I’m sorry I wasn’t here. Do you forgive me?”

“Don’t I always?”

He leans down and gives her another picture-perfect kiss.

It’s official. I’m dying alone. Just putting that out there.

“Now, where are these friends of yours? Oh! Let’s set one of them up with Kara!” Cristina looks at me with a dangerous matchmaker gleam in her eyes.

“Actually, I already mentioned Kara, and one of my buddies said he went to college with her.”

Went to college with me?

Jason looks towards the entrance and waves. “Hey, Ryan! Come over here!”

And then I go catatonic. I can’t move. I stand stock still, looking at Cristina like she sprouted a third arm out of her forehead and it’s giving me the middle finger.

Someone walks past me and a soft breeze ghosts across my overheating skin. I stare in a state of utter disbelief as Ryan Thompson steps into view beside Jason.

“It’s been a while, Sullivan,” he says, his voice as steady and tempting as ever.

My champagne glass falls from my fingers and shatters against the floor.

“Kara?” Cristina’s voice rings with concern as she nudges us away from the broken glass that’s now littered around our feet. She grasps my elbow, but I don’t feel it. She could backhand me across the face with a polo mallet and I wouldn’t feel it. My mind is spiraling, plummeting inwards as I come to grips with the realization that Ryan is standing two feet away from me.

Dressed in a navy suit, a crisp white button-down and brown dress shoes, he’s come a long way from the sweatshirts and jeans that were his unofficial uniform in college. His dirty-blond hair is on the shorter side, but a few wayward strands still fall across his forehead. Ten years ago, I would have reached up and brushed them aside without a thought. Now, my hand curls into a tight, unforgiving fist at my side.

If we were another former couple, seeing each other for the first time in a decade might be a dreamy, serendipitous meet-cute—a Nancy Meyers movie in pre-production. We’d have a few drinks and spend hours reminiscing about old times before picking up right where we left off. It would be comfortable and familiar as anything, like a sip of hot chocolate at Christmas with Nat King Cole crooning on vinyl in the background.

But we are not that kind of former couple, and I’m convinced that if Nat King Cole were here and knew my side of the story, he would grab Ryan by the scruff of his shirt and hold him steady as I roundhouse-kicked him in the throat.

It’s a tough pill to swallow but Ryan looks good. Like, really good. His face is harder than it was when he was twenty-one and the stubble on his chin tells me he hasn’t shaved in a few days, making him seem like he just rolled out of bed. And not rolled out of bed in a dirty way, but in a “I just rolled out of bed and yet I still look ruggedly handsome and you fully want to make out with me” kind of way.

The bastard.

“Ryan,” Cristina says, always the first to jump in, “Jason mentioned that you and Kara went to college together.”

“We did.” His eyes don’t move from mine for even a second. “It’s got to be what, ten years now?”

“Yeah, it’s been a long, long time,” I say quickly, turning to face Cristina. “I think I may have mentioned him before. Remember my friend from North Carolina?”

If someone were to look up “my friend from North Carolina” in the Dictionary of Kara, they would find the following:

My friend from North Carolina (noun): 1. Ryan Thompson. 2. My college boyfriend. 3. My first real boyfriend ever. 4. My first love. 5. Taker of my virginity. 6. Guy who massacred my heart with a rusty sledgehammer and fed the remains to rabid, ravenous dogs.

Cristina is well versed in the dictionary of Kara and recognition washes over her. “No way,” she says, her voice dropping.

“Yes way,” I answer happily, overcompensating.

Now’s it’s Cristina’s turn to panic. “Wow. Okay, wow, what a small world, huh?” She grabs Jason’s hand in an iron grip, making him wince as she blasts an over-the-top smile. “Well, we should give you guys a chance to catch up. My abuelita just got here so Jason and I are going to say hello.”

“Your abuelita died two years ago,” I hiss.

“I know, it’s a miracle. See you two later!” She drags her soon-to-be husband away before he can get a word out.

I watch them go, sailing away like the last lifeboat as I stand on deck with the string quartet, the cheerful Bach melody only further confirming that this ship is going down.

Excerpt from Talk Bookish To Me by Kate Bromley.

Copyright © 2021 by Kate Bromley. Published by Graydon House Books

All Rights Reserved. Used With Permission.

 

Meet The Author

Author - Kate Bromley photo credit Samantha Rayward City HeadshotsKATE BROMLEY lives in New York City with her husband, son, and her somewhat excessive collection of romance novels (It’s not hoarding if it’s books, right?). She was a preschool teacher for seven years and is now focusing full-time on combining her two great passions – writing swoon-worthy love stories and making people laugh. Talk Bookish to Me is her first novel.

Connect with the Author:

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This excerpt brought to you courtesy of Graydon House Books

2019 Book 203: WAITING FOR TOM HANKS by Kerry Winfrey

Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey 
ISBN: 9781984804020 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781984804037 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781984890467 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07HLP2MN3 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 11, 2019 
Publisher: Berkley


A rom-com-obsessed romantic waiting for her perfect leading man learns that life doesn’t always go according to a script in this delightfully charming and funny novel.

Annie Cassidy dreams of being the next Nora Ephron. She spends her days writing screenplays, rewatching Sleepless in Seattle, and waiting for her movie-perfect meet-cute. If she could just find her own Tom Hanks—a man who’s sweet, sensitive, and possibly owns a houseboat—her problems would disappear and her life would be perfect. But Tom Hanks is nowhere in sight.

When a movie starts filming in her neighborhood and Annie gets a job on set, it seems like a sign. Then Annie meets the lead actor, Drew Danforth, a cocky prankster who couldn’t be less like Tom Hanks if he tried. Their meet-cute is more of a meet-fail, but soon Annie finds herself sharing some classic rom-com moments with Drew. Her Tom Hanks can’t be an actor who’s leaving town in a matter of days…can he?





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To say that Annie Cassidy is obsessed with romantic-comedy films is somewhat of an understatement. She majored in film in college and has studied all things romantic-comedy. She has a picture of Nora Ephron in her bedroom beside a picture of her parents. Her ideal man is the actor Tom Hanks, well Tom Hanks as the characters he portrayed in romantic-comedies from the 1990s. This is partially due to the fact that some of Annie’s best memories are linked to watching romantic-comedies with her mother as well as the fact that her mother constantly told her that she and her father had the kind of forever love portrayed in films. Sadly, Annie’s father died before she was born and then her mother died while she was in high school. Now it seems that Annie is stuck living vicariously through film. Her best friend Chloe is determined to find her real man, but no one can live up to Annie’s idealized and fictionalized Tom Hanks. 

Annie is a late twenty-something still living in her parental home in Columbus, Ohio with her mother’s brother, Don. She works writing articles for the internet and dreams of finishing her own romantic-comedy loosely based on her BFF’s sort of, kind of, almost, love life. Her uncle works part-time at a gaming store and plays Dungeons and Dragons with his friends and attends gaming and other cons. Annie’s friend Chloe works part-time in the neighborhood coffee shop, attends college full-time, and lives in the garage apartment at Annie’s house. When a Hollywood film comes to town, it is thanks to Chloe and Uncle Don that Annie gets hired as the assistant to the director. After a disastrous run-in with the film’s male star, Drew Danforth, Annie is sure that her time on this film is going to be the worst experience of her life. Although Annie and Drew have plenty of misunderstandings, there do seem to be sparks. They only get to spend two weeks together but their non-relationship relationship may just be the real deal until the “great catastrophe” occurs. Is it possible for Annie to rectify the situation and apologize to Drew before it’s too late or has she lost her real life “Tom Hanks” forever?

The only thing better than a straight romance or a romantic-suspense read for the summer might be a romantic-comedy. I read Waiting for Tom Hanks in just a few hours over the course of a night and late afternoon (darn you migraine headaches) and thoroughly enjoyed it. One of the reasons for my enjoyment was the mention of one of my favorite indie bookstores (hey, Joseph-Beth Cincinnati), along with all of the great romantic-comedy films that I’ve watched and loved over the years. I especially enjoyed the interaction between Annie and her friends in the coffee shop: Chloe, Nick, Tobin, and Gary. And the date with Barry was hilarious (trust me when you read the book you’ll more than understand). I enjoyed the push-pull relationship between Annie and Drew and their constant struggle to understand one another. Waiting for Tom Hanks is a bit more than a romantic-comedy in my opinion, it’s also a little bit of a coming-of-age story, a story about self-awareness and self-realization, a story about family secrets, and yes, romance. For my romance readers, if you’re looking for a fun romance read then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of Waiting for Tom Hanks. For those of you looking for a light-hearted read for your vacation or staycation, then I recommend you grab a copy of Waiting for Tom Hanks to read. Seriously, Waiting for Tom Hanks is the type of story that has a little bit of something for everyone (did I mention Wookies?). Happy Reading! 📖



Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2019 Book 160: AYESHA AT LAST by Uzma Jalaluddin

Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
ISBN: 9781984802798 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781984802804 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781984890405 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07L2HG6F2 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Berkley Books
Publication Date: June 4, 2019


A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love.

Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.

Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.







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Ayesha Shamsi, along with her mother, maternal grandparents, and younger brother, immigrated to Canada when she was a child after her father’s death during a riot. Fortunately, for Ayesha and her family, her mother’s older brother resided in Canada and was able to provide them not only with housing but with financial support. Ayesha’s mother, although grieving the loss of her beloved husband, studied nursing and embarked upon a medical career. Although Ayesha loved poetry, partially due to her grandfather and his love of Shakespeare, she knew that it would be impossible to make a career as a poet so she studied education. Now in her mid-twenties, she knows that her duty as an obedient daughter/grand-daughter/niece is to work hard to repay her uncle for his financial support, help her mother to support their family, and do whatever she can to be a role model for her young cousins. It doesn’t help that her younger cousin Hafsa, is a bit of a flirt and somewhat flighty. At the moment, all Hafsa is interested in is obtaining at least 100 proposals of marriage so she can launch her wedding event business, funded by her father, of course. 

Ayesha is considered the old maid of the family because she’s over 21, not engaged, and doesn’t seem to have a single prospect in line. To make matters worse, her best friend Clara, is trying to set her up with a Muslim guy from her workplace. Needless to say, that doesn’t exactly work out as planned. Just when Ayesha doesn’t think things could possibly get any worse (famous last words), her cousin Hafsa is talked into assisting with planning an event at the mosque but never shows up at any of the meetings. Of course, Ayesha being the good cousin she is, goes in her place and, yes, she runs into Clara’s workplace acquaintance, Khalid. Both Ayesha and Khalid jump to conclusions about one another based on superficial appearances and mistaken circumstances. Can these two become friends or will they allow their prejudices to color their opinions? Is it possible to overcome cultural traditions and find true love or should we stick to the tried and true?

Ayesha At Last is a fast-paced romantic comedy with elements of tragedy, inter- and intracultural prejudices, family secrets, and tons of family angst and drama. As a Muslim, and someone that thought they were familiar with Indo-Pakistani culture, it was interesting to learn more about the cultural traditions and expectations, such as the families’ adherence to arranged marriages (no, not all immigrant families have this but some do), the rishta proposals, deference to elders no matter what (similar to Black American culture – always show respect to your elders), and more. I enjoyed Ayesha’s longing to be more creative with her poetry but feeling that she needed to be more productive and a breadwinner. I felt empathy for Khalid because he truly was torn between being a dutiful son, a helpful brother, a good employee, and his ideals of being a devout Muslim (trust me, when you read about Sheila the Shark at his workplace you’ll understand). I liked Amir and his struggles and was glad to see the inclusion of a nominal-Muslim that was dealing with issues that were commonplace in today’s world (again, read the book to understand this a bit better). Yes, there are bad guys in this story, such as Sheila the Shark, Tarek, and even Khalid’s mother to a certain degree. The main storyline is Ayesha and Khalid’s romance, but there are several other intersecting storylines and that made for a much fuller story in my opinion. I enjoyed getting to know Ayesha, Khalid, Ayesha’s Nani (maternal grandmother) and Nana (maternal grandfather), Ayesha’s brother – Idris, life coach Masood (a veritable fount of comic relief), Ayesha’s cousin – Hafsa, Khalid’s sister – Zareena, and Ayesha’s best friend – Clara. I wish we could have gotten to know Ayesha’s mother a bit better, but I realize it’s impossible to get to know every single character introduced in the story. I found Ayesha At Last to be much more than a romantic comedy, it is a delightful story that blends Eastern and Western Cultures and incorporates an oft-misunderstood religion. It seems quite fortuitous that the US release is on the first Muslim holiday for the year. Eid Mubarak to all of my Muslim reader friends. (By the way, I 💜 the US cover!) If you’re into romance, romantic comedies, or just want something a little bit different to read, then I strongly encourage grabbing a copy of Ayesha At Last. Thank you, Ms. Jalaluddin, for this amazing and timely story. I look forward to reading more from you in the future.



Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”