Bookish Ramblings: Bookstore Romance Day 2022

Love is In the Air – 2022

It’s time to celebrate love, all shades of love. August 20, 20221, is officially Bookstore Romance Day. This is the fourth year of celebrating romance in fiction. According to the website: “Bookstore Romance Day is a day designed to give independent bookstores an opportunity to celebrate Romance fiction—its books, readers, and writers—and to strengthen the relationships between bookstores and the Romance community.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m always up for grabbing a good romance book to read (okay, I’m always up for grabbing any good book to read). Contemporary romance, romantic suspense, romantic comedy, or historical romance, I’m always up for the HEA (happy ever after) or HFN (happy for now). Steamy romance or mild romance, it’s all good. If you’re not a romance reader, I hope my recommendations will help you become a Romancelandia convert.

No list is complete without my all-time favorite author, the incomparable, the Slayer of Words, the Queen…Beverly Jenkins! I’ve repeatedly recommended her books to you in the past and I sincerely hope you’ve taken my recommendations. Where do you start? I suggest beginning with her Blessings series (soon to be a television series [we hope]). This series, inspirational with hints of romance, begins with Bring On the Blessings, A Second Helping, Something Old, Something New, A Wish and a Prayer, Heart of Gold, For Your Love, Stepping to a New Day, Chasing Down a Dream, Second Time Sweeter, and On the Corner of Hope and Main. If you enjoy historical romance, then I encourage you to grab copies of Ms. B’s Indigo and Vivid, especially the 25th-anniversary editions. You definitely don’t want to miss out on her “Women Who Dare” series: Rebel, Wild Rain, and the soon-to-be-released, To Catch a Raven.

If you haven’t read anything by Lyssa Kay Adams, now is a good time to start. The Bromance series features men learning how to be better husbands or significant others by reading romance novels. This is one series you’ll want to read in order, so start with book one, The Bromance Book Club, then on to Undercover Bromance, followed by One Crazy Stupid Bromance, and Isn’t It Bromantic?. Make sure you add A Very Merry Bromance to your list for reading later this year.

Another favorite is Jasmine Guillory and her Wedding Date series. This series includes The Wedding Date, The Proposal (one of my favorites), The Wedding Party, Royal Holiday (another favorite because the main female character is named Vivian!), Party of Two, and While We Were Dating (a new favorite). New additions to Ms. Guillory’s list of works include By The Book, released earlier this year, and Drunk On Love scheduled to be released next month.

I can’t say enough good things about Ayesha at Last and Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin. These are fantastic stories that feature Muslims as the lead characters and have just as much drama and comedy as seen in other romance reads. Come on people, read diversely! Again, I’m not just saying that because I’m a Black Muslim woman from Appalachia or a Muslim Affrilachian, I’m saying that as a Book Diva!

Need more author suggestions, here’s a partial list for you of authors I’ve read and can strongly recommend: S.K. Ali, Sandra Brown, Alyssa Cole, Lori Foster, Linda Howard, Sarah Jio, Susanna Kearsley, Sandra Kitt, Alexa Martin, JJ Murray (only male on this list), Alisha Rai (I have read and can highly recommend the Modern Love series: Girl Gone Viral, The Right Swipe, and First Comes Like), Vanessa Riley, J.D. Robb & Nora Roberts, Farrah Rochon, Juno Rushdan, Sharon Sala, Meg Tilly, Sarah Title, Tia Williams, Lauren Willig (love the Pink Carnation series), and more.

Bookstore Romance Day is also providing a host of virtual events, please click here to learn more. Registration may no longer be available for some events, but you can always watch any missed events on YouTube.

Let’s celebrate romantic love in all its forms, as well as support our beloved romance authors and indie bookstores. Love is Love! I hope you’ll be able to spend some time at your favorite indie bookstore today and treat yourself to a romance book or two.

Bookstore Romance Day heart-shaped logo

I’m super excited and pleased to announce that there are two indie bookstores in West Virginia participating in Bookstore Romance Day this year. I’ll be heading to Booktenders in Barboursville, West Virginia to grab some books. Who knows, I might also buy a few from WordPlay in Wardensville, West Virginia as well.

Happy Reading, y’all!

Book Spotlight: BLAME IT ON THE BRONTES by Annie Sereno

BLAME IT ON THE BRONTES by Annie SerenoBlame It On The Brontës by Annie Sereno
ISBN: 9781538721438 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9781538722688 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781549191176 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B09S54DLS2 (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B09FJM7F6S (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: May 3, 2022
Genre: Fiction | Romance | Romantic Comedy

 

She’s going to write her own happy ending.

English professor Athena Murphy is an authority on the novels of the Brontë sisters. But as they say in academia, publish or perish. To save her job, Athena decides to write a biography of C.L. Garland, the author heating up bestseller lists with spicy retellings of classic literature. Tracking down the reclusive writer and uncovering her secret identity, though, means Athena must return to her small midwestern hometown where Garland—and her ex-boyfriend, Thorne Kent—live.

Seeing Thorne again reminds Athena that real life never lives up to fiction. He was the Heathcliff to her Catherine, the Mr. Rochester to her Jane. Not only did their college breakup shatter that illusion, but they also broke each other’s hearts again a second time. Now she has to see him nearly every…single…day.

The only solution is to find C.L. Garland as quickly as possible, write the book, and get the heck out of town. As her deadline looms and the list of potential C.L. Garlands dwindles, Athena and Thorne bicker and banter their way back to friendship. Could it really be true that the third time’s a charm?

Athena and Thorne have a love story only a Brontë could write, and the chance for their own happily-ever-after, but first, they’ll need to forgive the mistakes of the past.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | Audiobooks.com | Barnes and Noble | B&N Nook Book | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Downpour Audiobook | eBooks.com | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook

Advance Praise

“A delightful third-chance romance with Brontë brooding and rom-com banter. You’ll be rooting for Thena and Thorne!” —Jenny Holiday, USA Today bestselling author

“In Sereno’s charming, contemporary romance debut, the love of literature takes center stage… [English professor Athena Murphy] runs into her former lover, Thorne Kent, who owns the town’s main hangout, the As You Like It Café, where our frenemy protagonists trade Amy Sherman-Palladino-like barbs to the delight of the gossip-loving patrons. Sereno is a gifted writer and readers will watch for her next book.” Booklist

“A swoon-worthy hero in a story that’s everything a rom com should be—smart, sexy, funny, and charming to boot!” —Carolyn Brown, New York Times bestselling author

“Delivers plenty of tongue-in-cheek literary witticism and small-town heart… The novel’s heart lies in its quirky, memorable characters. Readers will find themselves laughing through the familiar tropes.” —Publishers Weekly

“Sereno’s novel is witty and entertaining, and fans of the Brontë sisters will undoubtedly appreciate the fun she has nodding to their books.” Kirkus

Meet The Author

Author - Annie Sereno
Author Annie Sereno

Annie Sereno holds a B.A. in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania as well as master’s degrees in library science and British and American literature. Among other libraries, she was privileged to serve Harvard University and The National Geographic Society. When she’s not expressing her imagination with pen and paintbrush, Annie gardens, swims, and haunts art museums. In possession of a well-worn passport and memories of all the places she’s called home, she shares her life with her husband and two sons. Mildly (okay, seriously) obsessed with birds, Celtic music, and all things Australian, she believes there is no such thing as a former librarian, no time to read, or too many shoes. She currently lives with her family in New Jersey.

Connect with the Author: Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Website

This spotlight brought to you via Books Forward PR

Book Showcase: SAVVY SHELDON FEELS GOOD AS HELL by Taj McCoy

SAVVY SHELDON FEELS GOOD AS HELL by Taj McCoy book coverSavvy Sheldon Feels Good as Hell by Taj McCoy
ISBN: 9780778311843 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9780369717597 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488213472 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B09F5BXNG1 (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B093DM7SMT (Kindle edition)
Publisher: MIRA
Release Date: March 22, 2022
Genre: Fiction | Romance | Romantic Comedy

A delicious debut rom-com about a plus-size sweetheart who gets a full-life makeover after a brutal breakup.

Savvy Sheldon spends a lot of time tiptoeing around the cracks in her life: her high-stress and low-thanks job, her clueless boyfriend and the falling-apart kitchen she inherited from her beloved grandma—who taught her how to cook and how to love people by feeding them. But when Savvy’s world starts to crash down around her, she knows it’s time for some renovations.

Starting from the outside in, Savvy tackles her crumbling kitchen, her relationship with her body, her work–life balance (or lack thereof) and, last but not least, her love life. The only thing that doesn’t seem to require effort is her ride-or-die squad of friends. But as any home-reno-show junkie can tell you, something always falls apart during renovations. First, Savvy passes out during hot yoga. Then it turns out that the contractor she hires is the same sexy stranger she unintentionally offended by judging based on appearances. Worst of all, Savvy can’t seem to go anywhere without tripping over her ex and his latest “upgrade.” Savvy begins to realize that maybe she should’ve started her renovations the other way around: beginning with how she sees herself before building a love that lasts.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible | Audiobooks.com | Barnes and Noble | Nook Book | BookDepository.com | Books-A-Million | Bookshop.org | Downpour Audiobook | eBooks.com | Google Play | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook

Read an Excerpt:

“Shit!” Savvy whispered. A bubble of bacon grease popped on her arm, and she jumped back. Rubbing away the grease, she turned down the white knob on her gas stove to calm the crackling bacon, flipping thick slices of applewood-smoked goodness with a pair of tongs. Crisper this time.

Other than her occasional muttered curses, the only sounds in the house came from the sizzling on the stove and the deep hum of a cranky old refrigerator. The kind of hum that keeps you guessing whether it actually still functions. Tugging on the door, she ducked her head in to pull out baby portobello mushrooms, fresh spinach, and a red bell pepper from the crisper. She grabbed Gruyère cheese, a carton of eggs, and a pint of fresh strawberries, closing the door slowly to avoid its signature creak.

Savvy skillfully ran her chef’s knife through mushrooms, peppers, and onion more slowly than usual. She took great care not to wake the man sleeping down the hall. She eyed the black silk camisole and lacy short set hanging nearby, and a shiver of excitement ran down her spine. She looked down at Jason’s old basketball shirt, a relic from some college intramural tournament that he and his boys played in. Not exactly a seductive look. Whoever those guys were that enjoyed women with their hair tied back and no makeup on, Jason was not one of them.

She separated egg yolks from whites and tossed the veggies into a heated omelet pan, adding handfuls of fresh spinach as they softened, then the beaten egg whites a moment later. Using a handheld cheese grater, curls of Gruyère sprinkled onto the omelet, slowly expanding and flattening into a melty pool.

Savvy had moved into her childhood home eight months ago, right after Mama moved to San Jose with her new husband, leaving it empty. Very little had changed in the house since her childhood. Carpets still covered pristine hardwood floors, and plastic runners lined the hallway leading to the bedrooms. Dingy from years of wear and tear, the edges of the runners were yellowed with age. Mama’s house, with its floral decor, took clutter to hoarding levels—she never threw anything away.

The faded yellow paint on the walls, dry and peeling, reminded Savvy of the lists of contractors Mama had given her, tucked between the milk crate and the French press. She intended to renovate the house to make it feel more like her own, but work was too busy to take on a project. The tea kettle hissed hot steam, and she snatched it from the stove before whistling interrupted the morning quiet. Boiling water cascaded over finely ground Kona coffee, the aroma carrying just enough caffeine to raise her energy level.

After peeking over her shoulder, Savvy reached into the oven and grabbed a slice of chewy bacon from the tray. If it’s eaten straight from the pan, it has no calories. These are the Bacon Rules.

Sliced strawberries and cubed mangoes with a chiffonade of fresh mint joined the omelet and crispy bacon, making for a colorful, drool-worthy presentation. Savvy ran a paper towel around the rim of the plate before capturing the aesthetic for her IG Story.

She kicked off her slippers and lifted the enormous T-shirt over her head before realizing with a flash of embarrassment that the kitchen curtains were wide open. She rushed to shut them, stubbing her toe on a loose piece of tile and yelling silently into the morning. Once she regained her composure, she slipped the camisole over her head, sucking in her breath and running her fingers over the slightly taut, black fabric. Don’t overthink it, Savvy. With her silky cream kimono robe with pale pink peonies framing her sexy new pj’s and Jason’s meal on an enameled wooden tray, she shook out her hair one last time and headed down the hall.

“Good morning, Baby I have breakfast for you,” Savvy cooed softly as she reached the doorway.

Jason opened his eyes slowly, rolling toward her onto his side as he yawned. “How long you been up, Savs?” His beard was flattened on his left side from being pressed into the pillow. He smoothed a hand over the crown of his head, flattening the top of his fade, then grabbed his phone before turning to look at her. Jason took in her attempt at seduction, his deep voice thick from sleep. “What you got on?”

Dammit. “Just something new. I thought you’d like it. I was up for maybe an hour?” she lied. More like two. “Couldn’t get back to sleep, so I thought I’d surprise you.” Setting the tray on the nightstand, she stole a quick kiss.

“I taste bacon on your lips.” He dug into his plate, shoving bacon and mango into his mouth at the same time. His hooded eyes chastised her before returning back to his meal.

How does he even taste his own food eating that fast? She sat down next to him with a bowl of fresh fruit, resting her pedicured toes on the edge of the bed frame. “What do you have going on today?”

“Need to stop by my momma’s after she gets out of church, go home and walk Ginger, and then play a couple of pickup games with the fellas. What’s on your plate today? You cookin’ tonight?” He crunched through his bacon with enthusiasm, moving half of his omelet onto a piece of toast.

“I need to check on my uncle before I go shopping for some work clothes. You could come over for dinner later.”

He grunted, looking up from his omelet on toast, cheeks threatening to burst. “What you cookin’?” he repeated.

She rolled her eyes as she fixed her mouth to give him options, but her phone pinged.

Jason hit her with a side-eye, shaking his head. His mouth bursting with food. “Is that who I think it is?” His voice peaked, like a kid three seconds away from a tantrum.

Grabbing her phone from the nightstand, Savvy eyed him carefully. “Yes, Babe, it is.” Her voice calm, she scrutinized the request from her boss. He needed data about insured millennials to present to a new insurance client, and she’d forgotten to incorporate that into her presentation slides.

“He’s interrupting quality time, Savvy.” Jason stood, bare chested in basketball shorts, his deep voice booming with displeasure. Athletic, but not overly muscular, he ran his fingers over his flat stomach, stretching his long limbs, as she pounded away on her phone’s keyboard with her thumbs. “Why am I just waking up on Sunday morning, and you’re already working?”

Shit. “Just one sec, Jay, I promise.” Biting her lip, she ran through report data in her head to pinpoint the figures her boss wanted. She’d always had a good memory for numbers. She typed her response as quickly as her thumbs allowed, noting that she would be in the office for a few hours in the afternoon if he had any additional questions. Jason didn’t need to know that last part. “There, see? Done.” Savvy smiled up at him, willing him to sit next to her.

He did. “I don’t know anyone else who is okay with their boss interrupting their weekend. He can’t just wait till tomorrow?”

“Well, I’m not working now…” Nuzzling his shoulder, she traced her fingertips down his back. “You know, Babe, I was hoping that we could…you know.” The kimono robe slipped suggestively, exposing her shoulders.

Jason avoided eye contact as he handed Savvy his empty tray. “You ain’t got time for all that, Boss Lady.” Tsking, he shook his head, making his way to the bathroom. The sound of a shower curtain being shoved aside and water raining from the showerhead followed. As steam spread across the bathroom mirror, he called out to her. “You should probably see if you can take them clothes back. Fit’s too tight.”

Savvy set the tray down on the bed next to her, then stood, wrapping the kimono tightly around her middle. Shoulders rounded, she returned to the kitchen with Jason’s empty plate, helping herself to another slice of perfect, chewy bacon. So much for quality time.

Jason left as Savvy showered, calling out to her that he’d come back for dinner. After getting ready, she pulled containers of last night’s leftovers out of the fridge and shoved them into a heavy cloth grocery bag. Baked chicken breasts with sautéed mushrooms covered in a marsala wine sauce. Parmesan and asparagus risotto. Mixed greens with grape tomatoes and a mason jar of fresh lemon and shallot vinaigrette. After grabbing her purse and a sealed envelope from her desk, she walked out into the sunshine. The sky swirled a perfect blue, a breeze ruffled through the treetops kissing wind chimes on her neighbor’s porch. A good-looking Black man in dusty jeans, a torn T-shirt, and work boots walked by with a beautiful chocolate Lab. He raised a hand in greeting as they strolled by, and she nodded in response.

Her surroundings changed from lush greenery to concrete skyscrapers and industrial buildings, as she navigated south on the 5 freeway, past Downtown LA. Spotting USC on her right, she threw a strong side-eye at the home of the Trojans. Bruin blood for life, baby.

Big brick buildings blurred into dilapidated warehouses and older residential neighborhoods. Exiting at Century Boulevard, she steered toward Uncle’s house, which he’d inherited from Savvy’s grandparents, since Granny and PopPop had already bought the Los Feliz house for Savvy, her mom, and her brothers. Mama complained that Uncle’s place was an old money pit, always needing repairs, but Unc and Savvy loved that house.

Pulling up in the driveway, she took in the dip in the roof that Uncle described on the phone. He’d sunk the last of his savings into the front porch when the steps needed replacing. The upkeep crept up faster now, but there was no letting go of Granny and PopPop’s most prized possession.

Whenever she needed money in college, Savvy’d called her uncle to avoid stressing Mama, who worked hard to put three kids through school. Unc helped whenever he could, treating her like the daughter he never had. Now, with the stability she found at work, Savvy reciprocated as often as she could, while still building a renovation fund for her own house.

Walking up the steps, Savvy looked through the screen door into the sitting room. “Unc! Where you at?”

“Now, why do you always have to holler like you ain’t got no home training?” Uncle’s husky voice rang with amusement. He leaned hard against a crutch, swinging open the screen door for her to walk through.

Savvy grinned at him, planting a big kiss on his cheek as she walked past. “Any home training I received was undone by a certain someone.” In her childhood, Unc had been her hero; he helped to raise her and her brothers when their dad took off. Ma’s older brother, Uncle Joe always came by to check on them. When money ran short, he stepped in and made sure they were never without.

“Mmm-hmm.” His smile twitched at the corners of his mouth. “What you up to today, Baby Girl?”

Inside, her uncle’s security uniform hung on the back of a chair in a plastic cover from the dry cleaner. A retired police officer, he’d taken on part-time work as a night watchman for an office building in Inglewood. On his limited retirement pay and meager income handling security, making ends meet had been a challenge, especially after he got injured on the job. At the time, Savvy had shaken her head at his explanation. “They vandalized the side of the building—of course I chased after them.” Who did he think he was, Usain Bolt? Unc sprained his ankle running after the vandals, and, under doctor’s orders, had to take time off until he could put full weight on his foot.

Savvy waved her bag of food containers at him, carrying it into the kitchen. She put the containers in the fridge and placed the sealed envelope on the Formica countertop; she had written “ROOF” on the front with a Sharpie. “I’m supposed to run an errand, but I think I’m just going to go into the office for a few hours. How was your week?”

He stood in the doorway, rolling his eyes. “I’m bored. I want to be back at work, but they want me to be off the crutches first.”

“I support that decision.”

“Yeah, well. Ain’t got much to do, other than checkin’ in on Mabel.”

Her eyebrows shot up. “Miss Mabel, huh?” Mabel Winslow lived across the street from Savvy’s grandparents’ house most of her life. Like Unc, Miss Mabel grew up in her house.

She’d moved away when she married but returned after a bad divorce to help care for her parents. When her parents passed within a month of each other, they left Mabel the house and their golden retriever, Samson. A smile curved across her lips. “You’ve been jonesing after Miss Mabel since I was in high school. Tell me you finally asked her out.”

Uncle Joe shook his head, fighting a smile, his upper lip curled slightly with amusement. “I’m a gentleman, Baby Girl.”

“Uh, gentlemen go on dates, Unc.” She winked at him, coaxing laughter.

“We ain’t there yet. I just stopped by to see how she’s doing. You know she was in that car accident a couple weeks ago. Tweaked her back.”

“Is she okay?” She leaned against the counter.

“Says she is, but I think she might need a couple rounds of physical therapy. Doesn’t hurt to make sure she’s fully recovered.”

Savvy eyed her uncle. “Sounds like somebody can dish advice he isn’t willing to take…”

He tsked, pursing his lips at her. “Thank you for the help with the roof, but listen, Baby Girl. You workin’ too much. And you should be putting this money toward your own house.”

She rolled her eyes, following him into the den, where his favorite leather recliner faced a big screen TV. “You are forever saying I work too much. And I want to help, Unc.”

He sat gingerly, leaning his crutch against one of his armrests. “You need a vacation.”

“You know I work the way I do because of what I learned from you and Mama. It’s just what we do.”

“Nah. We worked hard so that you wouldn’t have to, Savvy. Your mama pushes you because she thinks you have to climb the corporate ladder to stay on it.” He wagged a finger at her.

She groaned, rolling her eyes. “Well, I am my mother’s daughter, and I feel most secure knowing that if either of you need me, I am in a position to help.”

Mama carried two, sometimes three jobs when Savvy and her brothers were little to make sure they were fed, that their shoes fit, and that they could participate in sports or other activities. Their dad had a wandering eye and left to be with another woman, leaving Mama to be Wonder Woman for the family. Savvy missed one first grade field trip due to a lack of funds, and Mama worked herself ragged to avoid that ever happening again. Pops never really got his shit together, losing touch with Savvy when he started his third family.

“The roof money is from a rainy-day fund, and if you think about it, those rainy days are exactly what we need to keep out of this house. I can do my renovations anytime.” She offered Uncle a crooked smile.

He shook his head, annoyed at her humor. “I know you’re itchin’ to redo that kitchen.”

She stood, ready to leave before he could march into an assessment of her current setup. An updated kitchen was at the very top of her bucket list. “I am. But you always came through for me. Let me do that for you.”

He pursed his lips, offered his cheek, and she leaned in to kiss it.

“You’ll be back on your feet in no time. In the meantime, call me whenever you need. Got that?”

“Mmm-hmm. Love you, Baby Girl.”

“I love you more, Uncle.” Savvy winked at him and turned to leave. “Let me know when you and Miss Mabel go out on your hot date!”

Excerpt from Savvy Sheldon Feels Good As Hell by Taj McCoy.
Copyright © 2022 by Taj McCoy.
Published by MIRA. All rights reserved.
Published by arrangement with MIRA/HarperCollins

Meet The Author

Taj McCoy photo by Alaysia Jordan

Oakland native and attorney Taj McCoy is committed to writing stories championing black and biracial women of color, plus-sized protagonists, and characters with a strong sense of sisterhood and familial bonds. When she’s not writing, she may be on Twitter boosting other marginalized writers, trying to zen out in yoga, sharing recipes on her website, or cooking private supper club meals for close friends.

 
Connect with the Author: Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Website
This excerpt brought to you by MIRA

Guest Post: D.M. Barr – THE QUEEN OF SECOND CHANCES

THE QUEEN OF SECOND CHANCES tour banner featuring book cover on the left; book cover has note pad and female hand holding a pencil in the background, small picture lower left of a women in a plaid shirt, small picture upper left of a hound dog, small picture upper right of a man in a suit and tie wearing glasses, centered text THE QUEEN OF SECOND CHANCES D.M. Barr

Good day, my bookish peeps. I hope you’re all recovered from the weekend, especially those of you in the US that had a three-day holiday weekend. I spent the weekend reading (but then I always spend the weekend reading). If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably noticed that most of the items on my bucket list are visits to bookstores and libraries around the world (yes, I’m book obsessed). I’m pleased to welcome as our guest, D. M. Barr, author of the recently released The Queen of Second Chances. Ms. Barr will be discussing with us today items on her bucket list. I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to say, follow the blog tour to read some great reviews, and perhaps add The Queen of Second Chances to your TBR list. Thank you, Ms. Barr for joining us today, the blog is now yours.

What’s on your bucket list?

Thanks for such a great question!

One of the things that was on my bucket list was writing a nonfiction book I’ve thought about for over ten years, a book about travel for those on and off the autism spectrum. I’ve experienced autism in my extended family and as a travel writer, it’s something that I was surprised to find hadn’t been written about in a general way before. There were books involving specific methods of travel (Like Cruising with Autism), and personal family accounts, but nothing the way I wanted to write it. I’ve completed that book now, I’m thrilled to say, and I have an agent and a publisher interested so hopefully you’ll see that book on the shelves next year.

Also on my bucket list, along with all of my family being blessed with continuing health, I’d like to have a bestselling novel published by a Big 5 publisher, go on a worldwide book tour, and have that book turned into a blockbuster movie. Isn’t that what’s on every author’s list? But I’d also like a beach house somewhere, and to visit certain parts of the world I haven’t seen yet, specifically Morocco, Spain, and Portugal; the Norwegian fjords; South Africa; the Maldives to name a few. I’d like to adopt a few more dogs, especially a Bloodhound and an Otterhound, if we could only find a way to keep the drool off the ceilings when they shake their heads and fling. I’d like to see both of my children get married (shopping trip to Kleinfeld’s!) and if they choose to have children, enjoy my time as a grandmother.

But I’m really happy with what I’m doing now—writing, writing, writing. Punning and making my friends laugh. Serving as the president of the Hudson Valley Romance Writers of America and co-vice president of Sisters in Crime/New York-Tri-State. I’d like to do some more editing, maybe edit another anthology like I did for our SinC chapter’s upcoming Murder New York Style: Justice for All (coming out in September of 2021 from Level Best Books.). More books to follow up The Queen of Second Chances (I still want to tell Kiki’s story, Nikki’s story and maybe Jamie’s story), and also to follow up Simple Tryst of Fate, which comes out in September. Try my hand at screenwriting and more short stories. Maybe write a children’s book. So many ideas—I hope I get to live long enough to bring all of them to fruition!

The Queen of Second Chances

by D.M. Barr

July 1-31, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Carra’s memoir-writing class teaches seniors to resolve the regrets of their past. But to win over elder attorney Jay, will she follow her own advice? Carraway (Carra) Quinn is a free-spirited English major confronting an unreceptive job market. Desperate for cash, she reluctantly agrees to her realtor stepmother’s marketing scheme: infiltrate a local senior center as a recreational aide, ingratiate herself with the members, and convince them to sell their homes.

Jay Prentiss is a straitlaced, overprotective elder attorney whose beloved but mentally fragile Nana attends that center.

More creative than mercenary, Carra convinces Jay to finance innovations to the Center’s antiquated programming. Her ingenuity injects new enthusiasm among the seniors, inspiring them to confront and reverse the regrets of their past. An unlikely romance develops.

But when Carra’s memoir-writing class prompts Jay’s Nana to skip town in search of a lost love, the two take off on a cross-country, soul-searching chase that will either deepen their relationship or tear them apart forever.

Reviews:

Charming, funny, and heartwarming, The Queen of Second Chances is not just a love story where two people discover each other, it is a story of self-discovery. Like all good romances, this one starts with the two main characters loathing each other before slowly realizing that they are perfect together. But before either Jay or Carra can come to that realization, they have to work through their personal shortcomings. Carra feels like a failure and is unable to get past her mother’s desertion of her as a child. Jay, while his helping people who desperately need rescuing demonstrates his fundamental goodness, puts a little too much emphasis on wealth and status. Helping a group of seniors find fulfillment is the catalyst that allows both the main characters to embrace changing their own lives and then ultimately embrace each other. A joy to read, The Queen of Second Chances is the perfect mood lifter in these stressful times.

– S. Lee Manning, author of the critically acclaimed thriller, Trojan Horse
FIVE STARS!

The Queen of Second Chances by D.M. Barr is a beautifully written story of two lost souls brought together by fate. Carra was such a wonderful character, her warmth and kindness towards others were admirable. She also put others’ needs before her own safety and this was highlighted during the car scene outside the Garrison house. She was perfectly matched to Jay. Although he seemed to enjoy a materialistic lifestyle, I feel he had a really good heart and when he met Carra, he found the missing piece in his life. My absolute favorite character was Helen; she was extremely insightful and wise even though she was suffering from the onset of dementia. Her words of wisdom throughout were poignant and powerful, especially her views on looking back in life: “It’s more important to heed the present because that’s what it is, a gift. Nothing lasts long in this life, which is why every moment matters. You can’t take anything or anyone for granted.” I found the relationship between Jay and Carra developed gradually and the dialogue exchanges between them were very realistic. I loved the twist towards the end concerning Jay’s background and the nail-biting ending was brilliant. I feel there are so many underlying messages throughout too. For example, live for the moment, never be afraid to chase your dreams, and forgive yourself for mistakes you have made in your past. I highly recommend this novel.

– Lesley Jones, for Readers’ Favorite
FIVE STARS!

The Queen of Second Chances by D.M. Barr is a lovely, deftly written romantic comedy that fans of the genre will love.

– Edith Wairimu for Readers’ Favorite

Book Details

Genre: Contemporary Sweet Romance, Romcom, Chicklit

Published by: Champagne Book Group

Publication Date: June 7th 2021

Number of Pages: 204

ISBN: 2940165375545 (ASIN B094GFWG3K)

Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads

Author Bio:

By day, a mild-mannered salesperson, wife, mother, rescuer of senior shelter dogs, competitive trivia player and author groupie, happily living just north of New York City. By night, an author of sex, suspense and satire.

My background includes stints in travel marketing, travel journalism, meeting planning, public relations and real estate. I was, for a long and happy time, an award-winning magazine writer and editor. Then kids happened. And I needed to actually make money. Now they’re off doing whatever it is they do (of which I have no idea since they won’t friend me on Facebook) and I can spend my spare time weaving tales of debauchery and whatever else tickles my fancy.

The main thing to remember about my work is that I am NOT one of my characters. For example, as a real estate broker, I’ve never played Bondage Bingo in one of my empty listings or offed anyone at my local diet clinic. And I haven’t run away from home in fear that my husband was planning to off me.

But that’s not to say that I haven’t wanted to…

Find Our Author Online:

DMBarr.com

Goodreads

BookBub – @DMBarr

Twitter – @AuthorDMBarr

Facebook – @AuthorDMBarr

Instagram – @AuthorDMBarr

Tour Host Participants:

Giveaway:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for D.M. Barr. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs July 1, 2021 through August 1, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Thank you for your interest in this tour!

Find Your Next Great Read at Providence Book Promotions!

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

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible | AudiobooksNow | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository.com | Books-A-Million | BookShop.org | eBooks.com | Harlequin | !ndigo.ca | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook | Powell’s

 

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:

Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Website

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?





Purchase Links:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible  |  Audiobooks  |  AudiobooksNow  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Nook  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  |  Kobo eBook  |  Kobo Audiobook


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.







Purchase Links:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Kindle  |  Barnes & Noble  |  B&N Nook  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks.com  |  Kobo  |  Kobo Audiobook  




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.”