Fabulous news for fans of You First by J.C. Lillis (or fans of superhero stories, second chance romance, found family, and general adorableness): sequel The Forever Place releases on August 18th, and we’ve got the cover reveal right here, so come check it out!
Since his breakup with his longtime boyfriend, small-town superhero Levon Ludlow has undergone an extreme life makeover. He’s got two new jobs, a remodeled house, custom-tailored trousers, and the power to talk to an even wider array of snarky and cantankerous animals. He swears he’s too busy with his new life to miss his old love—so when Jay calls with a problem only Levon can help with, he’s sure he can keep it professional and drama-free. Even if it DOES involve two weeks at a honeymoon resort with his ex.
Pairing up as a makeshift team, Levon and Jay head for the Valentines island resort in the Florida Keys, where an outbreak of scandalous guest behavior is linked to a flock of red birds and their strange and alluring song. Levon’s mission: use his animal-talking expertise to decode the birds’ song, uncover their goal, and send them back where they came from. Jay’s mission: use his water-moving skills to protect the island from a storm that’s brewing on the horizon. As Levon and Jay work together and reminisce in this land of heart-shaped tubs and vibrating beds, a flood of old feeling pulls them under—but unresolved issues and guilty secrets could kill their second chance before it gets off the ground. Can they come back together, once and for all, and find a new forever place that works for them both?
The sun-drenched sequel to the bittersweet YOU FIRST, this adult romcom is a funny valentine to superhero stories, found families, and love of all kinds, the old and the new.
Here’s the absolutely lovely cover designed in collaboration between the author and Mindy Dunn!
J.C. Lillis is the author of contemporary YA novels HOW TO REPAIR A MECHANICAL HEART, WE WON’T FEEL A THING, and A&B, plus various other stories about fandom, friendship, love, and art. She lives in Baltimore with her patient family, a possibly haunted dollhouse, and a cat who intends to eat her someday. YOU FIRST and THE FOREVER PLACE are her first adult novels.
I am absolutely flailing to get to reveal for you today the cover and a fabulous excerpt for Kosoko Jackson’s upcoming gay rom-com, I’m So (Not) Over You, which releases from Berkley on February 22, 2022! You may already know Kosoko from his gay YA time travel romance, Yesterday is History, but this is his first foray into Adult and I am ridiculously hyped. Check out this fauxmantic second-chance story and you’ll get get the hype too!
It’s been months since aspiring journalist Kian Andrews has heard from his ex-boyfriend, Hudson Rivers, but an urgent text has them meeting at a café. Maybe Hudson wants to profusely apologize for the breakup. Or confess his undying love. . . But no, Hudson has a favor to ask—he wants Kian to pretend to be his boyfriend while his parents are in town, and Kian reluctantly agrees.
The dinner doesn’t go exactly as planned, and suddenly Kian is Hudson’s plus one to Georgia’s wedding of the season. Hudson comes from a wealthy family where reputation is everything, and he really can’t afford another mistake. If Kian goes, he’ll help Hudson preserve appearances and get the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the biggest names in media. This could be the big career break Kian needs.
But their fake relationship is starting to feel like it might be more than a means to an end, and it’s time for both men to fact-check their feelings.
And here’s the super shippable cover, illustrated by Adriana Bellet with art direction by Colleen Reinhart!
But wait, there’s more! Yeah, we’ve got an excerpt, so read on!
“…and that’s when I threw the drink on his face.”
A day and a half later, I’m far away from Hudson on the other side of town, sitting at a table meant for four but housing five people at The Patriot. It’s not often me and my brother Jamal get together; he’s too busy at Harvard triple-majoring in god knows what right now. Something impressive that’ll make him a capitalist shill, I’m sure.
But a monthly dinner has been on the books since he started at the Ivy almost two years ago, and we’ve only done it a half a dozen times. Maybe it’s fate, or that brotherly connection people rave about, after the mess with Hudson, we find a way to make it work.
“I’m sorry, you need to start from the beginning,” Divya says, tilting her drink back, downing the remainder of her Dark and Stormy. “Again.”
I take three swigs of water to fend off a hangover tomorrow, and to buy me some time. As if some god will pity me, and a drunk clown will burst into the bar, distract everyone, and I won’t have to repeat myself again.
But there’s no such luck because I, Kian Andrews, am not that lucky.
“He asked me to pretend to be his boyfriend. Said his parents are coming in from out of town, and he never told them we broke up and…” I take a deep breath and speak on the exhale, “…he needs me to cover for him.”
I repeat it to the table for the fourth time. The table consisting of Jamal, my brother, who brought his best friend Emily with him, plus Divya, who, and I quote, is simply obsessed with Jamal, so of course, she tagged along. And being the secret bleeding-heart Jamal is, Emily’s boyfriend Todd, an entrepreneur trying to start a brewery that specializes in using flowers as the flavor base (aka broke), is here for the free food.
“That’s insane,” Divya mutters.
“He’s bold,” Jamal chimes in.
“Or crazy—wait, we don’t use that word anymore, right?” Todd asks.
“It’s ableist, babe. Well? What did you say?” Emily asks, leaning forward with earnest. She’s an English major. Romantic misfires interest her far more than they should.
“Of course, he said no,” Divya scoffs at Emily, like it was the most ridiculous thing she could have possibly said. “Right?”
Which isn’t entirely accurate. Sure, I didn’t actually say the words, but throwing your coffee on a guy is just like saying no, right? Hudson is a smart guy; he got the message. And even if he didn’t, it doesn’t matter. I’ve officially blocked him on all platforms – again.
And I’ve been forbidden from returning to The Watering Hole—worth it.
“As you should have,” Jamal adds. He flags down the bartender from our spot, and through some secret code, orders us more drinks. Unlike me, Jamal has natural charisma. People like him—no—they adore him whenever they first meet. Making friends? Easy. Finding a posse? Easy. I feel, as the older, more awkward brother, I should be teaching him things when, in fact, it’s often the other way around.
“I wouldn’t have gone to see him in the first place,” Todd, Emily’s blonde, muscular Instagram Influencer-esque boyfriend adds while sipping his frothy IPA. “You can’t be friends with your ex.”
“Woah,” Divya chimes in, looking up from her phone. “I’m the president of the ‘I Hate Hudson Club,’ but that? False.”
“Look, I hate siding with a White Man, but I think Todd’s right,” Jamal adds.
“Thank you,” Todd chimes in.
“Don’t get too excited, Colonizer,” Jamal replies. “I just don’t think it’s possible. There’s too much baggage there. You two dated for what? Two years?”
“Year and a half,” I correct.
“Three if you include the overly dramatic and excessively long pining period,” Divya adds.
“No one considers that,” I remind her.
“I do and I’m somebody, so it matters,” Divya cheekily winks.
“See? That’s a long time,” Emily adds, chin still in her hand like she’s watching her favorite reboot of Pride and Prejudice.
“Right. And in gay years? That’s what? Two years?” Divya asks.
“Four,” Jamal and I say at the same time.
“I’m just saying; there are roots between you two. And to ask you to pretend to date him? That’s cruel,” Jamal closes.
Kosoko Jackson is a digital media specialist, focusing on digital storytelling, email, social and SMS marketing, and a freelance political journalist. Occasionally, his personal essays and short stories have been featured on Medium, Thought Catalog, The Advocate, and some literary magazines. When not writing YA novels that champion holistic representation of black queer youth across genres, he can be found obsessing over movies, drinking his (umpteenth) London Fog, or spending far too much time on Twitter.
The gifts of Pride month continue with this giveaway for two advance reader copies of The Other Man by Farhad J. Dadyburjor, a gay rom-com set in Mumbai (!) and releasing October 12th from Lake Union Publishing! Here’s the story:
Heir to his father’s Mumbai business empire, Ved Mehra has money, looks, and status. He is also living as a closeted gay man. Thirty-eight, lonely, still reeling from a breakup, and under pressure from his exasperated mother, Ved agrees to an arranged marriage. He regrettably now faces a doomed future with the perfectly lovely Disha Kapoor.
Then Ved’s world is turned upside down when he meets Carlos Silva, an American on a business trip in India. As preparations for his wedding get into full swing, Ved finds himself drawn into a relationship he could never have imagined—and ready to take a bold step. Ved is ready to embrace who he is and declare his true feelings regardless of family expectations and staunch traditions. But with his engagement party just days away, and with so much at risk, Ved will have to fight for what he wants—if it’s not too late to get it.
I am so excited to be revealing this utterly delightful cover for this utterly delightful book! The One True Me and You by Remi K. England (who you might also know as M.K. England, author of The Disasters and Spellhacker) is a contemporary YA Romance releasing from Wednesday Books on March 1, 2022! Here’s the story:
One small fandom convention. One teen beauty pageant. One meet cute waiting to happen.
Up and coming fanfic author Kaylee Beaumont is internally screaming at the chance to finally meet her fandom friends in real life and spend a weekend at GreatCon. She also has a side quest for the weekend:
Try out they/them pronouns to see how it feels
Wear more masculine-presenting cosplay
Kiss a girl for the first time
It’s… a lot, and Kay mostly wants to lie face down on the hotel floor. Especially when her hometown bully, Miss North Carolina, shows up in the very same hotel. But there’s this con-sponsored publishing contest, and the chance to meet her fandom idols… and then, there’s Teagan.
Pageant queen Teagan Miller (Miss Virginia) has her eye on the much-needed prize: the $25,000 scholarship awarded to the winner of the Miss Cosmic Teen USA pageant. She also has secrets:
She loves the dresses but hates the tiaras
She’s a giant nerd for everything GreatCon
She’s gay af
If Teagan can just keep herself wrapped up tight for one more weekend, she can claim the scholarship and go off to college out and proud. If she’s caught, she could lose everything she’s worked for. If her rival, Miss North Carolina, has anything to do with it, that’s exactly how it’ll go down.
When Teagan and Kay bump into one another the first night, sparks fly. Their connection is intense—as is their shared enemy. If they’re spotted, the safe space of the con will be shattered, and all their secrets will follow them home. The risks are great… but could the reward of embracing their true selves be worth it?
And here’s the absolutely adorable cover, designed by Olga Grlic and illustrated by Katie Smith!
Remi K. England grew up on the Space Coast of Florida watching shuttle launches from the backyard. These days, they call rural Virginia home, where there are many more cows but a tragic lack of rockets. In between marathon writing sessions, Remi can be found drowning in fandom, rolling critical hits at the gaming table, digging in the garden, or feeding their video game addiction. They probably love Star Wars more than you do.
Remi is the author of THE DISASTERS (2018), SPELLHACKER (2020), THE ONE TRUE ME & YOU (2022) and other forthcoming novels. Follow them at www.mkengland.com.
I don’t mean to shock anyone when I say this, but I loooove rom coms, and while this one definitely made me both laugh and cry, it’s got nods to the greats down pat, and yes, this beautiful cover represents one of its best! The Falling in Love Montage releases from HarperTeen on June 9, 2020, and here’s what you can expect!
Saoirse doesn’t believe in love at first sight or happy endings. If they were real, her mother would still be able to remember her name and not in a care home with early onset dementia. A condition that Saoirse may one day turn out to have inherited. So she’s not looking for a relationship. She doesn’t see the point in igniting any romantic sparks if she’s bound to burn out.
But after a chance encounter at an end-of-term house party, Saoirse is about to break her own rules. For a girl with one blue freckle, an irresistible sense of mischief, and a passion for rom-coms.
Unbothered by Saoirse’s no-relationships rulebook, Ruby proposes a loophole: They don’t need true love to have one summer of fun, complete with every cliché, rom-com montage-worthy date they can dream up—and a binding agreement to end their romance come fall. It would be the perfect plan, if they weren’t forgetting one thing about the Falling in Love Montage: when it’s over, the characters actually fall in love… for real.
And here’s the adorable, beautiful cover, designed by Jenna Stempel-Lobell with art by Spiros Halaris!
Ciara Smyth studied drama, teaching and then social work at university. She thought she didn’t know what she wanted to be when she grew up. She became a writer so she wouldn’t have to grow up. She enjoys jigging (verb: to complete a jigsaw), playing the violin badly, and having serious conversations with her pets. Ciara has lived in Belfast for over ten years and still doesn’t really know her way around. Visit her online at www.ciarasmyth.com.
I am so thrilled to have Lilah Suzanne on the site today with a guest post celebrating the release of Jilted, a fake-marriage rom com starring a bisexual cis male MC and a nonbinary LI! Before we get to the post about breaking down tropes, here’s a little more on the book:
Carter’s fiancé is in love with someone else. Link has just been left at the altar. After bonding over mutual heartbreak at the would-be reception’s open bar, Link and Carter pass out in the honeymoon suite—and are mistaken for the happy newlywed couple the next morning. Reluctant to deal with the fallout from their breakups, they embark on an exciting two weeks of fake honeymooning, during which Carter starts to have real feelings for Link. Against the eclectic and electric backdrop of New Orleans, Carter and Link have to decide if a second chance at love is in the cards, or if they’re only meant to be sidelined in someone else’s story.
Tropes are important in romance novels; they serve as guiding light for readers who like certain things and want to know what they’re getting into, and also beneficial for writers as tropes are the pillars on which a story is built. But that doesn’t mean they should be sacrosanct.
I have a few random talents that are not only mostly useless, but also very unlikely to impress anyone at a party. I have great free throw form, which would be useful if I weren’t just a smidge over five feet tall. I have a knack for finding things—unless I’m the one who lost them in the first place. I’m also particularly skilled at untying knots. I remember sitting it front of my mom’s jewelry box as a kid, methodically working all the tiny knots out her necklace chains, finding all of the intricate ways the strands wound over around and through, eventually tugging them free. The key, I’ve discovered, is taking the time to understand the knots, the structure of them; you can’t pull at them too hard nor can you blindly yank at the tangled stands hoping something will come loose. Finesse. Respect. Patience. Also, yes this is how children entertained themselves pre-smartphones.
To go with the obvious metaphor here, I treat tropes in my writing the same way I did with those knotted necklace chains. I’m not looking to break beloved tropes apart completely or discard them in frustration. I’m more interested in pulling at the strands, seeing what I can untangle from the knot and make a trope my own. This is not because I think there’s something wrong with them, in fact, I love tropes. I find them fascinating. And I spend so much time taking them apart because I don’t have a smart phone. Kidding! I totally have one. I do it because it’s interesting and satisfying and, I think, forces me to be more thoughtful about my stories and characters as I’m creating them.
For the uninitiated: tropes are essentially commonly seen themes or devices in any given media type, or as TV Tropes, a wealth of delicious tropeyness, puts it: a storytelling shortcut of situations the audience will presumably recognize. In other words, a thing you see so often that it becomes A Thing. In romance novels, we love our forbidden love, enemies to lovers and friends to lovers. We’re crazy about our sexy billionaires, royal romances, sports romances, historical romance, bad boys/girls, opposites attract, love triangles, and fake relationships. And since I cut my proverbial writing teeth in fan-fiction, I’m also partial to tropes like coffeeshop/bakery romances, forced bed sharing (oh no there’s only one bed what will happen?) soulmates, and mutual pining, and I am sucker for a good domestic PWP fluff story. Now, who’s gonna find me a fluffy historical friends-to-lovers coffeeshop story? I’m waiting…
Of course, as much as we love tropes, they can be overdone. There has to be some suspense in a story. So, yes, there is bed sharing, but they didn’t get together after that? What if it was the opening salvo of two characters realizing they had work to do on themselves instead of on a relationship? What if it was just a desperate, momentary craving for companionship and not the beginning of something? What if it was? There’s space to play within a trope. Not dismantling it, just looking closely and tugging a few strands loose. Maybe it’s because of my time in fandom, where the entire point is to play within someone else’s boundaries, or maybe it’s because of my few useless talents (I’m also pretty okay at baking!) but whatever the reason I’m glad it’s made me stretch a bit as a writer.
We all love tropes because they’re comforting—which is probably the same reason I liked to go through my mom’s jewelry box—and in romance novels that’s doubly true. Romances themselves are comforting; full of swoony love interests and happy endings for all, and in fan fiction, too, where we can imagine a thousand different ways for the same two people to fall in love. And these days especially we can all use a little more warm and fuzzy—or hot and sexy—comfort.
Lilah Suzanne is the author of Amazon bestseller Broken Records, part of the Spotlight series along with Burning Tracks and Blended Notes. Lilah also authored Spice, the novellas Pivot & Slip and After the Sunset, and the short story “Halfway Home,” which was featured in the holiday anthology If the Fates Allow. A writer from a young age, Lilah resides in North Carolina and mostly enjoys staying indoors, though sometimes ventures out for concerts, museum visits, and quiet walks in the woods.
I’ve had the joy of recommending this book probably at least once a week since I read it, because fluffy f/f YA can be super hard to come by (as is also a running joke in this delightful rom com) and this is one of the cutest, sweetest, most fun ones you will ever read. Dating Sarah Cooper was written before the MTV show Faking It, but imagine that show had had an HEA for the characters instead and you’d basically have this book. Sound fabulous? It is. Best friends-to-lovers at its finest! (And as a bonus, you definitely want to get to know this author, who’s one of the best YA self-pubbers on the market and has a nice and affordable backlist!)
Katie Hammontree and Sarah Cooper have been best friends since the 2nd grade. Katie’s welcoming, tight-knit family is a convenient substitute for Sarah when her distant parents aren’t around, and Sarah’s abrasive, goal-oriented personality gels well with Katie’s more laid-back approach to life.
But when a misunderstanding leads to the two of them being mistaken for a couple and Sarah uses the situation to her advantage, Katie finds herself on a roller coaster ride of ambiguous sexuality and confusing feelings. How far will Sarah go to keep up the charade, and why does kissing her make Katie feel more alive than kissing her ex-boyfriend Austin ever did? And how will their new circle of gay friends react when the truth comes out?
Buy it: Amazon (ebook and paperback) * B&N (paperback only)
This whole thing is so freaking cute I am not even gonna talk about it because I can’t do it a fraction of the justice the cover/blurb/excerpt can, so without further ado, here’s a little more info on gay YA Perfect Ten by L. Philips, coming June 6, 2017!
Who is Sam Raines’s Perfect Ten?
It’s been two years since Sam broke up with the only other eligible gay guy in his high school, so to say he’s been going through a romantic drought is the understatement of the decade. But when Meg, his ex-Catholic-turned-Wiccan best friend, suggests performing a love spell, Sam is just desperate enough to try. He crafts a list of ten traits he wants in a boyfriend and burns it in a cemetery at midnight on Friday the 13th.
Enter three seemingly perfect guys, all in pursuit of Sam. There’s Gus, the suave French exchange student; Jamie, the sweet and shy artist; and Travis, the guitar-playing tattooed enigma. Even Sam’s ex-boyfriend Landon might want another chance.
But does a Perfect Ten even exist? Find out in this delectable coming-of-age romcom with just a touch of magic.
And now…the afreakingdorable cover!
But wait, there’s more! Excerpt FTW!
“Come on, Sam,” Meg prods. “What’s so bad about Michael?”
“You mean besides the smoking and the horrible cliché of losing your virginity in a hotel?”
“I’ve already owned up to the cliché, Samson . . .”
“You just caught him texting another girl a few weeks ago.”
She pouts prettily. “He explained that. It was nothing.”
“And the time before?” She opens her mouth to protest, but I go on before she can. “I’m just saying, why would you want to with him?”
She unlinks her arm from mine and gives me a shove that has a little more force than I expect. “I don’t know. Why did you want to with Landon?”
At the mention of my ex-boyfriend–slash–other best friend, I feel myself tense. “I was in love with Landon.”
“And I love Michael.”
“But Landon and I were different.”
She crosses her arms over her chest and kicks hard at an innocent pebble in her path. “Oh yes, and you and Landon were the exception to every rule. Michael and I couldn’t possibly be that perfect. No one can live up to the Sam and Landon standard of epic and tragic romance.”
“That’s not what I’m saying. And we weren’t that tragic.”
“Darling, you two were practically Brontë characters. You broke his heart and now here you are, two years later, and you haven’t even had a crush on someone since, have you, Sam?” I don’t answer, and there’s a tense pause between us before she adds, “Exactly two years, actually.”
“You know, I could have gone through the whole day without thinking of it, but thanks for that reminder,” I say acidly.
“I’m sorry,” she says, and I know she means it. “He brought it up to me at lunch. He’s the one who remembered. Not me.”
I don’t know how any of us could have forgotten it, least of all me. October tenth, two years ago, I ended my relationship with Landon. He didn’t speak to me for almost six months. Meg didn’t speak to me for three days, the longest we’d gone without talking since I accidentally decapitated one of her Barbies when we were seven. Hell, I wouldn’t have spoken to myself if I could have gotten away with it. I absolutely loathed Samson Raines for a long time afterward. But now Landon is my friend again. We worked everything out. He and I are fine. All three of us are fine.
Fine, fine, fine.
“I wish he didn’t remember,” I say, and Meg shifts our arms so she can squeeze my hand. I sigh. “Bygones. Anyway, we were talking about you and Michael, and not my love life, which is totally unfair to bring up by the way, because I don’t exactly have any options, do I?”
“There’s always Archie,” she says, smirking. Archie Meyers is the only other gay boy besides Landon and me at Athens High, but he’s not even a blip on my radar. It’s not that I’m shallow, but there is absolutely nothing attractive about Archie. Between the buck teeth, the acne, and the IQ that must top out in the double digits, I would have to be drunk out of my mind to even consider it. Even then it would be a stretch.
But then her smirk droops thoughtfully. “No. Wait. I heard the other day that Archie’s dating some guy he met at a Dungeons and Dragons meeting over the summer . . .”
I turn my head slowly to Meg. “Seriously? Even Archie Meyers has a boyfriend?”
Meg makes a clicking sound with her tongue. “There’s a whole big world of boys out there, Sam. Someone perfect for everyone, I think, even the D and D playing sort with buck teeth.”
“Then I’m sure there’s someone out there for you who isn’t a total douche like Michael.”
L. Philips went to Ohio University for a degree in Music Education, decided that job was entirely too noisy, and became a librarian instead. When she’s not working, she enjoys belting show tunes when she thinks no one is listening and watching the same episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine over and over (or at least that’s what she tells her toddler son). She lives in Ohio.
Love this cover and excerpt as much as I do? You can add Perfect Ten on Goodreads now, and, even better, preorder it at B&N and Amazon!