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.