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Saturdays at the Café

Saturdays at the Café - Body

Saturdays at the Café is a weekly feature hosted here to talk about and discuss the books I’ve discovered during the past week, added to my shelf and am excited about reading. They may be new/scheduled releases I’ve seen on NetGalley, at the library, or from publishers or they may be older titles my friends have reviewed and shared on Goodreads or blogs.

 


Accidentally EngagedA delightful romantic comedy featuring a Muslim woman who fakes an engagement to the boy next door in the hopes of winning a couples cooking contest.

When it comes to bread, Reena Manji knows exactly what she’s doing. She treats her sourdough starters like (somewhat unruly) children. But when it comes to Reena’s actual family—and their constant meddling in her life—well, that recipe always ends in disaster.

Now Reena’s parents have found her yet another potential Good Muslim Husband. This one has the body of Captain America, a delicious British accent, and lives right across the hall. He’s the perfect, mouthwatering temptation . . . and completely ruined by the unwelcome side dish of parental interference.

Reena refuses to marry anyone who works for her father. She won’t be attracted to Nadim’s sweet charm or gorgeous lopsided smile. That is, until the baking opportunity of a lifetime presents itself: a couples’ cooking competition with the prize of her dreams. Reena will do anything to win—even asking Nadim to pretend they’re engaged. But when it comes to love, baking your bread doesn’t always mean you get to eat it too.

I recommended this at my library, audio version, of course.


Twice ShyMaybell Parrish has always been a dreamer and hopeless romantic. But living with her head in the clouds has long been preferable to dealing with reality, whether it’s navigating the wild world of dating apps or getting her coworkers to show her a little respect. So when Maybell inherits a stately old Tennessee manor from her Great Aunt Violet, she seizes the opportunity to make a fresh start.

But when she arrives at her new home, it seems her troubles have only just begun. Not only is the manor practically falling apart around her, but she isn’t the only inheritor: she has to share everything with Wesley Koehler, the groundskeeper who’s just as grouchy as he is gorgeous–and it turns out he has a very different vision for the property’s future.

Convincing the taciturn Wesley to stop avoiding her and compromise is a task more formidable than any of the many other dying wishes Great Aunt Violet left behind. But when Maybell uncovers something unexpectedly sweet beneath Wesley’s scowls and silences, she realizes they might have more in common than she ever dreamed. And as the two slowly begin to let their guards down, they just might learn that sometimes the smallest steps outside one’s comfort zone can lead to the greatest rewards.

Looks like romance is going to have a great year! I’m hoping to get this one for audio review. 


Isn’t It Bromantic

With his passion for romance novels, it was only a matter of time before Vlad took up the pen to write a novel the Bromance Book Club would swoon over.

Elena Konnikova has lived her entire adult life in the shadows. As the daughter of a Russian journalist who mysteriously disappeared after speaking out against government corruption, she escaped danger the only way she knew how. She agreed to marry her childhood friend, Vladimir, and move to the United States, where he is a professional hockey player in Nashville. 

Vlad, aka The Russian, thought he could be content with his marriage of convenience. But after four years, it’s become too difficult to continue in a one-sided relationship. He joined the Bromance Book Club to learn how to make his wife love him, but all he’s learned is that he deserves more. He’s ready to create his own sweeping romance – both on and off the page. 

The Bros are unwilling to let Vlad forgo true love – and this time they’re not operating solo. They join forces with Vlad’s senior citizen neighbors, a group of meddling widows who call themselves The Loners. Just when things finally look promising, the danger from Elena’s past life intrudes, and the book club will face their first-ever life-or-death grand gesture as they race to a happy ever after.

The fourth book in this wonderful series releases in July but I’m adding it now. It’s an audio review hopeful. 


Our Italian SummerWorkaholic, career-obsessed Francesca is fiercely independent and successful in all areas of life except one: family. She struggles to make time for her relationship with her teenage daughter, Allegra, and the two have become practically strangers to each other. When Allegra hangs out with a new crowd and is arrested for drug possession, Francesca gives in to her mother’s wish that they take one epic summer vacation to trace their family roots in Italy. What she never expected was to be faced with the choice of a lifetime. . . .

Allegra wants to make her grandmother happy, but she hates the idea of forced time with her mother and vows to fight every step of the ridiculous tour, until a young man on the verge of priesthood begins to show her the power of acceptance, healing, and the heartbreaking complications of love.

Sophia knows her girls are in trouble. A summer filled with the possibility for change is what they all desperately need. Among the ruins of ancient Rome, the small churches of Assisi, and the rolling hills of Tuscany, Sophia hopes to show her girls that the bonds of family are everything, and to remind them that they can always lean on one another, before it’s too late.

This was offered for audio review and I accepted it immediately. The Italian setting and the multigenerational story involving three women was a strong attraction.


 

The Perfect Guests1988. Beth Soames is fourteen years old when her aunt takes her to stay at Raven Hall, a rambling manor in the isolated East Anglian fens. The Averells, the family who lives there, are warm and welcoming, and Beth becomes fast friends with their daughter, Nina. At times, Beth even feels like she’s truly part of the family…until they ask her to help them with a harmless game—and nothing is ever the same.

2019. Sadie Langton is an actress struggling to make ends meet when she lands a well-paying gig to pretend to be a guest at a weekend party. She is sent a suitcase of clothing, a dossier outlining the role she is to play, and instructions. It’s strange, but she needs the money, and when she sees the stunning manor she’ll be staying at, she figures she’s got nothing to lose.

In person, Raven Hall is even grander than she’d imagined—even with damage from a fire decades before—but the walls seem to have eyes. As day turns to night, Sadie starts to feel that there’s something off about the glamorous guests who arrive, and as the party begins, it becomes chillingly apparent their unseen host is playing games with everyone…including her.

This sounds so deliciously twisty I couldn’t pass it up when it was offered for audio review.


Consent

From “this generation’s answer to Alice Munro” (Vancouver Sun) comes a sly, sensual, haunting novel about two women whose lives collide when tragedy changes them forever.

Saskia and Jenny are twins alike in appearance only: Saskia is a grad student with a single-minded focus on her studies, while Jenny is glamorous, thrill-seeking, and capricious. Still, when Jenny is severely injured in an accident, Saskia puts her life on hold to be with her sister. Sara and Mattie are sisters with another difficult dynamic. Mattie, who is younger, is intellectually disabled. Sara loves nothing more than fine wines, perfumes, and expensive clothing, and leaves home at the first opportunity. But when their mother dies, Sara inherits the duty of caring for her sister. She moves Mattie in with her–but it’s not long until tragedy strikes. Now, both Sara and Saskia, having been caregivers for so long, find themselves on their own. Yet through a cascade of circumstances as devastating as they are unexpected, these two women will come together. Razor-sharp and profoundly moving, Consent is a thought-provoking exploration of the complexities of familial duty, and of how love can become entangled with guilt, resentment, and regret.

I’ve always been fascinated with twins and don’t think I’ll ever get enough. Of course I accepted it when it was offered for audio review. And, that cover!


In the Garden of SpiteAn audacious novel of feminine rage about one of the most prolific female serial killers in American history–and the men who drove her to it.

They whisper about her in Chicago. Men come to her with their hopes, their dreams–their fortunes. But no one sees them leave. No one sees them at all after they come to call on the Widow of La Porte.

The good people of Indiana may have their suspicions, but if those fools knew what she’d given up, what was taken from her, how she’d suffered, surely they’d understand. Belle Gunness learned a long time ago that a woman has to make her own way in this world. That’s all it is. A bloody means to an end. A glorious enterprise meant to raise her from the bleak, colorless drudgery of her childhood to the life she deserves. After all, vermin always survive.

This is classified as historical fiction but it’s based on a female serial killer I’ve never heard of! Grabbed this quickly when it was offered for audio review.


A Sparrow Alone1890s. Colorado. Following her mother’s sudden death, thirteen-year-old Hannah Owens is hired as domestic help by a wealthy doctor’s family in Colorado Springs. When the doctor declares bankruptcy and abandons his family to finance his mistress Pearl DeVere’s brothel, Hannah is thrown into a world of gold mining bonanzas and busts, rampant prostitution and the economic, political and cultural upheavals of the era. Two of Cripple Creek’s most colorful historic characters, Winfield Scott Stratton, eccentric owner of the richest gold mine in Cripple Creek, and Pearl DeVere, the beautiful madam of The Old Homestead come to life as this old-fashioned, coming-of-age saga unfolds, a tribute to the women who set the stage for women’s rights.

Debjani @ Debjani’s Thoughts wrote a beautiful review of this story and I couldn’t resist. This is coming out of my book budget.


Morning GloryTwo lost souls find love in this heartfelt historical romance from New York Times bestselling author LaVyrle Spencer.

In town, they called her “Crazy Widow Dinsmore.” But Elly was no stranger to their ridicule—she had been an outsider all her life, growing up in a boarded-up old house under the strict eye of her eccentric grandparents. Now she was all alone, with two little boys to raise, and a third child on the way.

Will Parker drifted into Whitney, Georgia, one lazy afternoon in the summer, hoping to put his lonely past behind him. He yearned for the tenderness he had never known, the home he’d never had. All he needed was for someone to give him a chance.

Then he saw her classified ad: WANTED—A husband. When he stepped across Elly Dinsmore’s cluttered yard, Will knew he had come home at last…

I’ve wanted this book for years and was blown away when it was offered for audio review. It’s a new audio version of a timeless favorite.


The Burning AirThe MacBrides lead a cozy life of upper class privilege: good looks (more or less), a beautiful home, tuition-free education at the prestigious private school where Rowan is headmaster, an altruistic righteousness inherited from magistrate Lydia.

But when Rowan and his three grown children gather for the first time since Lydia’s passing at the family’s weekend home—a restored barn in the English countryside—years of secrets surface, and they discover a stranger in their midst. A stranger who is convinced that Lydia was a murderer. A stranger who has been exacting vengeance upon the family for years without their ever knowing. And one who will threaten the youngest MacBride, baby Edie, and the clan’s memory of Lydia, shattering their world forever.

There’s something haunting and mysterious about this story that got my attention when it was offered for audio review. I’m taking a chance on a new-to-me author.


Love at FirstSixteen years ago, a teenaged Will Sterling saw—or rather, heard—the girl of his dreams. Standing beneath an apartment building balcony, he shared a perfect moment with a lovely, warm-voiced stranger. It’s a memory that’s never faded, though he’s put so much of his past behind him. Now an unexpected inheritance has brought Will back to that same address, where he plans to offload his new property and get back to his regular life as an overworked doctor. Instead, he encounters a woman, two balconies above, who’s uncannily familiar . . .

No matter how surprised Nora Clarke is by her reaction to handsome, curious Will, or the whispered pre-dawn conversations they share, she won’t let his plans ruin her quirky, close-knit building. Bound by her loyalty to her adored grandmother, she sets out to foil his efforts with a little light sabotage. But beneath the surface of their feud is an undeniable connection. A balcony, a star-crossed couple, a fateful meeting—maybe it’s the kind of story that can’t work out in the end. Or maybe, it’s the perfect second chance . . .

I was sold by the story description, pure and simple, when it was offered for audio review.


The Things We Leave UnfinishedTwenty-eight-year-old Georgia Stanton has to start over after she gave up almost everything in a brutal divorce—the New York house, the friends, and her pride. Now back home at her late great-grandmother’s estate in Colorado, she finds herself face-to-face with Noah Harrison, the bestselling author of a million books where the cover is always people nearly kissing. He’s just as arrogant in person as in interviews, and she’ll be damned if the good-looking writer of love stories thinks he’s the one to finish her grandmother’s final novel…even if the publisher swears he’s the perfect fit.

Noah is at the pinnacle of his career. With book and movie deals galore, there isn’t much the “golden boy” of modern fiction hasn’t accomplished. But he can’t walk away from what might be the best book of the century—the one his idol, Scarlett Stanton, left unfinished. Coming up with a fitting ending for the legendary author is one thing, but dealing with her beautiful, stubborn, cynical great-granddaughter, Georgia, is quite another.

But as they read Scarlett’s words in both the manuscript and her box of letters, they start to realize why Scarlett never finished the book—it’s based on her real-life romance with a World War II pilot, and the ending isn’t a happy one. Georgia knows all too well that love never works out, and while the chemistry and connection between her and Noah is undeniable, she’s as determined as ever to learn from her great-grandmother’s mistakes—even if it means destroying Noah’s career.

I’ve heard so many good things about this author so when this was offered for audio review, it sounded like the ideal story for me to try out.


Him Series

Him (Him #1)
They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions—can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend… and a big one to learn about himself.

Us (Him #2)
Can your favorite hockey players finish their first season together undefeated?

Five months in, NHL forward Ryan Wesley is having a record-breaking rookie season. He’s living his dream of playing pro hockey and coming home every night to the man he loves—Jamie Canning, his longtime best friend turned boyfriend. There’s just one problem: the most important relationship of his life is one he needs to keep hidden, or else face a media storm that will eclipse his success on the ice.

Jamie loves Wes. He really, truly does. But hiding sucks. It’s not the life Jamie envisioned for himself, and the strain of keeping their secret is taking its toll. It doesn’t help that his new job isn’t going as smoothly as he’d hoped, but he knows he can power through it as long as he has Wes. At least apartment 10B is their retreat, where they can always be themselves.

Or can they?

When Wes’s nosiest teammate moves in upstairs, the threads of their carefully woven lie begin to unravel. With the outside world determined to take its best shot at them, can Wes and Jamie develop major-league relationship skills on the fly?

Epic (Him #2.5)
They’re back! Epic is a novella about your favorite hockey duo!
Jamie and Wes are having a blast living and working in Toronto. Until a scout for another team swoops in to make one of them an offer that might complicate the life they’ve built together.

I joined a challenge in one of my Goodreads groups and this author was selected for us to read. This series comes highly rated so I thought I’d give it a go on audio.


What books did YOU add to your shelves this week?

26 thoughts on “Saturdays at the Café”

  1. Great list of books. Lots of romance books this week. I remember reading LaVyrle Spencer a long time ago and enjoy her books. Not sure if I read that one.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Consent sounds interesting, I will out for your review. Believe it or not, I am taking a break from buying new books. I got so many audiobooks on sale during the Christmas break, so I probably ought to read some of them before buying more. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I missed this post, but am so glad I found it. I didn’t know the new Bromance Club book was advertised. I love the cover. I see a few romcoms here that I am putting on my wishlist. Great choices here Jo, I hope you enjoy them all.

    Liked by 1 person

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