Indie Spotlight: February 2022
In our monthly thematic roundup of BookLife titles, we’re celebrating romance and relationship books.
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About the book: Viola is a wedding planner. She loves helping couples get married and goes the extra mile when necessary to try and help her clients get over their last-minute cold feet. Rick is a divorce lawyer who only believes in love and marriage because of the possibility of a divorce later on. When Viola and Rick meet at a wedding, they are immediately attracted to each other. When they meet again, Rick is engaged to marry Viola’s idol-turned-enemy.
Author statement: “I chose to write the story about a wedding planner and a divorce lawyer because their careers are at the opposite ends of the scale when it comes to romance and relationships, and I believed this would facilitate interesting conflicts and a challenge to overcome.”
Fireflies & Strippers
About the book: As sole heir to Cotton Industries, Elizabeth Calhoun accepts she must maintain a spotless reputation, not only to ensure her family’s name remains unblemished, but also to prevent the “good ol’ boys” from overthrowing her as CEO. Despite a few hiccups, it’s going well—until she takes her heartbroken friend out to cheer her up. When Elizabeth wakes up, the stripper who gave her the most erotic night of her life is gone. She should be relieved, forget about him, get back on the pedestal everyone placed her on, and run her company. Right? But that couldn’t be more wrong.
Author statement: “As with all my books, I allow an idea to grow in the back of my mind until mentally I have the initial bones of the story. I then fill in the muscle to create my first draft. Once the first draft is complete, I review it to make sure the story flows, and by the second draft I have a full-fledged book.”
Home for Christmas
About the book: Down with a bad case of writer’s block, Riven has escaped to a mountain cabin for a prolonged writing retreat over Christmas. But his family invades his sanctuary away from L.A., a double-booking disaster adds a second family of strangers as large and boisterous as his own, and he ends up having to share a bunk bed with Wendy—a gorgeous, feisty New Yorker who quickly learns how to get under his skin. Sharing a room with her is sweet torture, and Riven isn’t sure what he dreads more: that every passing day brings them closer to saying goodbye or that they have yet another night to spend together.
Author statement: “I love to write enemies-to-lovers romances, as they’re the stories I enjoy reading the most. For this book, I wanted the setting to be magical: a cabin in the woods at wintertime—but with a slight overbooking problem to bring the conflict between the two leads right away.”
About the book: Ice Queen is a YA romance that shines a spotlight on the social and legal dangers teens and tweens face every time they use their cell phones. The novel is a cautionary tale about dating in the digital age.
Author statement: “When a soccer dad told me how the police showed up at his shop to arrest him for sexting because of a shirtless selfie his 13-year-old son had taken, I was shocked. Apparently, his son had sent this ‘nude’ photo to a girl whose parents called the police, and since the phone plan was in the dad’s name the police came to arrest him for transmitting child pornography. That’s when I learned how backward our laws are when it comes to modern teen cyber behaviors and the seed was planted for this book.”
Love at On Deck Café: A Feel Good, Small Town Romance (A Mapleton Novel)
About the book: A change-averse, community-focused café owner has her world turned upside down when a smooth-talking developer visits her small town and disrupts a sacred landmark. When sparks fly, the pair must face their differences head on, all while their hearts—and livelihoods—hang in the balance.
Author statement: “I’ve always believed in the power of stories to provide healing, hope, and happiness. In a world that feels especially heavy, the response to Love at On Deck Café and the sweet love story within its pages has been pure joy. I’m so grateful because I wrote this book as a love letter to my community: Mapleton, the village in northeast Wisconsin where Love at On Deck Café takes place, is loosely based on my hometown.”
About the book: As the long-time mayor of quaint Redwood Ridge, what Marie is most proud of is how she and her two sisters have been able to help patrons find their perfect match. True love slipped between her fingers once, and she’s regretted it ever since. And the source of her regret just showed up after 20 years to knock her world off its axis. Though she’s been trying to avoid Preston, it suddenly seems that, this holiday season, she’s the one with Cupid’s target on her back.
Author statement: “Though a standalone, this is the sixth (and last) book in the series, and I wanted to end it at the most ‘wonderful time of the year.’ Nothing says family and home like small-town romance or the heartwarming sense of community.”
One Way Ticket
About the book: When Paige Lowry discovers her boyfriend and boss, owner of Yoga Soulone studio, has decided her chakras need realignment in the form of inviting several bendy yoga instructors into their bed, she realizes it’s time to smack him with her yoga mat and namaste away. She calls to cancel the studio’s upcoming Caribbean retreat and is surprised to be offered a job. What better way to give the middle finger to her old life than to hightail it to a tropical island to work at a fancy resort? But then Paige learns that her ex and his flexible mistresses are arriving in three days for the retreat she thought she had canceled. Amid her growing attraction to her new boss, the moody yet gorgeous manager Jack Byron, Paige must scramble to prove she can run this upcoming retreat with no disasters.
Author statement: “Periodically, I get a story idea that sticks with me and I just can’t shake it. One Way Ticket is one of those ideas. Because I live on a Caribbean island, I’m often watching the tourists and absorbing interesting tidbits from friends that work in the hospitality business here. A few of those conversations with friends ended up rolling over into the premise of what eventually became One Way Ticket. This book was an absolute joy to write and a fun palate cleanser between my regularly scheduled series books.”
A Rare Find
About the book: A woman struggling with agoraphobia learns how to find her own strength—and lean on the man who wants to help her—in this bookstore romance.
Author statement: “I wrote A Rare Find during the pandemic, a time when I spent much of my waking hours inside looking at the same walls every day. Melanie’s story is one of mental health struggles within four walls that can resonate with many of us on some level, but, of course, there’s a happily-ever-after ending.”
Amy Q. Barker
About the book: When Rue Cavendish meets a handsome stranger in the San Francisco bar where she works as a lounge singer, she must choose between her perfectly ordered life and a chance at love. Rue investigates four intersecting lives and how connections can be forged and broken in an instant. The story charts the emotional and romantic development of risk-takers and how they swiftly discover the inevitable consequences of their actions.
Author statement: “I was inspired to write this story after many happy travels to San Francisco where I immersed myself in the cultural ‘small-town’ feel of this big city. During one trip, my husband and I stayed in a boutique hotel and ate dinner in the old-world lounge where a piano player was entertaining the guests with old musical standards from the ’40s. I was so intrigued that I began to formulate a story—one in which a beautiful blind lounge singer who is strong and independent falls in love for the first time. It took me nearly four years of writing and researching what it meant to live as an independent woman who is blind to publish my debut novel, Rue.”
Ten Thousand I Love Yous
About the book: At 16, Kimberly Kirby thought the only thing she needed to be perfectly happy was to spend the rest of her life with Jay Braxton. Twenty years later, newly divorced from Jay and on the hunt for love, she moves to San Francisco and starts writing a dating blog for divorced women. Just as she falls hard for a talented young chef, Jay fights to win her back.
Author statement: “With Ten Thousand I Love Yous, I looked to continue delving into themes of love and following one’s own path to happiness. My first novel, Degrees of Love, follows the journey of a woman seeking happiness in an unhappy marriage, so I wanted to explore how a woman in a presumably fulfilling marriage gets back to happy after being blindsided with a divorce.”
First Quiver (Cupid’s Fall #1)
Beth C. Greenberg
About the book: Immortality is no fun at all for the 3,375-year-old virgin of Mount Olympus. Cupid’s humdrum existence takes a sharp turn for the worse when a love-tipped arrow fired at the wrong rump gets him banished from home. Reunited in present-day Indiana with his long-lost best friend Pan, Cupid delights in his novel erotic prowess and apparent freedom until he falls deeply in love for the first time and realizes the full measure of his punishment: he must unite his beloved Mia with the “Right Love” she deserves, and then he must let her go.
Author statement: “I began writing this four-book series when a dear friend with four little girls was going through a terrible divorce. I wanted to send her a superhero who could find her the partner she deserved. Who better than a sweet, vulnerable, virginal Cupid as my romantic hero?”
About the book: Prometheus’ Priestess is a modern retelling of Greek mythology in which an immortal priestess is sent to Earth to help humanity rediscover alchemy in order to eradicate the fear that will otherwise wipe them out.
Author statement: “Unlike every book I had written before, Prometheus’ Priestess eerily reflected what was going on in my current life, from trips I was making to things I was experiencing. Whenever writer’s block reared its head, I only had to wait for some event to unfold in my life, and suddenly the characters were right there begging for their story to be told.”
Warlocks MacGregor: Night Magick
Michelle M. Pillow
About the book: Maura might be new to the supernatural town of Green Vallis, but this isn’t her first dance with the devil. Half-vampire, half-human, and full bar owner, Curtis Jefferson has spent a lifetime running from his vampiric ancestor. When the old nemesis finally catches up to him, it’s only by a freak accident that he’s not killed. But now the beautiful woman who saved his life has a target on her back.
Author statement: “I love writing books with strong family connections, even when those connections can sometimes be a pain in the backside. The MacGregor family is full of pranks and hijinks, but they’re also loyal and will do anything for family and friends.”
Combative to Collaborative: The Coparenting Code
About the book: Combative to Collaborative: The Coparenting Code channels parents’ interactions with each other to what they really want: to be good parents. Combative to Collaborative is the essential guide for parents living separately to improve life not only for their children, but also for themselves and everyone that surrounds them. A painful decision does not have to mean a pain-filled life.
Author statement: “The experiences and guidance laid out in Combative to Collaborative are based on the lessons I learned during my personal journey as both a divorced parent and stepparent, combined with the experiences I observed in other families and that other parents shared with me. While other coparenting books come at the challenge clinically and legally, Combative to Collaborative goes straight to the heart of the matter to provide divorced and separated parents a path forward that will enable them to raise happy kids and find personal joy.”
Healing from Infidelity
About the book: This practical, down-to-earth guide is for couples dealing with the crisis of infidelity who want to save their marriages.
Author statement: “Readers consistently report that reading this book has offered more help and hope than any therapy experience or comparable book. It has received nearly 800 reviews averaging 4.5 stars on Amazon.”
A version of this article appeared in the 02/21/2022 issue of Publishers Weekly under the headline: Indie Spotlight