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March 2021 New Releases, Part Two


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If you’re new to Hide Your Wallet, this is where we list new releases we’re pretty excited for in the coming month.

Each reviewer has a book maximum (five per person), but we’ve separated HYW into two parts. The first HYW of the month will cover books that release from the 1st to the 14th. The second HYW will cover books released from the 15th to the end of the month.

We also think this will help us feature books from smaller publishers who don’t have buy links up as quickly as the big five.

As always, if we missed any books that you’re particularly looking forward to, tell us all about them in the comments.I adored the first book in this series, which was a combination political thriller, queer romance, and scathing commentary on colonialism and cultural domination. Can’t wait to see where she takes it next!I think we can unanimously agree that this is the best illustrated romance cover of 2021.

Set to Music

Set to Music by Negeen Papehn

Author: Negeen Papehn
Released: March 15, 2021 by Entangled: Amara
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romance

Dr. Darya Zameeni doesn’t have time for interruptions—in her ER, or in her life. Especially not from the gorgeous man pacing in her waiting room. With mountains of student debt, an ailing single mother, and a younger sister to support, Darya can’t afford to get sidetracked, even though they can’t take their eyes off each other.

Disillusioned Grammy-winning rock star Anthony Castillo’s night wasn’t supposed to end like this—in the ER, panicked after his little brother’s sudden collapse on stage. The band cannot go back on tour without Carlos, but his brother needs constant medical attention. When the beautiful, no-nonsense Dr. Zameeni treating Carlos shows no interest in their fame, he decides she is the perfect candidate for the job. If only he can convince her—and himself—that he wants nothing more.

Darya can’t imagine leaving her job, even temporarily, to follow a rock star around the globe. She’s expected to be the perfect Iranian daughter, after all. But Anthony’s offer comes right as she needs the money and she cannot deny their attraction.

Family is everything to them both. With so much to lose, the smart thing would be to go back to their lives and forget they’d ever met. But doing the smart thing has never seemed so wrong…

Sneezy: This sounds like a very tender story focusing on the quiet, precious things in the main characters’ lives despite the flashy and overwhelming things around them. I really really like that.

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The Dating Plan

The Dating Plan by Sara Desai

Author: Sara Desai
Released: March 16, 2021 by Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romance

Daisy Patel is a software engineer who understands lists and logic better than bosses and boyfriends. With her life all planned out, and no interest in love, the one thing she can’t give her family is the marriage they expect. Left with few options, she asks her childhood crush to be her decoy fiance.

Liam Murphy is a venture capitalist with something to prove. When he learns that his inheritance is contingent on being married, he realizes his best friend’s little sister has the perfect solution to his problem. A marriage of convenience will get Daisy’s matchmaking relatives off her back and fulfill the terms of his late grandfather’s will. If only he hadn’t broken her tender teenage heart nine years ago…

Sparks fly when Daisy and Liam go on a series of dates to legitimize their fake relationship. Too late, they realize that very little is convenient about their arrangement. History and chemistry aren’t about to follow the rules of this engagement.

Aarya: The blurb is so tropey (this is a compliment!).

Claudia’s pick!

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Red Island House

Red Island House by Andrea Lee

Author: Andrea Lee
Released: March 23, 2021 by Scribner
Genre: Literary Fiction

Shay is surprised when her husband Senna declares his intention to build her a spectacular dream house on an idyllic beach in the tropical island nation of Madagascar.

But the Red Island House casts a spell from the moment she sees it, and before she knows it Shay has become the somewhat reluctant mistress of a sprawling household, caught between her privileged American upbringing and education, and her connection to the continent of her ancestors.

At first, she’s content to be an observer of the passionate affairs and fierce ambitions and rivalries around her. But as she and her husband raise children and establish their own rituals on the island, Shay finds herself drawn ever deeper into an extraordinary place with its own laws and logic, a provocative paradise full of magic and myth whose fraught colonial legacy continues to reverberate. Soon the collision of cultures comes right to Shay’s door, forcing her to make a life-altering decision.

A sweeping novel about marriage and loyalty, identity and heritage, fate and freedom, Red Island House reintroduces readers to a powerhouse literary voice and an extravagantly lush, enchanted world.

Shana: Lee is the author of one of my favorite short story collections, and I’m hoping this will have more of the same lush writing, and incisive social commentary.

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Red Widow

Red Widow by Alma Katsu

Author: Alma Katsu
Released: March 23, 2021 by G.P. Putnam's Sons
Genre: Mystery/Thriller

An exhilarating spy thriller about two women CIA agents who become intertwined around a threat to the Russia Division–one that’s coming from inside the agency.

Lyndsey Duncan worries her career with the CIA might be over. After lines are crossed with another intelligence agent during her most recent assignment, she is sent home to Washington on administrative leave. So when a former colleague, now Chief of the Russia Division, recruits her for an internal investigation, she jumps at the chance to prove herself once more. Lyndsey was once a top handler in the Moscow Field Station, known as the “human lie detector” and praised for recruiting some of the most senior Russian officials. But now, three Russian assets have been discovered–including one of her own–and the CIA is convinced there’s a mole in the department. With years of work in question, and lives on the line, Lyndsey is thrown back into life at the agency, only this time tracing the steps of those closest to her.

Meanwhile, fellow agent Theresa Warner can’t avoid the spotlight. She is the infamous “Red Widow,” the wife of a former director killed in the field under mysterious circumstances. With her husband’s legacy shadowing her every move, Theresa is a fixture of the Russia Division, and as she and Lyndsey strike up an unusual friendship, her knowledge proves invaluable. But as Lyndsey uncovers a surprising connection to Theresa that could answer all of her questions, she exposes a terrifying web of secrets within the department, if only she is willing to unravel it…

Amanda: Two lady spies!!

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There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job

There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura

Author: Kikuko Tsumura
Released: March 23, 2021 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre: Literary Fiction

Convenience Store Woman meets My Year of Rest and Relaxation in this strange, compelling, darkly funny tale of one woman’s search for meaning in the modern workplace.

A young woman walks into an employment agency and requests a job that has the following traits: it is close to her home, and it requires no reading, no writing – and ideally, very little thinking.

She is sent to a nondescript office building where she is tasked with watching the hidden-camera feed of an author suspected of storing contraband goods. But observing someone for hours on end can be so inconvenient and tiresome. How will she stay awake? When can she take delivery of her favourite brand of tea? And, perhaps more importantly – how did she find herself in this situation in the first place?

As she moves from job to job, writing bus adverts for shops that mysteriously disappear, and composing advice for rice cracker wrappers that generate thousands of devoted followers, it becomes increasingly apparent that she’s not searching for the easiest job at all, but something altogether more meaningful…

Shana: Post-burnout adventures are exactly what I want to read right now!

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The Unbroken

The Unbroken by C.L. Clark

Author: C.L. Clark
Released: March 23, 2021 by Orbit
Genre: LGBTQIA, Science Fiction/Fantasy
Series: Magic of the Lost #1

Touraine is a soldier. Stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow conscripts. But now, her company has been sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion, and the ties of blood may be stronger than she thought.

Luca needs a turncoat. Someone desperate enough to tiptoe the bayonet’s edge between treason and orders. Someone who can sway the rebels toward peace, while Luca focuses on what really matters: getting her uncle off her throne.

Through assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will haggle over the price of a nation. But some things aren’t for sale.

Aarya: I go a little feral if a blurb promises sapphic fantasy.

Ellen: GIVE ME THE MILITARY FANTASY LADIES!!!

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When Women Invented Television

When Women Invented Television by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

Author: Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
Released: March 23, 2021 by Harper
Genre: Nonfiction

The New York Times bestselling author of Seinfeldia tells the little-known story of four trailblazing women in the early days of television who laid the foundation of the industry we know today.

It was the Golden Age of Radio and powerful men were making millions in advertising dollars reaching thousands of listeners every day. When television arrived, few radio moguls were interested in the upstart industry and its tiny production budgets, and expensive television sets were out of reach for most families. But four women—each an independent visionary— saw an opportunity and carved their own paths, and in so doing invented the way we watch tv today.

Irna Phillips turned real-life tragedy into daytime serials featuring female dominated casts. Gertrude Berg turned her radio show into a Jewish family comedy that spawned a play, a musical, an advice column, a line of house dresses, and other products. Hazel Scott, already a renowned musician, was the first African American to host a national evening variety program. Betty White became a daytime talk show fan favorite and one of the first women to produce, write, and star in her own show.

Together, their stories chronicle a forgotten chapter in the history of television and popular culture.

But as the medium became more popular—and lucrative—in the wake of World War II, the House Un-American Activities Committee arose to threaten entertainers, blacklisting many as communist sympathizers. As politics, sexism, racism, anti-Semitism, and money collided, the women who invented television found themselves fighting from the margins, as men took control. But these women were true survivors who never gave up—and thus their legacies remain with us in our television-dominated era. It’s time we reclaimed their forgotten histories and the work they did to pioneer the medium that now rules our lives.

This amazing and heartbreaking history, illustrated with photos, tells it all for the first time.

Sneezy: The blurb called this an, “amazing and heartbreaking history,” and I have no doubt parts of it will have me in tears, but I like to think there’s joy in this book being written and read now. For all that those men tried to push out and erase these women, their work is what shaped a powerful force in our world. And now their stories are being told.

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Storysinger

Storysinger by Lindsay Landgraf Hess

Author: Lindsay Landgraf Hess
Released: March 24, 2021
Genre: Fantasy/Fairy Tale Romance, Romance, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Urban Fantasy

Ruby Roberts has it all: A record-breaking storysinging career. Legions of adoring fans spanning the three worlds who love her magic-infused spoken word storysongs. A personal-boundaries-challenged cat to lap water from her bathtub and keep her warm at night. But beneath her glittery public persona, Ruby’s newest collection of storysongs is far more raw than the upbeat material she’s known for, more daringly honest about her history of depression and anxiety—and the future of her career lies in its success.

Jack Taylor used to have it all. After his cheating ex-fiancé took him for all he was worth, the fallout burned his elite private security business to ashes. So when Ruby’s manager hires him as the superstar’s new head of security, he jumps at the paycheck. Ruby is Jack’s ticket to financial stability—in more ways than one. He strikes a secret deal with a major press outlet, quietly selling insider info on Ruby’s forthcoming new storysongs.

When the press’ attention hits too close to home, Jack is forced to move into Ruby’s penthouse for ‘round-the-clock protection. Soon the smoldering chemistry between them is too hot to deny. As their relationship heats up, scorching the line between professional and personal, Ruby must decide how much of her heart she’ll risk for this relative stranger when her career’s on the line, and Jack must decide between a massive payout and a future with the woman he’s falling for. All the while, the press is hot on their tail, and Ruby has no idea Jack’s the one who’s been selling them her secrets.

Amanda: I’ve been following this book’s inception on Twitter and I’m so excited.

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Careless Whispers

Careless Whispers by Synithia Williams

Author: Synithia Williams
Released: March 30, 2021 by HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Series: Jackson Falls #3

She’s falling in love with the one man she can’t trust…

Elaina Robidoux knows how people view her: coldhearted, ambitious, ruthless. But it doesn’t matter. Running the family business is all she’s ever wanted and she’s so close she can almost taste it…until her father fires her and hires her nemesis—arrogant, unflappable Alex Tyson. Elaina may be hurt but she refuses to be defeated, so she throws herself into creating a business of her own. But she never dreamed that to close her first deal, she’d need Alex’s help…

Alex understands the power of a family legacy better than most and the last thing he wanted was to take that from Elaina. Her beauty and fierce strength are undeniable, but there’s a softer side that no one but him seems to see. She’s been taught that emotions are a liability, yet one impulsive kiss starts a chain reaction that neither of them wants to stop. But can love ignite—and survive—when secrets and loyalties collide?

Aarya: While the second book in the series didn’t work for me (I was not in the right frame of mind for electoral politics romance), the angst and writing style appealed to me. I’m excited for Elaina’s story!

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Knit, Purl, a Baby and a Girl

Knit, Purl, a Baby and a Girl by Hettie Bell

Author: Hettie Bell
Released: March 30, 2021 by Carina Adores
Genre: Contemporary Romance, LGBTQIA, Romance

Some people can’t wait to have babies. They’re ready for it—with their perfect lives and their pregnancy glow…

Poppy Adams doesn’t have a perfect life, and she wasn’t ready for the positive test. An unexpected baby—Poppy’s unexpected baby—won’t exactly have her family doing cartwheels. But she’s making the right choice.

Right?

Poppy’s totally got this. She just needs a little encouragement, and a knitting group is the perfect place to start. Baby blankets, booties, tiny little hats—small steps toward her new life. But she feels like she’s already dropped a stitch when she discovers the knitting group is led by the charismatic Rhiannon.

It’s not exactly a great time to meet the woman who might just be the love of her life. While the group easily shuffles around to make room for Poppy, it’s not so easy fitting her life and Rhiannon’s together. With the weeks counting down until her baby arrives, Poppy’s going to have to decide for herself what truly makes a family.

Shana: Hello, sapphic knitting romance with a fat main character. This is all my catnip

Tara: I remember when the author first started talking about writing this a couple of years ago on Twitter and I have been patiently waiting since then!

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Sweethand

Sweethand by N.G. Peltier

Author: N.G. Peltier
Released: March 30, 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Series: Island Bites #1

After a public meltdown over her breakup from her cheating musician boyfriend, Cherisse swore off guys in the music industry, and dating in general for a while, preferring to focus on growing her pastry chef business.

When Cherisse’s younger sister reveals she’s getting married in a few months, Cherisse hopes that will distract her mother enough to quit harassing her about finding a guy, settling down and having kids. But her mother’s matchmaking keeps intensifying.

Cherisse tries to humour her mother, hoping if she feigns interest in the eligible bachelors she keeps tossing her way, she’ll be off the hook, but things don’t quite go as planned. Turns out for the first time in ages, she and Keiran King, the most annoying man ever, are on the island at the same time. Avoiding him is impossible, especially when Keiran’s close friend is the one marrying her sister, and he’s the best man to her maid of honour.

Keiran doesn’t know what to make of Cherisse now. They’ve always butted heads. To him she’s always been a stuck-up brat who seeks attention, even while he secretly harbored a crush on her. Now with Cherisse’s sister marrying one of his good friends he can’t escape her as the wedding activities keep throwing them together.

When things turn heated after a rainy night of bedroom fun, they both have to figure out if they can survive the countdown to wedding day, without this turning into a recipe for disaster.

Aarya: I think we can unanimously agree that this is the best illustrated romance cover of 2021.

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Wild Women and the Blues

Wild Women and the Blues by Denny Bryce

Author: Denny Bryce
Released: March 30, 2021 by Kensington Books
Genre: Historical: American, Literary Fiction

In a stirring and impeccably researched novel of Jazz-age Chicago in all its vibrant life, two stories intertwine nearly a hundred years apart, as a chorus girl and a film student deal with loss, forgiveness, and love…in all its joy, sadness, and imperfections.

“Why would I talk to you about my life? I don’t know you, and even if I did, I don’t tell my story to just any boy with long hair, who probably smokes weed.You wanna hear about me. You gotta tell me something about you. To make this worth my while.”

1925: Chicago is the jazz capital of the world, and the Dreamland Café is the ritziest black-and-tan club in town. Honoree Dalcour is a sharecropper’s daughter, willing to work hard and dance every night on her way to the top. Dreamland offers a path to the good life, socializing with celebrities like Louis Armstrong and filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. But Chicago is also awash in bootleg whiskey, gambling, and gangsters. And a young woman driven by ambition might risk more than she can stand to lose.

2015: Film student Sawyer Hayes arrives at the bedside of 110-year-old Honoree Dalcour, still reeling from a devastating loss that has taken him right to the brink. Sawyer has rested all his hope on this frail but formidable woman, the only living link to the legendary Oscar Micheaux. If he’s right—if she can fill in the blanks in his research, perhaps he can complete his thesis and begin a new chapter in his life. But the links Honoree makes are not ones he’s expecting . . .

Piece by piece, Honoree reveals her past and her secrets, while Sawyer fights tooth and nail to keep his. It’s a story of courage and ambition, hot jazz and illicit passions. And as past meets present, for Honoree, it’s a final chance to be truly heard and seen before it’s too late. No matter the cost . . .

Aarya: My favorite type of non-romance historical fiction always has dual timelines (one past, one present).

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Wilde Child

Wilde Child by Eloisa James

Author: Eloisa James
Released: March 30, 2021 by Avon
Genre: Historical: European, Romance
Series: The Wildes of Lindow Castle #6

loisa James returns to the Wildes of Lindow Castle series with the next Wilde child who runs and joins a theatre troupe—and the duke who tries to save her reputation.

He wants a prim and proper duchess, not the Wildest of the Wildes!

Already notorious for the golden hair that proves her mother’s infidelity, Lady Joan can’t seem to avoid scandals, but her latest escapade may finally ruin her: she’s determined to perform the title role of a prince—in breeches, naturally.

She has the perfect model for an aristocratic male in mind: Thaddeus Erskine Shaw, Viscount Greywick, a man who scorned the very idea of marrying her.

Not that Joan would want such a dubious honor, of course.

For years, Thaddeus has avoided the one Wilde who shakes his composure, but he’s horrified when he grasps the danger Joan’s putting herself in. Staring into her defiant eyes, he makes the grim vow that he’ll keep her safe.

He strikes a bargain: after one performance, the lady must return to her father’s castle and marry one of three gentlemen whom he deems acceptable.

Not including him, of course.

Ellen: Love James, though this series has been somewhat uneven for me. However, the idea of the clueless hero to arrange a Georgian-era “Bachelorette” for the heroine is hilarious.

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