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June 2021 New Releases, Part One


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Serioues rom com potential. Fingers crossed.As someone whose family came from Hungary four generations ago, I’m always looking to absorb more about the country through fiction.

A Lowcountry Bride

A Lowcountry Bride by Preslaysa Williams

Author: Preslaysa Williams
Released: June 1, 2021 by Avon
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Series: Brides of Lowcountry #1

A heartwarming Avon debut of love, forgiveness, and new beginnings set in the beautiful South Carolina Lowcountry.

Maya Jackson has worked for Laura Whitcomb, Inc, a renowned New York City bridal gown brand, for years and dreams of becoming Head Designer. She has the talent; she just needs a chance to showcase her unique style. Due to an illness, she’s always prioritized her career over her personal life until her father fractures his hip and Maya returns to Charleston, South Carolina. While home for only a few months, she’s thrilled to find an opportunity at the local bridal gown boutique, never expecting sparks to fly with its owner…

A military veteran and widowed father, Derek Sullivan hopes to save Always a Bride from bankruptcy in order to preserve the legacy of his mother. He also wants to reconnect with his estranged, twelve-year-old daughter, who is still recovering from the loss of her mother. The last thing he needs is a relationship with a beautiful, smart, complicated woman who will be leaving soon.

When Derek begins to fall for the lovely Maya, he knows there’s no future. But destiny has its own plans, and these two lonely people with big hearts discover that coming home to love is the best gift life can give.

Aarya: Not a fan of the cover, but I’m intrigued by the heroine’s Afro-Filipina heritage and the Charleston setting.

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Black Snake

Black Snake by Katherine Wiltenburg Todrys

Author: Katherine Wiltenburg Todrys
Released: June 1, 2021 by Bison Books
Genre: Nonfiction

The controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) made headlines around the world in 2016. Supporters called the pipeline key to safely transporting American oil from the Bakken oil fields of the northern plains to markets nationwide, essential to both national security and prosperity. Native activists named it the “black snake,” referring to an ancient prophecy about a terrible snake that would one day devour the earth. Activists rallied near the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota for months in opposition to DAPL, winning an unprecedented but temporary victory before the federal government ultimately permitted the pipeline. Oil began flowing on June 1, 2017.

The water protector camps drew global support and united more than three hundred tribes in perhaps the largest Native alliance in U.S. history. While it faced violent opposition, the peaceful movement against DAPL has become one of the most crucial human rights movements of our time.

Black Snake is the story of four leaders—LaDonna Allard, Jasilyn Charger, Lisa DeVille, and Kandi White—and their fight against the pipeline. It is the story of Native nations combating environmental injustice and longtime discrimination and rebuilding their communities. It is the story of a new generation of environmental activists, galvanized at Standing Rock, becoming the protectors of America’s natural resources.

Sneezy: Fuck yes I want to learn from BAMF organizers!!! And also, for those who had followed Red Dawn’s story, she’s home now.

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The Chosen and the Beautiful

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

Author: Nghi Vo
Released: June 1, 2021 by Tor.com
Genre: Historical: American, LGBTQIA, Science Fiction/Fantasy

Immigrant. Socialite. Magician.

Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society―she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. She’s also queer, Asian, adopted, and treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most important doors remain closed to her.

But the world is full of wonders: infernal pacts and dazzling illusions, lost ghosts and elemental mysteries. In all paper is fire, and Jordan can burn the cut paper heart out of a man. She just has to learn how.

Nghi Vo’s debut novel reinvents this classic of the American canon as a coming-of-age story full of magic, mystery, and glittering excess, and introduces a major new literary voice.

Shana: I read a beautiful excerpt from this queer Great Gatbsy reimagining. Want MORE!

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Dead Dead Girls

Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia

Author: Nekesa Afia
Released: June 1, 2021 by Berkley
Genre: Historical: American, Mystery/Thriller
Series: A Harlem Renaissance Mystery #1

The start of an exciting new historical mystery series set in 1920s Harlem featuring Louise Lloyd, a young black woman caught up in a series of murders way too close to home…

Harlem, 1926. Young black girls like Louise Lloyd are ending up dead.

Following a harrowing kidnapping ordeal when she was in her teens, Louise is doing everything she can to maintain a normal life. She’s succeeding, too. She spends her days working at Maggie’s Café and her nights at the Zodiac, Manhattan’s hottest speakeasy. Louise’s friends might say she’s running from her past and the notoriety that still stalks her, but don’t tell her that.

When a girl turns up dead in front of the café, Louise is forced to confront something she’s been trying to ignore–several local black girls have been murdered over the past few weeks. After an altercation with a local police officer gets her arrested, Louise is given an ultimatum: She can either help solve the case or let a judge make an example of her.

Louise has no choice but to take the case and soon finds herself toe-to-toe with a murderous mastermind. She’ll have to tackle her own fears and the prejudices of New York City society if she wants to catch a killer and save her own life in the process.

Shana: Harlem Renassiance setting!

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For the Wolf

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten

Author: Hannah Whitten
Released: June 1, 2021 by Orbit
Genre: Horror, Romance, Science Fiction/Fantasy
Series: Wilderwood #1

The first daughter is for the Throne.
The second daughter is for the Wolf.

For fans of Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale comes a dark fantasy novel about a young woman who must be sacrificed to the legendary Wolf of the Wood to save her kingdom. But not all legends are true, and the Wolf isn’t the only danger lurking in the Wilderwood.

As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose-to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he’ll return the world’s captured gods.

Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can’t control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can’t hurt those she loves. Again.

But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn’t learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood-and her world-whole.

Amanda: Probably top five most anticipated releases for me in 2021!

Aarya: I’ve been told that For the Wolf has an important/satisfying (read: no one breaks up or dies) romantic arc. Be prepared for some horror and gore.

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The Library of the Dead

The Library of the Dead by T.L. Huchu

Author: T.L. Huchu
Released: June 1, 2021 by Tor Books
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Edinburgh Nights #1

Sixth Sense meets Stranger Things in T. L. Huchu’s The Library of the Dead, a sharp contemporary fantasy following a precocious and cynical teen as she explores the shadowy magical underside of modern Edinburgh.

When a child goes missing in Edinburgh’s darkest streets, young Ropa investigates. She’ll need to call on Zimbabwean magic as well as her Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. But as shadows lengthen, will the hunter become the hunted?

When ghosts talk, she will listen…

Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker. Now she speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to the living. A girl’s gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone’s bewitching children–leaving them husks, empty of joy and life. It’s on Ropa’s patch, so she feels honor-bound to investigate. But what she learns will change her world.

She’ll dice with death (not part of her life plan…), discovering an occult library and a taste for hidden magic. She’ll also experience dark times. For Edinburgh hides a wealth of secrets, and Ropa’s gonna hunt them all down.

Amanda: New urban fantasy with a main character who’s like “fuck school, I want to talk to ghosts.”

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Neon Gods

Neon Gods by Katee Robert

Author: Katee Robert
Released: June 1, 2021 by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Fantasy/Fairy Tale Romance, Romance, Science Fiction/Fantasy
Series: Dark Olympus #1

He was supposed to be a myth.
But from the moment I crossed the River Styx and fell under his dark spell…
…he was, quite simply, mine.

Society darling Persephone Dimitriou plans to flee the ultra-modern city of Olympus and start over far from the backstabbing politics of the Thirteen Houses. But all that’s ripped away when her mother ambushes her with an engagement to Zeus, the dangerous power behind their glittering city’s dark facade.

With no options left, Persephone flees to the forbidden undercity and makes a devil’s bargain with a man she once believed a myth…a man who awakens her to a world she never knew existed.

Hades has spent his life in the shadows, and he has no intention of stepping into the light. But when he finds that Persephone can offer a little slice of the revenge he’s spent years craving, it’s all the excuse he needs to help her—for a price. Yet every breathless night spent tangled together has given Hades a taste for Persephone, and he’ll go to war with Olympus itself to keep her close…

A modern retelling of Hades and Persephone that’s as sinful as it is sweet.

Amanda: I see mythology mixed with romance and I must read it. Plus, I love Katee Robert’s stuff!

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One Last Stop

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

Author: Casey McQuiston
Released: June 1, 2021 by St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: Contemporary Romance, LGBTQIA, Time Travel, Romance

From the New York Times bestselling author of Red, White & Royal Blue comes a new romantic comedy that will stop readers in their tracks…

Cynical twenty-three-year old August doesn’t believe in much. She doesn’t believe in psychics, or easily forged friendships, or finding the kind of love they make movies about. And she certainly doesn’t believe her ragtag band of new roommates, her night shifts at a 24-hour pancake diner, or her daily subway commute full of electrical outages are going to change that.

But then, there’s Jane. Beautiful, impossible Jane.

All hard edges with a soft smile and swoopy hair and saving August’s day when she needed it most. The person August looks forward to seeing on the train every day. The one who makes her forget about the cities she lived in that never seemed to fit, and her fear of what happens when she finally graduates, and even her cold-case obsessed mother who won’t quite let her go. And when August realizes her subway crush is impossible in more ways than one—namely, displaced in time from the 1970s—she thinks maybe it’s time to start believing.

Casey McQuiston’s One Last Stop is a sexy, big-hearted romance where the impossible becomes possible as August does everything in her power to save the girl lost in time.

Tara: This sounds adorable. Also, given how much I’ve been diving into the history of punk lately, I can’t wait to meet Jane.

Shana: I’ve heard good things about this book, from both fans and skeptics of RW&RB.

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The Other Black Girl

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Author: Zakiya Dalila Harris
Released: June 1, 2021 by Atria Books
Genre: Horror, Mystery/Thriller

Get Out meets The Stepford Wives in this electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of New York City book publishing.

Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust.

Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.

It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career.

A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary that is perfect for anyone who has ever felt manipulated, threatened, or overlooked in the workplace, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.

Amanda: I’m all for an eerie thriller set in the very white world of publishing.

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The Road Trip

The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary

Author: Beth O'Leary
Released: June 1, 2021 by Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romance

Two exes reach a new level of awkward when forced to take a road trip together in this endearing and humorous novel by the author of the international bestseller The Flatshare.

What if the end of the road is just the beginning?

Four years ago, Dylan and Addie fell in love under the Provence sun. Wealthy Oxford student Dylan was staying at his friend Cherry’s enormous French villa; wild child Addie was spending her summer as the on-site caretaker. Two years ago, their relationship officially ended. They haven’t spoken since.

Today, Dylan’s and Addie’s lives collide again. It’s the day before Cherry’s wedding, and Addie and Dylan crash cars at the start of the journey there. The car Dylan was driving is wrecked, and the wedding is in rural Scotland–he’ll never get there on time by public transport.

So, along with Dylan’s best friend, Addie’s sister, and a random guy on Facebook who needed a ride, they squeeze into a space-challenged Mini and set off across Britain. Cramped into the same space, Dylan and Addie are forced to confront the choices they made that tore them apart–and ask themselves whether that final decision was the right one after all.

Aarya: Her last book was women’s fiction-y but still very enjoyable. I’m looking forward to road trip shenanigans!

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Satisfaction Guaranteed

Satisfaction Guaranteed by Karelia Stetz-Waters

Author: Karelia Stetz-Waters
Released: June 1, 2021 by Forever
Genre: Contemporary Romance, LGBTQIA, Romance

Opposites attract in this playful and laugh-out-loud rom-com from Lambda Award finalist Karelia Stetz-Waters.

Cade Elgin has a life and career in New York City, and she’s determined to get back to both as soon as possible after her aunt’s funeral in Portland. However, when she unexpectedly inherits her aunt’s sex toy store — and has to save it from foreclosure — Cade realizes she’s not going anywhere. But making Share the Love profitable won’t be as easy as Cade had hoped. Her new partner has an infuriating lack of business sense, and an infuriating ability to turn Cade on.

Selena Mathis knows that nothing is more important than saving Share the Love. Not her pride, not her inconvenient attraction toward her new business partner. Cade may be more buttoned-up than Selena usually goes for, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t know how to turn the store around. But the more they work together, the harder it becomes for Selena to ignore her growing feelings for Cade. And she starts to wonder if there is something more important than saving Share the Love.

Tara: I’ve actually already read this one and I loved it. It made me laugh out loud a lot of times and it’s just lovely.

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Seven Days in June

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

Author: Tia Williams
Released: June 1, 2021 by Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romance

Seven days to fall in love, fifteen years to forget and seven days to get it all back again… From the author of The Perfect Find, this is a witty, romantic, and sexy-as-hell new novel of two writers and their second chance at love.

Brooklynite Eva Mercy is a single mom and bestselling erotica writer, who is feeling pressed from all sides. Shane Hall is a reclusive, enigmatic, award-winning literary author who, to everyone’s surprise, shows up in New York.

When Shane and Eva meet unexpectedly at a literary event, sparks fly, raising not only their past buried traumas, but the eyebrows of New York’s Black literati. What no one knows is that twenty years earlier, teenage Eva and Shane spent one crazy, torrid week madly in love. They may be pretending that everything is fine now, but they can’t deny their chemistry-or the fact that they’ve been secretly writing to each other in their books ever since.

Over the next seven days in the middle of a steamy Brooklyn summer, Eva and Shane reconnect, but Eva’s not sure how she can trust the man who broke her heart, and she needs to get him out of New York so that her life can return to normal. But before Shane disappears again, there are a few questions she needs answered. . .

With its keen observations of Black life and the condition of modern motherhood, as well as the consequences of motherless-ness, Seven Days in June is by turns humorous, warm and deeply sensual.

Aarya: So I didn’t realize this was a romance until I started reading it (maybe the lit-fic font confused me??). But I enjoyed the book very much, so check out Seven Days in June (it’s 100% a genre romance, I promise!).

Sneezy: This sounds like a cute as FUCK second chance romance.

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Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous

Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous by Suzanne Park

Author: Suzanne Park
Released: June 1, 2021 by Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Young Adult

Sunny Song’s Big Summer Goals:
1) Make Rafael Kim my boyfriend (finally!)
2) Hit 100K followers (almost there…)
3) Have the best last summer of high school ever

Not on Sunny’s list: accidentally filming a PG-13 cooking video that goes viral (#browniegate). Extremely not on her list: being shipped off to a digital detox farm camp in Iowa (IOWA??) for a whole month. She’s traded in her WiFi connection for a butter churn, and if she wants any shot at growing her social media platform this summer, she’ll need to find a way back online.

But between some unexpected friendships and an alarmingly cute farm boy, Sunny might be surprised by the connections she makes when she’s forced to disconnect.

Shana: Serious rom com potential. Fingers crossed.

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There Plant Eyes

There Plant Eyes by M. Leona Godin

Author: M. Leona Godin
Released: June 1, 2021 by Pantheon
Genre: Nonfiction

From Homer to Helen Keller, from Dune to Stevie Wonder, from the invention of braille to the science of echolocation, M. Leona Godin explores the fascinating history of blindness, interweaving it with her own story of gradually losing her sight.

There Plant Eyes probes the ways in which blindness has shaped our ocularcentric culture, challenging deeply ingrained ideas about what it means to be “blind.” For millennia, blind­ness has been used to signify such things as thoughtlessness (“blind faith”), irrationality (“blind rage”), and unconsciousness (“blind evolution”). But at the same time, blind people have been othered as the recipients of special powers as compensation for lost sight (from the poetic gifts of John Milton to the heightened senses of the comic book hero Daredevil).

Godin—who began losing her vision at age ten—illuminates the often-surprising history of both the condition of blindness and the myths and ideas that have grown up around it over the course of generations. She combines an analysis of blindness in art and culture (from King Lear to Star Wars) with a study of the science of blindness and key developments in accessibility (the white cane, embossed printing, digital technology) to paint a vivid personal and cultural history.

A genre-defying work, There Plant Eyes reveals just how essential blindness and vision are to humanity’s understanding of itself and the world.

Sneezy: Hello yet another history I should have learned in school.

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Hyphen

Hyphen by Pardis Mahdavi

Author: Pardis Mahdavi
Released: June 3, 2021 by Bloomsbury Academic
Genre: Nonfiction

Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.

To hyphenate or not to hyphenate has been a central point of controversy since before the imprinting of the first Gutenberg Bible. And yet, the hyphen has persisted, bringing and bridging new words and concepts.

Hyphen follows the story of the hyphen from antiquity-“Hyphen” is derived from an ancient Greek word meaning “to tie together” -to the present, but also uncovers the politics of the hyphen and the role it plays in creating identities. The journey of this humble piece of connective punctuation reveals the quiet power of an orthographic concept to speak to the travails of hyphenated individuals all over the world. Hyphen is ultimately a compelling story about the powerful ways that language and identity intertwine.

Mahdavi-herself a hyphenated Iranian-American-weaves in her own experiences struggling to find a sense of self amidst feelings of betwixt and between. Through stories of the author and three other individuals, Hyphen collectively considers how to navigate, articulate, and empower new identities.

Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in The Atlantic.

Sneezy: Per usual, I’m drawn to how people grapple with the liminal spaces race constructs and their diaspora experiences puts them in.

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The Jasmine Throne

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri

Author: Tasha Suri
Released: June 8, 2021 by Orbit
Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance, Science Fiction/Fantasy
Series: Burning Kingdoms #1

Author of Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash Tasha Suri’s The Jasmine Throne, beginning a new trilogy set in a world inspired by the history and epics of India, in which a captive princess and a maidservant in possession of forbidden magic become unlikely allies on a dark journey to save their empire from the princess’s traitor brother.

Imprisoned by her dictator brother, Malini spends her days in isolation in the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once the source of the powerful, magical deathless waters — but is now little more than a decaying ruin.

Priya is a maidservant, one among several who make the treacherous journey to the top of the Hirana every night to clean Malini’s chambers. She is happy to be an anonymous drudge, so long as it keeps anyone from guessing the dangerous secret she hides.

But when Malini accidentally bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled. One is a vengeful princess seeking to depose her brother from his throne. The other is a priestess seeking to find her family. Together, they will change the fate of an empire.

Elyse: This book had me at “vengeful princess.”

Shana: India-inspired f/f epic fantasy? Yes, please!

Ellen’s pick!

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The Professor Next Door

The Professor Next Door by Jackie Lau

Author: Jackie Lau
Released: June 8, 2021 by Jackie Lau Books
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Series: The Cider Bar Sisters #3

Friendly neighbors can have their benefits…

Nicole Louie-Edwards enjoys the nightlife and bringing men back to her apartment, although lately, she’s gotten tired of the chase. Her quiet new neighbor, David Cho, isn’t her type, but after they get trapped in an elevator together on her birthday, she develops a friendship with the kind geology professor.

Then, blushing, he tells her that he can hear her having sex but tries not to listen. Except it’s clear he’d like to, and she’s surprisingly turned on. They embark on a friends-with-benefits arrangement hotter than any she’s had before. She didn’t expect him to be so naughty between the sheets.

David becomes a bigger part of her life outside of the bedroom, too, bringing her desserts and going viral on TikTok with her grandmother, but she can’t imagine he wants to be her boyfriend, and it’s not like she wants that, either. She’s convinced she’d lose her identity in a relationship, like she did ten years ago.

Yet she can’t help getting more and more attached to the professor next door…

Catherine: Jackie Lau’s romances always make me hungry and make me laugh. Also, this one sounds super hot.

Sneezy: HELLO COMFORTING DELICIOUS BOOK, COME TO ME, I NEED YOU!!!!

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The Queer Principles of Kit Webb

The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian

Author: Cat Sebastian
Released: June 8, 2021 by Avon
Genre: Historical: European, LGBTQIA, Romance

Critically acclaimed author Cat Sebastian makes her trade paperback debut in a stunning historical romance about a reluctantly reformed highwayman and the aristocrat who threatens to steal his heart.

Kit Webb has left his stand-and-deliver days behind him. But dreary days at his coffee shop have begun to make him pine for the heady rush of thievery. When a handsome yet arrogant aristocrat storms into his shop, Kit quickly realizes he may be unable to deny whatever this highborn man desires.

In order to save himself and a beloved friend, Percy, Lord Holland must go against every gentlemanly behavior he holds dear to gain what he needs most: a book that once belonged to his mother, a book his father never lets out of his sight and could be Percy’s savior. More comfortable in silk-filled ballrooms than coffee shops frequented by criminals, his attempts to hire the roughly hewn highwayman, formerly known as Gladhand Jack, proves equal parts frustrating and electrifying.

Kit refuses to participate in the robbery but agrees to teach Percy how to do the deed. Percy knows he has little choice but to submit and as the lessons in thievery begin, he discovers thievery isn’t the only crime he’s desperate to commit with Kit.

But when their careful plan goes dangerously wrong and shocking revelations threaten to tear them apart, can these stolen hearts withstand the impediments in their path?

Catherine: Ooh, haven’t read a good highwayman romance in a while! Also, Cat Sebastian is always a joy. I’m here for this!

Susan: Cat Sebastian is on my auto-buy list anyway, but heists DEFINITELY puts this at the top of my TBR pile.

Claudia: A new Cat Sebastian is always reason to celebrate.

Lara: Read it! Loved it! Want a million more just like it!

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Reel

Reel by Kennedy Ryan

Author: Kennedy Ryan
Released: June 8, 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Series: Hollywood Renaissance #1

Award-Winning Wall Street Journal Bestselling author Kennedy Ryan launches a brand new series with a Hollywood tale of wild ambition, artistic obsession, and unrelenting love.

One moment in the spotlight.

For months I stood by, an understudy waiting in the wings,
preparing for my time to shine.
I never imagined he would watch in the audience that night.
Canon Holt.
Famous film director.
Fascinating. Talented. Fine.
Before I could catch my breath, everything changed.
I went from backstage Broadway to center stage Hollywood.
From being unknown, to my name, Neevah Saint, on everyone’s lips.
Canon casts me in a star-studded Harlem Renaissance biopic,
catapulting me into another stratosphere.

But stars shine brightest in the dead of night.
Forbidden attraction, scandal and circumstances beyond my control jeopardize my dream.
Could this one shot—the role of a lifetime, the love of a lifetime—cost me everything?

Aarya: The audiobook duration is over sixteen hours! I super love how Kennedy doesn’t shy away from angsty romance epics. If you’re in the mood to drown in feelings, her books are the perfect read.

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The Wolf and the Woodsman

The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid

Author: Ava Reid
Released: June 8, 2021 by HarperVoyager
Genre: Historical: European, Science Fiction/Fantasy

In the vein of Naomi Novik’s New York Times bestseller Spinning Silver and Katherine Arden’s national bestseller The Bear and the Nightingale, this unforgettable debut— inspired by Hungarian history and Jewish mythology—follows a young pagan woman with hidden powers and a one-eyed captain of the Woodsmen as they form an unlikely alliance to thwart a tyrant.

In her forest-veiled pagan village, Évike is the only woman without power, making her an outcast clearly abandoned by the gods. The villagers blame her corrupted bloodline—her father was a Yehuli man, one of the much-loathed servants of the fanatical king. When soldiers arrive from the Holy Order of Woodsmen to claim a pagan girl for the king’s blood sacrifice, Évike is betrayed by her fellow villagers and surrendered.

But when monsters attack the Woodsmen and their captive en route, slaughtering everyone but Évike and the cold, one-eyed captain, they have no choice but to rely on each other. Except he’s no ordinary Woodsman—he’s the disgraced prince, Gáspár Bárány, whose father needs pagan magic to consolidate his power. Gáspár fears that his cruelly zealous brother plans to seize the throne and instigate a violent reign that would damn the pagans and the Yehuli alike. As the son of a reviled foreign queen, Gáspár understands what it’s like to be an outcast, and he and Évike make a tenuous pact to stop his brother.

As their mission takes them from the bitter northern tundra to the smog-choked capital, their mutual loathing slowly turns to affection, bound by a shared history of alienation and oppression. However, trust can easily turn to betrayal, and as Évike reconnects with her estranged father and discovers her own hidden magic, she and Gáspár need to decide whose side they’re on, and what they’re willing to give up for a nation that never cared for them at all.

Amanda: As someone whose family came from Hungary four generations ago, I’m always looking to absorb more about the country through fiction.

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