Hello everybody. Today I’m recommending three newly released romance novels published between June and July 2020. Read on for free excerpts from each book.
More than neighbors by Shannon Stacey
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition
Publication date: July 1st 2020
About the author: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shannon Stacey lives with her husband and two sons in New England, where her two favorite activities are writing stories of happily ever after and off-roading with her friends and family. You can contact Shannon through her website, http://www.shannonstacey.com, as well as sign up for her newsletter.
Official synopsis: Cam Maguire is in Blackberry Bay to unravel a family secret. Meredith Price has moved next door with her daughter. He’s unattached. She’s a widowed single mom. He’s owned by a cat. She’s definitely team canine. All these neighbors have in common is a property line. One they cross…over and over. And Cam thought he knew what he wanted—until his family’s secret changes everything.
Cam Maguire wasn’t sure what to make of finding a beautiful woman, a little girl and a tiny bit of fluff that he was pretty sure was a dog in the yard when he went outside to look for his grandmother’s cat.
He’d heard all the jokes about cats being real jerks and secretly plotting the demise of the
humans who cared for them. He used to laugh at those jokes.
He didn’t laugh anymore.
“I don’t understand,” the woman—Meredith, she’d said her name was—said and he realized she was still confused about why he was living next door to her.
“The woman who lived here, Carolina Archambault, was my grandmother and she passed away recently. I guess it must have been after you talked to your real estate agent about the neighbors.”
“I’m so sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you,” he said, because it was the right thing to say. And he did feel a sense of loss.
It was his loss that he’d never met the woman who was his biological paternal grandmother and who had lived in this eccentric and colorful cottage by the lake.
“There you are,” he said to the extremely large and very long-haired black cat who sauntered into the yard as if she hadn’t disappeared for four hours to who knew where. And she had burrs in her tail again. Getting those things out of her fur made him wish he’d been a hockey goalie in college so he’d have the proper safety equipment for the job. “I’ve been looking for you.”
Elinor—which was a ridiculous name for a cat, if you asked him—ignored him as expected and walked onto the neighbor’s grass as if she owned it.
The little girl had left the dock and was exploring the yard with her dog, its leash clutched in her little hand. The dog watched the cat warily, but appeared to be smart enough not to mess with her. And Sophie was a cute kid, with long brownish-blond hair like her mother’s. They looked a lot alike, actually, right down to their serious expressions.
“I’d offer to give you tips on living in Blackberry Bay,” he said, “but I haven’t been here very long.”
“I’m from here, actually. I’ve been in California for years, so it might have changed a little, but I’m guessing not very much.”
“What brings you back?” He instantly regretted asking the question when sadness flitted across her pretty face and settled in the tautness of her mouth.
“My husband passed away a couple of years ago and I decided Sophie and I would be happier here, near my parents. And I have some pretty fond memories of the town, too.”
As her words sank in, he looked back to the little girl, trying to imagine how devastating it must have been for her to lose her daddy at such a young age. And how much harder the grieving process must have been for Meredith because she had to get Sophie through it. He’d never suffered that kind of loss, but imagining their sorrow hit him in the gut.
“I’m sorry about your husband,” he said sincerely as he looked back to Meredith.
“Thank you.” She gave him a tight smile. “So you’re staying for the summer, you said? Where do you usually live?”
Just Like That by Cole McCade
Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, M/M Romance
Publisher: Carina Adores
Publication date: June 30th 2020
About the author: Cole McCade is a New Orleans-born Southern boy without the Southern accent, currently residing somewhere in Seattle. He spends his days as a suit-and-tie corporate consultant and business writer, and his nights writing contemporary romance and erotica that flirts with the edge of taboo—when he’s not being tackled by two hyperactive cats. He also writes genre-bending science fiction and fantasy tinged with a touch of horror and flavored by the influences of his multiethnic, multicultural, multilingual background as Xen. He wavers between calling himself bisexual, calling himself queer, and trying to figure out where “demi” fits into the whole mess—but no matter what word he uses he’s a staunch advocate of LGBTQIA and POC representation and visibility in genre fiction.
Official synopsis: Summer Hemlock never meant to come back to Omen, Massachusetts. But with his mother in need of help, Summer has no choice but to return to his hometown, take up a teaching residency at the Albin Academy boarding school—and work directly under the man who made his teenage years miserable. Professor Fox Iseya. Forbidding, aloof, commanding: psychology instructor Iseya is a cipher who’s always fascinated and intimidated shy, anxious Summer. But that fascination turns into something more when the older man challenges Summer to be brave. What starts as a daily game to reward Summer with a kiss for every obstacle overcome turns passionate, and a professional relationship turns quickly personal. Yet Iseya’s walls of grief may be too high for someone like Summer to climb…until Summer’s infectious warmth shows Fox everything he’s been missing in life. Now both men must be brave enough to trust each other, to take that leap. To find the love they’ve always needed… Just like that.
“Extinguisher first, then sand,” the voice ordered. “Dr. Liu, if you insist on getting in the way, at least make yourself useful and remove anything else flammable from the vicinity of the blaze. Quickly, now. Keep your mouths covered.”
Summer’s entire body tingled, prickled, as if his skin had drawn too tight. That voice—that voice brought back too many memories. Afternoons in his psychology elective class, staring down at his textbook and doodling in his notebook and refusing to look up, to look at anyone, while that voice washed over him for an hour. Summer knew that voice almost better than the face attached to it, every inflection and cadence, the way it could command silence with a quiet word more effectively than any shout.
And how sometimes it seemed more expressive than the cold, withdrawn expression of the man he remembered, standing tall and stern in front of a class of boys who were all just a little bit afraid of him.
Summer had never been afraid, not really.
But he hadn’t had the courage to whisper to himself what he’d really felt, when he’d been a hopeless boy who’d done everything he could to be invisible.
Heart beating harder, he followed the sound of that voice to the open doorway of a smoke-filled room, the entire chemistry lab a haze of gray and black and crackling orange; from what he could tell a table was…on fire? Or at least the substance inside a blackened beaker was on fire, belching out a seemingly never-ending, impossible billow of smoke and flame.
Several smaller fires burned throughout the room; it looked as though sparks had jumped to catch on notebooks, papers, books. Several indistinct shapes alternately sprayed the conflagration with fire extinguishers and doused it with little hand buckets of sand from the emergency kit in the corner of the room, everyone working clumsily one-handed while they held wet paper towels over their noses and mouths with the other.
And standing tall over them all—several teachers and older students, it looked like—was the one man Summer had returned to Omen to see.
He stood head and shoulders above the rest, his broad-shouldered, leanly angular frame as proud as a battle standard, elegant in a trim white button-down tucked into dark gray slacks, suspenders striping in neat black lines down his chest. Behind slim glasses, his pale, sharply angled gray eyes flicked swiftly over the room, set in a narrow, graceful face that had only weathered with age into an ivory mask of quiet, aloof beauty.
The sleek slick of his ink-black hair was pulled back from his face as always—but as always, he could never quite keep the soft strands inside their tie, and several wisped free to frame his face, lay against his long, smooth neck, pour down his shoulders and back. He held a damp paper towel over his mouth, neatly folded into a square, and spoke through it to direct the frazzled-looking group with consummate calm, taking complete control of the situation.
And complete control of Summer, as Iseya’s gaze abruptly snapped to him, locking on him from across the room. “Why have you not evacuated?” Iseya demanded coldly, his words precise, inflected with a softly cultured accent. “Please vacate the premises until we’ve contained the blaze.”
Summer dropped his eyes immediately—habit, staring down at his feet. “Oh, um—I came to help,” he mumbled through the collar of his shirt.
A pause, then, “You’re not a student. Who are you?”
That shouldn’t sting.
But then it had been seven years, he’d only been in two of Iseya’s classes…and he’d changed, since he’d left Omen.
At least, he hoped he had.
That was why he’d run away, after all. To shake off the boy he’d been; to find himself in a big city like Baltimore, and maybe, just maybe…
Learn not to be so afraid.
But he almost couldn’t bring himself to speak, while the silence demanded an answer. “I’m not a student anymore,” he corrected, almost under his breath. “It’s…it’s me. Summer. Summer Hemlock. Your new TA.” He made himself look up, even if he didn’t raise his head, peeking at Iseya through the wreathing of smoke that made the man look like some strange and ghostly figure, this ethereal spirit swirled in mist and darkness. “Hi, Professor Iseya. Hi.”
Hate Crush by Angelina M. Lopez
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication date: June 29th 2020
About the author: Angelina M. Lopez wrote “arthur” when her kindergarten teacher asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. In the years since she learned to spell the word correctly, she’s been a journalist for an acclaimed city newspaper, a freelance magazine writer, and a content marketer for small businesses. Finally, she found her way back to “author.” Angelina writes sexy, contemporary stories about strong women and the confident men lucky enough to fall in love with them. The fact that her parents own a vineyard in California’s Russian River Valley might imply a certain hedonism about her; it’s not true. She’s a wife and a mom who lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. She makes to-do lists with perfectly drawn check boxes. She checks them with glee.
Official synopsis: Ten years ago, wild child Princesa Sofia Maria Isabel de Esperanza y Santos fell in fast crazy love with heartbreaker Aish Salinger during one California harvest season. Now, all grown up and with the future of her kingdom on her shoulders, she hates him as passionately as she once loved him. Even if her body hasn’t gotten the hate memo. Faking a relationship with the now-famous rock star for the press and public will ensure the success of her new winery and the prosperity of her kingdom. All she has to do is grit her teeth and bear his tattooed presence in her village and winery—her home—for a month. Trying to recover from his own scandal, fallen superstar Aish Salinger jumps at the chance to be near Sofia again. Leaving her was the biggest mistake he’s ever made, and he’s waited ten years to win her back. He never counted on finding a woman who despised him so much she didn’t want to be anywhere near him. A war of wills breaks out as the princess and rock star battle to control their fake relationship. She wants to dictate every action to keep him away from her. He wants to be as close as he can be. She’s already lost so much because of Aish—he won’t be the reason her people lose even more. But he also won’t make her break her life’s most important vow: to never fall in love again.
Aish pulled the bud out of his ear and straightened, never taking his eyes off her as he held it out. When she took the bud from him, she let her fingers linger. His fingertips were warm and that tiny touch sent a frisson down her arm.
She unwrapped the headphones from around her neck and stuffed them into her back pocket. But she didn’t move back.
“I’m a musician,” he said, voice low.
A corner of his mouth went up. “What else do you know?”
That he made every millimeter of her skin buzz. That he smelled like boy and sweat and ocean salt. She hated the nose-clogging scent of cologne. There was nothing fake about the way this boy smelled.
She pulled her long braid over her shoulder and tugged on it. “You’re from LA, your father designs clothes, your mother is a famous fitness instructor. Y…you’re very good at surfing, singing, partying, working harder on less sleep than everyone else and…oh, sí, ménage à trois.”
Shock, mortification, and humor created a palette across his expressive face. “Who said I’m good at threesomes?”
Sofia ran a hand down her braid and shrugged, all Spanish cool. “No sé. I keep my nose to myself. It’s everyone else who talks.”
When he grinned this time, he looked like he might lean down and taste her. “And what does everyone say about you?”
Sofia worked to maintain her smile. She wanted to be no one to nobody. She wanted to have nothing said about her. But even if she’d lived a cloistered life in a high tower, her story would be marred with her parents’ dramas and affairs and fights, ugly public episodes that stripped Sofia of dignity without her involvement. And Princesa Sofia hadn’t lived a cloistered life. Maintaining her dignity hadn’t been high on her list when she’d mooned the crowd from atop a Semana Santa float in Cádiz or when she’d waved drunkenly to the paparazzi from a movie star’s hotel balcony when she was supposed to be presented to the Queen of England. She’d been neither drunk nor sleeping with the star. But her humiliated mother had abandoned the duke’s bedroom she’d been occupying to drag Sofia back to the Monte.
She didn’t want to think about her scandalous past. She didn’t want to think about the demands of her future. All Sofia wanted right now was to be a dirty, half-naked girl wrapped around a beautiful boy in a wine tank.
“I know some stuff about you,” Aish said quietly.
Sofia focused on the air in front of his face and ran her hand down her braid.
“Your name’s Sofia. That’s…really fucking pretty.” He hadn’t said Princess Sofia. He hadn’t said Sofia de Esperanza y Santos. Just Sofia. And he thought it was pretty. She focused again on his eyes.
“You’ve got a great accent.” The air between them felt like it was warming up. “You like grunt work, which is so hot it kinda hurts.”
Nothing about her royal status. Nothing about her reputation. He’d just arrived; perhaps none of the interns had told him about the princess in their midst. Perhaps his uncle had just said, “Make sure the new intern hasn’t passed out. Her name is Sofia.”
“You’re not wearing a bra.” Her mouth opened at that, surprised, as his eyed gripped shut. “I noticed and if you noticed I noticed, I’m sorry ’cause I don’t want you to think I’m a total fucking creeper and scare you away…”
“I don’t think you’re a creeper,” she said, reaching to brush her fingers over his clenched fist. Her breasts were so small she seldom wore a bra. But this boy acted like they were an irresistible temptation.
Aish opened his eyes. “Are you for real?”
Sofia smiled up at him, feeling helpless and foolish and floating.
“I mean, am I having some weird acid flashback?” His urgency seemed to express that it was a real possibility.
“Wouldn’t I be having one, too?” she asked. “And I’ve never done acid.”
“No, no.” He was a lit fuse aimed in her direction. “This could be my own personal hallucination. Because, what the fuck. My uncle tells me to go check on the new intern and inside a tank is a kick-ass, bare-skinned fairy girl listening to elf music. I feel like I’m tripping. Am I?”
With amazement beaming from her, Sofia shook her head.
He reacted like she’d punched him. “Fuck. Your smile. Can I kiss you?”