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‘Tis the month for Romance, nothing makes a better Valentine to yourself or a loved one than a brand-new book of guaranteed swoons!

  • Infinity Alchemist

    Infinity Alchemist by Kacen Callender

    Infinity Alchemist is a spellbinding novel about a quest that leads three young alchemists toward unexpected love and unimaginable power.

    For Ash Woods, practicing alchemy is a crime.

    Only an elite few are legally permitted to study the science of magic―so when Ash is rejected by the Lancaster Mage’s College, he takes a job as the school’s groundskeeper instead, forced to learn alchemy in secret.

    When he’s discovered by the condescending and brilliant apprentice Ramsay Thorne, Ash is sure he’s about to be arrested―but instead of calling the reds, Ramsay surprises Ash by making him an offer: Ramsay will keep Ash’s secret if he helps her find the legendary Book of Source, a sacred text that gives its reader extraordinary power.

    As Ash and Ramsay work together and their feelings for each other grow, Ash discovers their mission is more dangerous than he imagined, pitting them against influential and powerful alchemists―Ash’s estranged father included. Ash’s journey takes him through the cities and wilds across New Anglia, forcing him to discover his own definition of true power and how far he and other alchemists will go to seize it.

    Featuring trans, queer, and polyamorous characters of color, Infinity Alchemist is the hugely anticipated young adult fantasy debut from the extraordinary author of Felix Ever AfterKing and the DragonfliesQueen of the Conquered and more.

    I am wildly inclined to simply add anything Kacen Callender ever does to my TBR. There are few authors with the range to make me cry my face off with one book and make my heart swoop with the next, and to bounce between contemporary and fantasy so seamlessly, but there’s a reason Callender is an award-winner, and it’s hard to get more intriguing than with a polyam YA fantasy revolving around alchemy and a magic school that promises to be considerably more diverse than Hogwarts.

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  • Skater Boy

    Skater Boy by Anthony Nerada

    In this YA pop punk debut about queer romance and destroying labels, a teen risks everything to write his own story.

    Stonebridge High’s resident bad boy, seventeen-year-old Wesley “Big Mac” Mackenzie, is failing senior year—thanks to his unchecked anger, rowdy friends, and a tendency to ditch his homework for skateboarding and a secret photography habit. So when his mom drags him to a production of The Nutcracker, Wes isn’t interested at all . . . until he sees Tristan Monroe. Mr. Nutcracker himself.

    Wes knows he shouldn’t like Tristan; after all, he’s a ballet dancer, and Wes is as closeted as they come. But when they start spending time together, Wes can’t seem to get Tristan out of his head. Driven by a new sense of purpose, Wes begins to think that—despite every authority figure telling him otherwise—maybe he can change for the better and graduate on time.

    As a falling out with his friends becomes inevitable, Wes realizes that being himself means taking a stand—if only he can blow up the bad-boy reputation he never wanted in the first place.

    From a debut author to watch, Skater Boy delivers a heart-wrenching, validating, and honest story about what it means to be gay in a world where you don’t fit in.

    If you grew up on Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8r Boi,” you simply cannot miss this one. The callout to the original is *chef’s kiss*, the book itself is described as a “pop punk debut,” and we can all hail a book whose message is “There’s no one right way to be gay.”

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  • How You Get the Girl

    How You Get the Girl by Anita Kelly

    Chemistry sizzles in this workplace rom-com set in the world of high school basketball from the author of  Love & Other Disasters , named a “must-read” by  USA Today , PopSugar, SheReads, and Harper Bazaar.

    When smart-mouthed Vanessa Lerner joins the high school basketball team Julie Parker coaches, Julie’s ready for the challenge. What she’s not ready for is Vanessa’s new foster parent, Elle Cochrane—former University of Tennessee basketball star. While star-struck at first, soon Julie persuades Elle to step into the unfilled position of assistant coach for the year.

    Even though Elle has stayed out of the basketball world since an injury ended her short-lived WNBA career, the gig might be a way to become closer to Vanessa—and to spend more time with Julie, who makes Elle laugh. As the coaches grow closer, Elle has a hard time understanding how Julie is single. When Julie reveals her lifelong insecurity about dating and how she wishes it was more like sports—being able to practice first—it sparks an intriguing idea. While Elle still doubts her abilities as a basketball coach, helping Julie figure out dating is definitely something she can do. But as the basketball season progresses, and lines grow increasingly blurred, Julie and Elle must decide to join the game—or retreat to the sidelines.

    Authors who come out (heh) with a new pairing each book are among my absolute faves writing queer romance, so I’m extra-psyched to see the ever-reliable Anita Kelly’s first f/f novel after having already crushed it with f/nb and m/m. Plus, sports, a foster parent, dating practice… consider all my boxes ticked.

     

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  • The Friendship Study

    The Friendship Study by Ruby Barrett

    Jesse Logan doesn’t want a fresh start. He wants his old life back—before an injury made his career as a firefighter impossible, before his grandfather’s Alzheimer’s got so bad he doesn’t recognize Jesse anymore. When a friend tells him about a paid psychological study, Jesse sees it as a chance to get back to the man he was while making a little extra cash.

    All Lulu Banks is asking for is a fresh start. Back home after a devastating breakup, she’s struggling to find her place. She’s always been a lot—too loud, too eager, too obvious about her feelings. The friendship study seems like a great idea…until she’s paired with Jesse Logan, who recently ghosted her after a blind date that led to a steamy make-out session.

    Now that old familiar tension is back. Despite the program’s strict “no romance” rule, Jesse and Lulu are quick to find a work-around that allows them to explore their tenuous connection. And soon they’re on their way to total self-improvement…

    As long as they don’t get caught.

    That thumb. On her throat. Even if I didn’t love bi m/f almost as a rule, and even if I didn’t know Ruby Barrett would guarantee hotness, and even if it wasn’t blurbed by three of my absolute favorite Romance authors, and even if the hero weren’t a former firefighter, and even if the premise didn’t promise a sexy, forbidden vibe… that thumb, man.

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  • Love and Hot Chicken

    Love and Hot Chicken by Mary Liza Hartong

    The debut of a dynamite new voice from the South, Love and Hot Chicken is a spicy and hilarious Tennessee story about family, friendship, fried chicken, and two girls in love.

    The Chickie Shak is something of a historical landmark. Red clapboard walls, thriving wasp population, yard-toilets resplendent with sunflowers. My best friend Lee Ray and I used to come after our softball games and snag a picnic table while our mammas ordered the home team special. Truth is, most people around here order the same thing until the day somebody throws their ashes off a roller coaster at Dollywood. The line snaked around the building far as you could see, a real parade of diversity hobnobbing in the parking lot from noon until night.

    When PJ Spoon returns home for her beloved daddy’s funeral, she doesn’t expect to stick around. Why abandon her PhD program at Vanderbilt for the humble charms of her hometown, Pennywhistle, Tennessee? She tells herself it’s to help her brokenhearted Mamma, but PJ’s own heart’s not doing too good either. She impulsively takes a job as a fry cook at Pennywhistle’s beloved Chickie Shak, where locals gather for Nashville-style hot chicken.

    Then fate shakes up PJ’s life again. While the town rallies around the terribly retro and terribly fun Hot Chicken Pageant, PJ finally notices her cute redheaded coworker Boof, a singer-songwriter with a talent as striking as her curly hair.

    While PJ and Boof fall for each other, Boof’s search for her birth mother—a Pennywhistle native—catapults the budding couple into a mystery that might be better left unsolved. When the Chickie Shak pageant takes off, old rivalries and new friendships in Pennywhistle lead to unexpected fireworks, and new beginnings.

    Premise-wise, this is admittedly more “contemporary fiction” than capital-R romance, but it’s rare to see a book quite so southern about women falling in love, and I am definitely here for both southern Sapphics and, frankly, hot chicken, especially when there’s both a mystery and a pageant involved.

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