“Do you remember the 21st night of September?
Love was changing the mind of pretenders
While chasing the clouds away
Our hearts were ringing
In the key that our souls were singing
As we danced in the night,
Remember – how the stars stole the night away…”
So yeah, the 21st night of September has come and gone but really, isn’t all of September the 21st night as long as we have this Earth Wind and Fire song to lift our autumnal spirits? I just love that song. It heralds the oncoming beauty of Fall, which is my favorite season, even if living in the south means it doesn’t feel like Fall until closer to December! I decided to dig into old reading logs to find a fun #TBT today and boy did I hit on a treasure trove of awesome! Two of my favorite releases from 2016 happened in September. Two books that are still go-to recommendations!
First up, Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton and Nina Bocci. I love a well-paced second chance romance. Roman Crazy is definitely more of a Women’s Fiction than straight romance, but we do get an intensely satisfying ending, so read on with peace of mind! The characters in this book, the main, secondary, and scenery, yes, the location is its own character are beautifully constructed and fleshed out. They are complex, smart, and relatable on multiple levels. Avery Bardot is a woman at a crossroads; in spite of all the ways, she contorted herself to fit the role of “good wife” her marriage is over. Her husband is a cheater that’s really never had his feet held to the fire, so to speak. She’s a genius in her archeologic field who has let her career take a backseat for far too long. Daisy is her best friend. She’s quick-witted, honest, and loyal; and working in Rome, which is everything Avery needs to soothe her soul right now. Off she goes!
Marcello is the one that got away. Oh boy, is he dreamy?!!? Marcello is THE man, he is a delicious blast from her past that neither of them recovered from and he just so happens to be seated a few chairs down from Avery at a dinner party celebrating her first night in Rome. Let the Roman Crazy begin! The real beauty of Marcello in his native countryside is depicted in his passionate personality and in the stunning descriptions of Rome. Rome genuinely becomes a secondary character, not just a setting. You will feel the broken cobblestone under your feet, smell the blooming flowers in the air, and taste the pasta in your imagination. Clayton and Bocci do a fabulous job firmly planting you in the landscape.
Roman Crazy is so much more than a second chance romance. It’s also Avery’s second chance at life. She gave up so much of herself in her marriage, finding her footing again, trusting her instincts and opening up to all the possibilities Rome has to offer is a journey in and of itself. Marcello is the icing on the cake…the extra scoop of gelato…the fresh parmesan on the pasta…the…I’m running out of food references! Marcello is not just the snack, he’s the whole damn meal, and lucky Avery gets to dive back in!
Alice Clayton is straight-up funny, I don’t even think she tries to be funny, it’s just her. She and Nina Bocci effortlessly feed off each other, and it shows in the tone of this book. It’s heartfelt and quick-witted and genuinely a pleasure to read and re-read.
Tiffany Reisz’s Her Halloween Treat is a ton of fun. The first book in her Men at Work series, which happens to be one of my favorite Harlequin trilogies. Her Halloween Treat is a friends to lovers, brother’s best friend, rebound no strings sex turns to love romance, and it is perfection! Joey’s boyfriend of two years ends up being a cheater of the worst kind, he’s married, and Joey was none the wiser. When she learns the truth, she, without hesitation, kicks him to the curb. Joey appreciates the old adage, “the best way to get over a man is to get under another one,” and she takes that task to heart!
A month-long stay at her family’s cabin in Oregon lands her right in the crosshairs of her brother’s best friend, Chris. How dare he! When did Chris get so hot and deliciously dirty? Oh yeah, sexy, bearded Chris will do just fine as a rebound guy until both of them catch a crazy case of the feels!
Tiffany Reisz is a brilliant writer. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it forever, her ability to write sharp, witty dialogue is second to none. She makes sex scenes fun and light but also meaningful and soul-shattering; the woman is a writing dichotomy. I can not recommend enough! The Men at Work series covers three holidays in the time frame I refer to as The Eating Season. (Note: The Eating Season starts Oct 31 and runs through Feb 14 – start with candy, end with candy and eat everything in between. I don’t make the rules.) Her Halloween Treat obviously tackles Halloween, Her Naughty Holiday (my favorite in the bunch) covers the often overlooked Thanksgiving festivities and One Hot December, well, you do the math. All three books are fabulous must-reads for everyone!