Unforgettable Valentine by Stella Williams
Contemporary erotic romance novella
Serpentine Creative, LLC, February 12, 2021
Sanai Carlisle sets out on a blustery winter night to surprise her boyfriend. On the way there she collides with Dominic Westmoore and alters the course of both their lives. Unforgettable Valentine is a super sexy romp that uses a clumsy, awkward meet-cute to launch into a mad-cap homage to popular romance tropes. Caught in flagrante delicto, stranded with a stranger, fake relationship, and more combined with surprising moments of profound self-reflection and emotional intimacy make Sanai and Dominic's story a fun, satisfying read. It's a sizzling, sweet bonbon of a tale.
[note: In the NetGalley ARC the spelling of the lead character's name flip flops between Sanai and Sinai.]
Winner Takes All by Sandra Kitt
Sourcebooks Casablanca, April 6, 2021
Juggling the daily responsibilities and last-minute duties for the mayor of New York City gets complicated for Jean Travis when a missed romantic connection from her past shows up in her life one night. For Patrick Bennett it's more money, more problems after he wins the lottery jackpot. Reviving his friendship with Jean is an unexpected benefit amid a series of escalating conflicts, hassles, and unwanted attention. Their friendly, flirty banter, emotional vulnerabilities, and palpable sexual chemistry anchor the story. Second chance love, secrets from the past and present, and romantic weariness themes swirl within the context of the present-day ravenous news and social media appetites for scandal. The layered elements of multifaceted characters who are feeling tugged between their personal and professional lives, private and public personae make Winner Takes All resonate as authentic to 21st-century quandaries about prioritizing one's obligations and desires. With the exception of one outdated, cringe-worthy (despite an obvious attempt at conveying respect) minor Asian character, Jean and Patrick's love story generates (as expressed by Jean in chapter 12) “… feeling a settled and calm kind of contentment.” As the novel that introduces a new series the storyline isn't a barn burner and doesn't need to be as masterfully crafted storytelling that focuses on the drama of messy emotional entanglements. Sandra Kitt was decades ahead of the representative inclusion #OwnVoices wave in mainstream contemporary romance in 1995's The Color of Love and subsequent novels and anthologies that addressed the lived experiences of privileged Black and Brown and Mixed people in non-stereotypical ways. Winner Takes All rewards the patience of S.K.’s long-time fans awaiting her return and introduces newcomers to a venerable O.G. of contemporary love stories.
[a comment about writing dialogue for characters who speak English as a second language or in informal ways: To avoid the cringe factor please consider these questions. If the character's ethnicity is specified, are they the only character from that ethnic group? What un/conscious monolithic assumptions are being projected by this character?]
And a bonus suggestion to satisfy cravings for more serious thoughts on love:
All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks
William Morrow, 2018
A fake holiday celebrates real appreciation for our friends. Here are more stories that celebrate love and friendship, from the RomanceDailyNews.com blog.