Eli Lang

Review: Half by Eli Lang


Title: Half
Authors: Eli Lang
Genre/Themes: MM fantasy romance
Release Date: 13 Feb 2017

Author links: Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads
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My rating: 3 Stars


Living between worlds has never been comfortable, but it’s where I’ve always fit: between human and fey, illness and health, magic and reality.

I’ve spent the last six years looking for a cure for the nameless sickness eating me up. If I believed there was one out there, I would keep searching. But there isn’t, so I’ve come back home, where my past and present tangle. Come home to live . . . and to die.

But my father insists I meet Kin. He’s a healer, and determined to help, even though I’m not so hopeful anymore. But Kin isn’t what I expected, in any way. He sees me, not my illness. He reminds me of what it’s like to be alive. And I can’t help falling for him, even though I know it isn’t fair to either of us.

Kin thinks he has the cure I’ve been looking for, but it’s a cure that will change everything: me, my life, my heart. If I refuse, I could lose Kin. But if I take it, I might lose myself.


Before I start this review I feel the need to add a trigger warning which this story doesn't have but for me there needs be one. TW for serious disease/disablity, which is potentially terminal.

This is a debut novel and I was drawn to the premise of an urban fantasy with faeries and the while I enjoyed a lot of things in the story ultimately it was an OK read for me.

I loved the writing style, it's very lyrical, poetic and reminds me a bit of Alexis Hall's writing which I absolutely love.

Eli Lang tells a tender love story, subdued and quiet and in a way I missed there being a stronger conflict at the center of it. The mood was melancholic and self-reflective throughout the story and while I liked it and also felt it was too much at times.

Both main characters, Luke and Kin are interesting and well developed. The focus falls on Luke and his struggles to come to terms with his fate which leads to a lot introspection, thoughts on life and death, im(mortality), the meaning of love. I very much enjoyed how the author explored the complexity of human relations, the difficulty of building and maintaining meaningful connections with the people around.

The romance between Luke and Kin was something I really liked in the story. There was an easy, natural flow to it with the inevitable setbacks and both characters making mistakes and trying to overcome them. We see two people coming together and learning to be together and making compromises and ultimately respecting the decisions the other persons makes.

A major plot in the story was Luke's relationship with his sister and I felt it overshadowed the main plot at times. There was a lot of going back and forth in both relationships (Luke and Kin; Luke and his sister) and some repetition which I found annoying. This affected the flow of the story as a whole making go all too slow at times, nothing much happening.

I was the drawn to the (urban) fantasy setting  and found it interesting but in the end it felt underdeveloped. I was left wanting to learn more about the world of the different faeries.

The ending is a bit unconventional when it comes to romance though it was fitting and came as not surprise. It's a sort of HFN ending, not too optimistic but focused on the now and enjoying the good things while they last without thinking much of the future.

Despite the issues I had with this story, still I found it to be a very tender, imaginative romance beautifully told. It was not quite the right book for me but I loved the author's writing style and I want to read more of her books in the future.

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / Kobo  / Riptide

M/M romance

Review: Insight by Santino Hassell


Title: Insight (The Community #1)
Authors: Santino Hassell
Genre/Themes: PNR mm romance
Release Date: 13 March 2017

Author links: Website / Twitter / Fb group / Goodreads
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My rating: 5 Stars


Growing up the outcast in an infamous family of psychics, Nate Black never learned how to control his empath abilities. Then after five years without contact, his estranged twin turns up dead in New York City. The claim of suicide doesn’t ring true, especially when a mysterious vision tells Nate it was murder. Now his long-hated gift is his only tool to investigate. 

Hitching from his tiny Texas town, Nate is picked up by Trent, a gorgeous engineer who thrives on sarcasm and skepticism. The heat that sparks between them is instant and intense, and Nate ends up trusting Trent with his secrets—something he’s never done before. But once they arrive in the city, the secrets multiply when Nate discovers an underground supernatural community, more missing psychics, and frightening information about his own talent.

Nate is left questioning his connection with Trent. Are their feelings real, or are they being propelled by abilities Nate didn’t realize he had? His fear of his power grows, but Nate must overcome it to find his brother’s killer and trust himself with Trent’s heart.


I'm don't read much PNR but I'm a fan of Santino Hassell and was intrigued by the idea of a romance involving psychics, so picking this book was a no-brainer for me. And I'm so glad I did. 

This is an intriguing story combining a tender and explosive romance with an interesting suspense/mystery plot. There is a bit of everything - a very dysfunctional family, a murder to solve, a road trip during which to fall in love, a big bad mastermind and their organization to bring down. All the while trying to make a relationship work while keeping both yourself and person you love safe.

That's a lot for Nate to deal with, Nate who is a low-level psychic, angry at his family, unable to use/control his gift fully and basically just a young guy dealing with some pretty hard luck in life.

And then he meets Trent and everything changes, Trent is all warmth and sunshine and happiness and optimism. At least that is what Nate psychic gift tells him. And this is very much true, though Trent is not naive or totally out of touch with reality, he is just a genuinely kind person. We see this practical down to Earth, engineer-major guy accept the existence of psychic power and gradually get involved in some serious conspiracy, behind-the-scene actions, yet he stands by Nate without hesitation or doubt.

We get the story from Nate's perspective and we are privy to his innermost thoughts which give us an invaluable insight into his character. I wish we got the same level of familiarity of Trent but only see him from Nate's perspective. He is defined more in his relation to Nate rather than on his own and that is fine with me. He is an invaluable partner, a lover, best friend, the person everyone needs in their lives, especially during turbulent confusing times.

the story, despite being paranormal, is very emotional and raw, and feels real in the way I have come to expect from Santino Hassell. It read very much like romantic suspense which I greatly enjoyed. Nate (and Trent)'s struggle to figure out who to trust and who is the real danger and how to fight it was one exciting ride.

Overall, Insight is a very well written with intriguing plot and likable characters  which made me a very happy reader. And there is still a lot to look forward to in the next two books in the series. I'm excited to see some very interesting characters (Chase, Chase!) get their stories told and  ultimately the good winning the fight against evil. 

Purchase links: KoboRiptide | Amazon | BN | iBooks

Contemporary Romance

Review: Madly by Ruthie Knox


Title: Madly (New York #2)
Author: Ruthie Knox
Date of publication: 14 March 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Author's links:
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My rating: 4.5 stars


Allie Fredericks isn’t supposed to be in Manhattan, hiding in the darkest corner of a hip bar, spying on her own mother—who’s flirting with a man who’s definitely not Allie’s father. Allie’s supposed to be in Wisconsin, planning her parents’ milestone anniversary party. Then Winston Chamberlain walks through the door, with his tailored suit, British accent, and gorgeous eyes, and Allie’s strange mission goes truly sideways.

Winston doesn’t do messy. But after a pretty stranger ropes him into her ridiculous family drama with a fake kiss that gets a little too real, he finds out that messy can be fun. Maybe even a little addicting. And as the night grows longer, Allie and Winston make a list of other wild things they could do together—and what seems like a mismatch leads to a genuine connection. But can their relationship survive as their real lives implode just outside the bedroom door?


Ruthie Knox is one of my favourite authors of contemporary romance. I have enjoyed most of her previous books but somehow I missed that she started a new series. I haven't read Truly yet but after I finished Madly which I absolutely loved, the first thing I did was to go on Amazon an get it :)

Madly is exactly the kind of contemporary romance I like to read - life-like complex characters, struggling with life and love, discovering themselves, making mistakes and growing up as people. And the romance part was just perfect - a bit whimsical, both characters acting simultaneously slow and fast, cautious and daring.

The heroine, Allie, is fabulous in my opinion and I feel there is a lack of heroines like her in romance. She is young and independent and smart and financially successful. She doesn't depend on no man and doesn't need a man in her life to support her, take care of her. She needs and finds a partner, someone who appreciates and loves her with all her contradictions and complexity - being smart and beautiful, young and rich, self-confident but also desperately trying to keep her family together, hungry for the love and approval of her loved ones, deeply involved (albeit, often misguidedly) with their lives.

Winston was an interesting character as well. He has just turned 40, divorced, re-evaluating his life. He appeared stuffy and distant, too set in his ways, deeply unhappy and lost. he was not prepared for Allie and all the possibilities she brought with her. And it took him some time to grasp it and take a chance on being happy, on falling in love, on being vulnerable and honest with himself and the peole in his life he cares about.

I liked how Allie and Winston challenged each other, how they opened up to one another. The game of the list of sexual dares that want to try was an interesting and effective way to bring them together in raw honesty. Their romance was a curious mix of daring and hesitation, of I-don't-need-this-in-my-life-right-now and This-is-so-exciting-and-new-and-perfect-for-me.

The story explored different family relationships, between sibling, between parents and children, withing the romantic couples themselves. in all their complexity and dysfunction. And I liked where the author went with all of them. Through them she built a compelling picture of the characters' lives - complex, interwoven, changing and evolving.

I have only one minor quibble with the story and this has to do with Allie's mum and her relationship with her dad and her artistic career. I was surprised with the development of this plotline and I am not sure how to take it. On the one hand she is presented as a strong woman, one that balanced having a family and a suitable way to express her creativity. She is someone who hasn't sacrificed her dreams but have found an alternative way to pursue them. On the other hand, I felt her behaviour was deceptive to her family, keeping a secret like that, leading a double life. This didn't sit very well with me. I'd say it is a matter of personal preference and not a weakness of the story itself. Other readers may not feel like that about it, so don't let this minor issue of mine stop you from taking a chance on this wonderfully complex romance. 

Madly it's a beautiful and compelling modern day love story that fans of contemporary romance would greatly enjoy.

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / Ibooks / Kobo

Gilded Age

Review: Mogul by Joanna Shupe


Title: Mogul (The Knickerbocker Club #3)
Author: Joanna Shupe
Date of publication: 31 Jan 2017
Genre: Historical romance, Gilded Age
Author links: Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads
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My rating: 3 Stars


The privileged members of the Knickerbocker Club can never climb too high up the social ladder. But for one charming New York bachelor, does the ascent take precedence over love in the Gilded Age?

As owner of a well-respected national newspaper, Calvin Cabot has the means to indulge his capricious taste for excess—and the power to bring the upper crust of society to its knees. So when a desperate heiress from his past begs for his help, Calvin agrees . . . as long as she promises to stay out of his way. Except, like the newsman, this willful beauty always gets what she wants.

Lillian Davies lives a life brimming with boundless parties, impressive yachts, and exotic getaways. But when her brother disappears, Lily knows that blood runs thicker than champagne and she'll spare nothing to bring him back alive. Unfortunately, the only man who can help her is the one she never wanted to see again. Can Lily keep Calvin at arm's length long enough to save her brother and protect her name . . . even when the tenacious powerbroker turns out to be absolutely irresistible?


I enjoy this intriguing series a lot, the first two book were a lot of fun to read. I had great expectations of this one too and till the very end it was a solid 4 star read till the very end but the very abrupt and rushed ending spoiled it all for me.

I like the Gilded Age NY setting, the abundant historical details built a powerful sense of time and place and brought me deep into the story and really bring into to the story. This story focused a lot of the social/political issues of the period - the situation with the Chinese immigrants and the women entering business. 

I found the way the Chinese characters were presented convincing and respectful. There were the main part of the subplot but also central to the conflict in the main plot. I dare say the author created complex diverse characters and focused on their issues even though the main couple were white American.

What I enjoyed the most in this book was the romance itself. It was a second chance, lovers-to enemies-to lovers story that I found absolutely fascinating. The chemistry between Calvin and Lilly was explosive and I appreciate the sex positive attitude the author created by giving us a heroine who acted free and wild and uninhibited with her lover. 

The mystery element of the plot worked well for me as well. It kept me invested till the end but never overshadowing the romance. 

My greatest disappointment was the ending. I literally tapped my Kindle repeatedly hoping to open the next page. I just couldn't believe the author ended a well plotted, complex love story in such a rushed unsatisfactory way.

Purchase links: AMAZON / B&N / IBOOKS / KOBO

Author Interview

New and Debut: Emily Leigh


Another Monday, another new author to meet. Stop by to meet Emily Leigh, author of contemporary romance. You can read what she shared about herself and there is a short excerpt from her latest release, Kiss me, Cooper, for you to enjoy.

1. Tell us about yourself and why did you decide to become a romance writer?

I’ve always read. In fact, I can’t recall a single childhood memory in which I a) didn’t have a book or b) wish I had a book. For a while, when I got grounded a lot because I was super rebellious (or an angel, let’s go with misunderstood angel), it was actually pretty spectacular because I was sent to my room with no TV and no other people. DO YOU KNOW HOW AWESOME THAT WAS? It was awesome. Anyway, I loved to read but I was and still kind of am, very specific about the types of books I read. I always wanted the happy ending. I always wanted the guy to get the girl and the villain to be vanquished. Romance gave me that. The first romance I ever read was a Nora Roberts I found stashed in the bottom of my mom’s sewing basket. In my house, books belonged to everyone so imagine my surprise when I found a hidden book. Imagine my further surprise (I think I was 12 or 13) when I opened the book to the page my mom had marked and there was kissing with a tongue and then… other things with a tongue. I had two thoughts: 1. I shouldn’t be reading this but holy hell was I going to keep reading and 2. How could my mom stop reading right at this very point? I very quickly read the book – Montana Sky, I think it was, and then immediately blew all my babysitting money (I hated babysitting so this was a big deal to go through it all at once) on more Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, and Norah Hess. Does anyone remember the absolute crazysauce that was Norah Hess? No? Do yourself a favor and go look up Snow Fire right now. Go on, I’ll wait. Just read the blurb and look at the cover. Then devour the story of Flame and Stone.

2. Can you share some of your favorite books and authors?

My number one favorite book (series because I’m a series girl) is Anne of Green Gables. I think this series was kind of ahead of its time. I mean, Anne is funny and resourceful and she overcomes the way she thinks she looks to get the boy in the end. And she makes him wait. She makes him agonize. She owns him. Plus, come on, Gilbert Blythe? Yes please.

Today my favorites are Nora (still), Kristan Higgins, Jennifer Crusie, Julia Quinn (because my first foray into romance was Regency and ho boy was that a hot mess but super fun) and Jo Goodman (hello cowboys and the incredible women who outmaneuver said cowboy every time).

One thing all these books/authors have in common is the type of heroine – smart, sassy, resourceful – and the character driven plots. These women aren’t afraid to go after what they want, once they realize what they want, and they sacrifice to get there making it all worth it in the end.

3. Who/what do you consider your writing influence/inspiration?

I take my cues from my favorite authors but I also love TV and movies. Netflix is my jam. One thing I noticed in TV is that a long-running series can be either a very excellent thing or a very disappointing thing. Consider 22 episodes over the course of say 10 years – how to you keep it exciting? Some of my lessons come from ahem, missteps of others. I will close a book or turn of a TV show if the writing ends up lazy which usually means the characters start changing personality for the sake of the conflict or the characters do the same thing over and over and over and never learn.

TV I love: Big Bang Theory, Homeland (I know, not happy at all), Santa Clarita Diet (which I recently discovered and devoured – which is a pun and a very good one if you’ve watched the show, thank you very much).

Movies I love: epics like Star Wars and Lord of the Ring, Pride and Prejudice (the 2003 version with Kiera Knightly… ducking), Juno, and Something’s Gotta Give.

4. What kind of stories can the readers expect from you?

Happy ones? Vague I know but 100% true. Real people dealing in real situations but with a touch of sparkly happiness that makes you feel good and want to sink into a hot bath with a glass of Coke (or wine, but I love Coke) or sit in a beach chair at the ocean all by yourself (kids are super overrated at the beach) and lose yourself in a story of a smart woman looking for her own brand of happy ever after.

5. Introduce your latest release

My latest release is part of a multi-author series set in present day Nashville. I visited there a few years ago with my fellow authors and fell completely and irrevocably in love with the city and the people.

In Kiss Me, Cooper, Georgia Montgomery learns that sometimes running away means finding home. And Cooper Quinn, the deliciously grumpy bookstore owner (seriously, how is that not hot – he’s a dude who loves books so much he has his own store) finds out that love happens whether he wants it or not – and he wants it, so bad! There is a road trip, a beach, a cat (named Cat Two or Cat Too or Jane Austen… it’s a whole thing) and did I mention the bookstore? It’s called The Angry Cat. Boom.


Georgia Montgomery abandoned a promising future when she left home following a tragedy. As a paralegal at an up-and-coming law firm on idyllic Hale Street in Nashville, Georgia buried her past – and her dreams – to build a new life. Convincing Cooper Quinn, a reclusive and cranky-but-oh-so-devastating bookstore owner, to open up is part of her new life plan.

Cooper's quiet bookstore life suits him just fine, and he's determined to avoid the chaos that inevitably follows Georgia. She's strong and loud and beautiful. Indestructible. But when one frustrated kiss leads to a thousand, Cooper realizes there is more to Georgia than meets the eye and her force-of-nature personality just might be destined to change his world forever.

Can you call it running away when you find the place you were always meant to be?


Kiss Me, Cooper – Chapter One 

Georgia Montgomery rubbed hard at her eyes and blinked to clear the blur created by her computer screen. Down on the street, two stories below, came the whine of a steel guitar, the rich tones of a lead singer woven through with the hum of fifty or so of Hale Street’s closest friends enjoying a summer night block party. In Hudson’s office, inside the fridge he kept stocked with Dr. Pepper was Georgia’s contribution to the party the girls of Sugar Babies Sweet Shop had organized. She had three large jugs of mint julep and the ingredients for more if needed. With this group, more was always better. 

The brief she was working on would only take thirty minutes or so and then Georgia could go down herself. She was looking forward to a few hours in the easy, casual company of the friends she’d made since joining Hudson Bennett’s law firm on Hale Street as a paralegal. He’d been up twice, Hudson had, to badger, bully, and blackmail her into coming to the party. The blackmail hadn’t worked out very well, she noted with some satisfaction. In an office this small, just the two of them, it was tit for tat. So when he threatened to tell everyone that she had a secret obsession with Family Feud, Georgia pulled out the big guns and simply told him that if he tried to take that low road, she’d reveal the fact that his mother called him three times a week and always referred to him by his baby name — Cinnamon Buns. He’d turned pale over that. 

Besides, the brief was due in court on Wednesday, and if she didn’t do it now, he’d have to take over and finish it on Sunday because Mandy was coming in on Monday to make sure all the facts were straight. 

And Georgia wanted to finish it. Mandy Baker was suing her husband for full custody of their two children, and it had to go right, it had to be perfect before going to the judge. It was up to her to make sure every piece of evidence was in place and the compelling arguments lined up perfectly to0, so that Hudson’s presenting arguments could ensure Mandy and her two boys were safe. Georgia had seen Mandy’s bruises. It had to go right. 

Renewed by that thought, Georgia slipped off her flats and tucked her feet up under her, pulled the rolling chair close to the desk, and got back to work. The noise faded along with the ache in her shoulders and the tightness behind her eyes as she settled into the groove and rhythm of the work. It had always been like this for her, honed and heightened as she moved through college and pre-law toward graduation, preparing for law school. She’d taken a dive in that summer after graduation as she was getting ready to head off to Georgetown; things had gone downhill and her motivation shot to all sorts of hell. Here in Nashville, she’d found her way back to a comfortable work pattern. And cases like these always seemed to spike her work mojo, her brain clicking through and discarding options, words, laws until settling on just the right argument, just the right tone to suit whatever judge they happened to be presenting to. 

Done, Georgia saved the file and uploaded it to the shared server, then sent Hudson a notification email. She switched off the computer screen and blinked when the room plunged into darkness. It had still been light when she started, and Georgia sucked in a breath when her gaze hit the digital clock on her desk. It was after nine now and the party below, judging from the loud shout of male laughter, was still going hard. 

Okay, time to go. She shoved her feet into her shoes and, flipping on the overhead lights, went back to Hudson’s office. Bennett Law Offices, located on the second floor of one of the brick buildings that lined Hale Street, consisted of three rooms. The front, her office and the lobby, overlooked the street. Hudson occupied the back of the building, with a tiny supply and copy room between them. Hudson had told her that other buildings might have been a better fit but this one had been ready when he needed the space, and it was right next to Sugar Babies. Sometimes the smell of baking cupcakes wafted over, seeping through the century-old bricks, and filled the office with a warm, buttery scent. 

She would have chosen this spot too. Hale Street was the perfect fit for the boutique law office, and the location played a big part in Georgia’s decision to take the job offer after bouncing around Nashville’s law scene for a few years. 

In Hudson’s office, Georgia opened the refrigerator and pulled out the jugs. She used one hand to shove aside the overflowing pile of papers on Hudson’s desk and set the jugs down. He was a law genius, Hudson, but only when he worked in absolute chaos. Georgia shook her head, bemused, as a tottering pile fell to the floor. Law genius, complete slob. 

When she straightened, her gaze snagged, as it always did, on the Stanford Law diploma hanging behind Hudson’s desk. It never failed to hit her straight in the stomach, a little dip of regret mixed with a healthy dose of shame and misery. But she was doing well now. She was doing what she was meant to do. It was fine. Georgia told herself that every time too. 

“Doesn’t matter,” she muttered and carted the jugs out to the front office, where her phone was beeping with a text. 

Get your ass out here, Montgomery, Hudson had texted. 

“Coming,” she said to the phone, gathered up the rest of her things, and thundered down the stairs, locking the door behind her. As she did every time she locked up, Georgia took a moment to enjoy Hale Street. It was short, only about a half of a city block, but lined on both sides with two- and three-story turn-of-the-century brick buildings. In the glow of the golden street lamps and dazzle of white fairy lights the bakery girls had strung from one side of the street to the other, the brick sidewalks glistened and the wrought iron balconies cast shadows. At the end of the street, a small green space covered over with big, leafy trees and winding paths was situated to one side of the grand Wentworth Hotel. 

She loved it here. She loved that she could walk to work in the mornings. Her darling one-bedroom apartment was on the opposite side of the street from the law offices, in an old warehouse converted to studio apartments on the second and third levels. The main level was earmarked for a business or retail space, and she’d heard rumblings of a wellness spa. From her own balcony, Georgia could see the tops of the trees in the green space, hear the flags snapping in the breeze outside the Wentworth, and watch all the comings and the goings of the street. 

Hudson was there on the sidewalk beside her, already taking the jugs from her hands. 

“Come on, Montgomery, you’re missing the band.” 

She tipped her head back to look at him, noting he’d exchanged his work slacks and button-down for a T-shirt and cargo shorts. He topped her by more than a few inches and Georgia wasn’t a short woman. “I could hear them well enough upstairs when I was doing your work.” 

“Burn,” he drawled, showing off a stellar grin. “And thank you.” 

“We just have to get Mandy’s sign-off on Monday.” 

“We will,” he assured her and led her over to a group of folding tables covered with fluttering white and teal table cloths. Probably Violet, one of the bakery girls, who hurried over and drew Georgia into a happy hug that Georgia returned with equal enthusiasm. 

“Hudson told me he had you up there working all night. I’m glad he finally let you out.” 

“Hey,” Hudson protested mildly but then ignored them in favor of fixing a mint julep. 

“He’s decent enough,” Georgia allowed loudly. She liked Hudson tremendously and fed on the brother-sister vibe. She’d left family behind in Florida, including her three sisters and two brothers (Caroline, Mary, Cheyenne, Dallas, and Houston — Sharon Montgomery had a passion for travel and she applied it liberally to her children’s names) along with a myriad of cousins. She loved coming to work every day, and although he was her boss, it was less like a boss relationship and definitely more family feeling. They were on the same team, she and Hudson, and yeah, oh, yeah, he was something to look at with his preppy East Coast looks — tall, dark, and delicious — but she couldn’t get past the fact that his mom called him Cinnamon Bun or that he slurped his Dr. Pepper in a highly irritating fashion. 

“The turnout is amazing,” Georgia said loudly as the band started up again, this time with a cover of “Ring of Fire.” “You might run out of food and drinks.” 

“Clayborne’s has that covered,” Violet said and waved a hand toward Clayborne’s on the Corner, the family-owned bar situated at the entrance to Hale Street. Hunter Clayborne operated the bar and served as an association member on the Hale Street revitalization effort. “He’s going to start sending groups over there around midnight. That’s when the city said we had to start shutting things down.” 

Georgia passed a friendly wave at Asia Knowles, an assistant manager at Clayborne’s, as she sailed by, and glanced around. It appeared as though the whole street, and their guests, had turned out in fine form. She saw Nessa, who owned the wedding dress shop down the street, twirling around on the arm of Frank Dole, grizzly and grumpy owner of Frank’s Diner, while his wife, Tilly, looked on, laughing. Nick, Violet’s boyfriend and one of Hale’s preferred contractors, was sipping on a beer on the fringes, talking to Burke Wentworth, who owned the hotel at the end of the street. There were others too. Ivy, the bakery goddess, was leading the third bakery girl, Kennedy Lowell, through the crowd talking a million miles a minute while Kennedy smiled indulgently. 

There was Jackson, Kennedy’s brother, chatting with a guy Georgia didn’t recognize and the third Lowell sibling, Sierra. Lurlene, a lifetime resident of one of the apartments above what was now a boot shop, stood on the edges looking for someone to trap into conversation about bats or the evils of technology or whatever other mad genius topic she’d focused on with razor-sharp obsession. Her albino ferret, Snowball, hopped around on his hot pink leash before snuggling down between Lurlene’s oversized green Crocs. 

Georgia looked away quickly before Lurlene could catch her eye. 

“Where’s Cooper?” she asked Violet. 

“I haven’t seen him yet.” Violet glanced toward the building directly next to Sugar Babies and across the street from Clayborne’s. “No lights on in the Angry Cat. He knew we were having the block party; Ivy went over and badgered him about it. Do you think he would have gone home?” 

“Typical if he did,” Georgia said even as the zing of awareness that accompanied Cooper Quinn’s name faded away. “He’s not big on crowds.” 

“He’s getting better,” Violet said, still frowning. “Do you think I should go over there? See if he’s there?” 

“No.” Georgia took a plastic cup from the stack on the table, filled it, and handed it to Violet. “I’ll do it. You go make Nick dance with you.” 

“He won’t.” 

“He will if you ask nicely.” 

Violet grinned. “Yeah, you’re right. Don’t let Cooper say no if he’s over there, okay?” 

Georgia saluted as Violet whirled away, looking insanely in love. It’d be nice, Georgia thought, to have someone to dance with. Someone who lit up when she walked by, like Nick was lighting up now, taking Violet’s outstretched hand, laughing with her, pulling her close as the band slowed it down. 

Nice, she thought and turned toward the Angry Cat Bookstore and Cooper Quinn.

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