Welcome to Rachel Copeland's recommendations! Check out what Rachel has been reading below.
Backup goalie Landon Stackhouse knows that his temporary job with the Calgary team is to shut up and warm the bench, and as a quiet loner, he relishes the opportunity to fade into the background. But his teammate Casey Hicks keeps talking to him, even offering him a place to stay, and Landon can't help but be drawn in by his sweet and friendly nature. Even their teammates are shipping it! But as Landon's time on the team draws to an end, can these two make it work? Wow, okay, somehow, within a few chapters, this book took me from "ugh, hockey" to "these are my sons, and I will go to all of their hockey games." Since I can't do that, I'll just have to hand sell the heck out of this wonderful book. I can't wait for more from Rachel Reid!
Greedy magicians plot to steal all of Britain's magic, and only a small group of misfits stand in their way. Honestly, it's impossible to summarize the third and final book in the Last Binding trilogy without spoiling it and sounding like a crazy person. It's beyond normal human capacity to encapsulate the enormity of this power struggle, the treasure of this friend group built over the previous two books, and the scorching hot romance between two extremely unlikely people. So do yourself a favor and read all three books, then start a group chat with your friends so you can all-caps scream at each other about how Freya Marske has both ruined and saved your life.
When professionally tired English department chair Jason Fitger is pressganged into chaperoning the idiotically named Experience: Abroad winterim program, it's just another indignity in a long career of them. Resigned to revisiting a place he never liked in the first place (England, ironically), it's up to Fitger to keep eleven youths alive and academically engaged for three whole weeks, even if it kills him. The latest from Schumacher completes a trilogy focusing on Fitger and his foibles, but it holds up on its own as an exploration of a specific undergrad experience: the study abroad program. And let me tell you, it's painfully, hilariously accurate. The tours, the essays, the misuse of grammar and idioms, the students ranging from distracted to drunk to far too intense - if you were lucky (or unlucky) enough to experience a study abroad program, whether as a student or teacher, The English Experience will have you howling.
The South is haunted, and so is Titus Crown. A former FBI agent turned first Black sheriff of his hometown of Charon County, Titus's days are filled with white supremacists, holier-than-thou church leaders, and bureaucratic blowhards, but it's the memories that keep him up at night. And then a school shooting uncovers a serial killer in their midst, and nobody in Charon County will be the same. For most people, the prospect of a tightly-plotted narrative with a truly horrifying killer is enough. But the real staying power comes from SA Cosby's voice and the undeniable truth of life in a small Southern town. If you assumed everyone in a small town knows each other, All the Sinners Bleed is here to disabuse you of that notion.
When meek middle school librarian Alexis Stone puts on her sexiest dress and walks into the hottest bar in town, she never expected to actually make a connection with someone. But Logan is her total opposite - foul-mouthed, opinionated, outspoken - in the most thrilling way. Except, it turns out he's an infamous gubernatorial candidate with a playboy rep, and to prevent damage to his campaign after photos leak of the two of them partially unclothed, Alexis has to pretend she's been his girlfriend all along. But that's okay, because Alexis is completely not going to fall for Logan, and Logan is totally not actually head over heels for Alexis. Right? Right. Political romance novels should be so difficult to write, but Ashley Winstead manages to make it look easy. And I'm allergic to politics! The journey toward Alexis finding her voice, and the obvious admiration and support from Logan even as the stress of campaigning takes over, is just so perfectly played. I was clapping with glee, yelling "just kiss already!" randomly, gesticulating wildly to make well thought-out points to fictional characters who couldn't possibly see me, and it was so much fun.
After years of trying to regain his ancestral home from his estranged uncle, Penvale finally gets his lucky break, with one condition - he has to marry his uncle's ward Jane, an ill-tempered young woman who just wants to be left alone with her books. Oh, and the house might be haunted - or at least that's what Jane wants Penvale to think if she's ever going to be rid of him. A Martha Waters book is an insta-read for me, and this might be my new favorite! Nobody mixes farcical comedy with heartfelt romance quite like her. Jane's blunt grumpiness and Penvale's gentle amusement had me laughing from start to finish.
Once again, former safecracking thief Ellie McDonnell takes on an undercover mission in the name of king and country at the request of Major Ramsey, this time in the seaside town of Sunderland. Though instructed to simply await further instructions, when an otherwise perfectly healthy man suddenly dies in the street, Ellie has no choice but to dive into the investigation. With cyanide poisonings and a counterfeiting conspiracy backed by German spies, it's up to Ellie and Major Ramsey to stop the spies before either of them is the next target. Ashley Weaver has really turned up the heat in this third installment, in more ways than one. The constant threat of discovery and death hangs over every interaction, yet Ellie's ingenuity and street smarts never fails to impress. Then there's the slow-simmering something between Ellie and the major - will those two patriots ever get their chance? Weaver has me hooked.
The Night OwlsRomantic Comedy
Mika Moon is lonely; it's the reality of being a modern witch. When she's invited to a mysterious place called Nowhere House to tutor three young witches, she should refuse, but she doesn't. In a house run by a housekeeper, a groundskeeper and his retired actor husband, and a grumpy (and gorgeous) librarian for an absentee archeologist who fosters the girls, Mika is the only person who can help the girls control their magic. Now all Mika has to do is keep the girls' feet on the ground (literally!) and her heart guarded from something she shouldn't want - to love and be loved. Finally, a witch book that really nails it! The magic in this book is that perfect balance of wicca-ish and Sabrina the Teenage Witch silliness, but the real winner is the human element of found family. Mandanna's writing is relentlessly charming - mark me down as devotee!
Following an altercation with the body-father of his sister's newborn child, Prince Kadou must prove his loyalty to his sister, the sultan, and figure out who is behind the counterfeit currency plot that could ruin their country of Arasht. Crippled with anxiety, Kadou finds himself stuck with a terse new bodyguard, Evemer, who doesn't seem to like Kadou all that much. After a series of incidents in which Kadou improbably proves himself more canny, dutiful, and capable than Evemer thought possible, an undying loyalty and trust grows between them - and evolves into something more. In every way, this is the romance I've been waiting for. The slow build between Kadou and Evemer was so well done that I often flipped back to reread passages just for fun. Also, every (non-evil) character in this book is iconic, and Rowland had me cackling, blushing, and screaming at multiple points. Rowland's worldbuilding encompasses not only the touch-taste of precious metals that drives the plot, but also a fully realized system of genders, pronouns, orientations, even degrees of paternity. I finished this work wanting - maybe needing - to revisit it immediately to recapture the feeling of pure joy that infuses every page.
Lena Aldridge has made it to New York City, but she certainly hasn't made it big, not after the disaster that was her recent voyage across the Atlantic. With death in her wake, she looks for insights into her late father's past, only to find even more secrets, and more death. If that weren't enough, her only friend in Harlem, Will Goodman, has secrets of his own, and one of them might be deadly enough to put a target on Lena's back.
Violet Sorrengail comes from a family of military excellence, so when her mother forces her into the dragon rider program, she has no choice but to succeed or die trying. It doesn't help that the war college conscripts the children of rebels executed in the recent uprising, and her mother was the executioner. With fellow cadets looking for any opportunity to kill her and a body that breaks more easily than most, Violet has to rely on her wits to make it through the deadly program. And that's just the beginning! The thing with a new fantasy series is that you just have to dive in and trust that the writer knows what they're doing, and you're in good hands with Yarros. Hands down, this is one of the strongest openings to a fantasy series I've read in years. Violet is a character for us book nerds out there, one who makes you think it's possible to will your way into badassery through sheer determination, and honestly - we love to see it.
Tennal Halkana can't escape the truth of his existence no matter where he runs, who he sleeps with, or how many drugs he takes - he's a mind reader, the result of illegal neuromodification experiments. Out of options, he's conscripted into the military, forced to sync with Surit Yeni, an architect capable of controlling a mind as wild and chaotic as Tennal's. Yet Surit won't sync an unwilling reader, so they fake the sync and plan Tennal's escape. What follows is a fight they never anticipated - for autonomy, for justice, and for each other. Maxwell deepens the worldbuilding established in Winter's Orbit with a focus on the mysterious alien remnants that seem to have endless horrifying possibilities. I don't know how it's possible in a story that engages in difficult topics such as coercion and mental health issues, but Ocean's Echo left me with a distinctly warm feeling. Can one feel hugged by a space opera? Asking for a friend.
Maud Blyth has a mission: pose as a lady's maid on board an ocean liner to escort an old lady who has key information in the fight against a magical conspiracy to steal power from every magician in England. And then the old lady gets murdered. Armed with a notebook filled with her brother Robin's visions of the future, a scandalous actress, a bored lord, a surprisingly helpful thief, and a foulmouthed bird, Maud has to find the murderer before she becomes the next victim. The second book in the Last Binding trilogy manages to capture the same energy of the first book while being almost entirely different - and no matter what, I'm here for the Edwardian clothing, the cat's cradle-esque magic, and the queer romances. One gets the feeling she could take the world established in this trilogy and spin it into a few more series - or maybe that's my wishful thinking. To say I'm ready for the next book would be an understatement - I'm slamming my fists on the desk screaming WANT. BOOK. NOW. Respectfully.
Hannah looks like an ordinary young woman, which is a great advantage in her profession as a bodyguard. Dumped by her boyfriend/coworker the day after her mother's funeral, she's determined stay professional and prove herself to her boss - but then she gets assigned to Jack Stapleton. You know him, of course - twice voted sexiest man alive, blockbuster movie actor, and recently the subject of a death threat or two. With his mother's health in question, Hannah has no choice but to pretend to be Jack's girlfriend in order both keep him safe and not worry his family. Now she just has to do her job... and guard her heart. What a thoroughly charming book this is! Hannah's matter-of-fact voice is so funny that I could listen to her talk about security and guns all day, and Jack is so wonderfully quirky (always misses when throwing away trash, does tricks on horseback) that I couldn't help but fall for him along with Hannah. Center's writing style is super charming and adorably weird (there's a character named Dog House!); I was laughing the whole time.
Lucy loves nothing more than gorillas and her job as a zookeeper, so she's thrilled that her zoo will be featured on a hit nature docuseries... until she's asked to be part of the filming process. Lucy and cameras do not mix, and what's worse is that the show's gorgeous and popular host, Kai Bridges, overhears her complaining about his overblown ego and lack of brains. But if she wants a promotion to senior keeper, she has to play nice - on camera and with her new nemesis. Kerry Rea had me both cackling and crying in this book, which is not an easy thing to do! I enjoyed Lucy's initial pettiness toward Kai quite a bit (maybe more than I should have), and their banter was top tier. This book has a ton of heart, and it left me wanting more in the best way.
Grey Brooks is known for starring in a teenage drama, but she wants more substantial roles now that she's nearing thirty. When her publicist sets up a fake, tabloid-pleasing romance with former-heartthrob-turned-Oscar-winner Ethan Atkins, the arrangement seems easy enough - until it becomes clear that the chemistry isn't only for the paparazzi. But with Ethan's alcohol abuse after the tragedy that derailed his career, is a Hollywood happily ever after even possible for them? I started this book expecting a frothy Hollywood fantasy type romance, but instead I was pleasantly surprised by the gravity and depth of the story. Wilder brings these two lonely characters together in such an artificial way, yet their connection is immediate and palpable. I can't wait to see more from this author.
Beauty and the Beast meets Jane Eyre in this sweet historical romance from Mimi Matthews. Shy bluestocking Julia Wychwood only feels confident on her beloved horse's back. Captain Jasper Blunt seems to be her opposite in every way - from his vicious reputation in battle to the rumors of his illegitimate children locked away in his remote ruined castle, complete with a locked tower room. But his intimidating exterior doesn't fool Julia, and their marriage of convenience might just be the love match of the season. My favorite romance novels are the ones where the two main characters are equals - in this case, both equally lost and needing someone to see past rumors and lies. Historical romance enthusiasts will want to keep an eye on this series from Mimi Matthews!
Fitness influencer Crystal Chen made a name for herself by ignoring the haters - she's curvy and her followers love her body positivity message. When an offensively hot new gym patron steals her squat rack, she takes it upon herself to teach him a few things about gym etiquette. The last person she expects to see at her grandmother's engagement party is Squat Rack Thief - but of course he's the fiancé's grandson. Look, I'm completely allergic to the concept of exercise, but I loved Set on You anyway. Amy Lea captures the stress of being a one-woman social media force and the difficulty of balancing a private life with a public persona. I also enjoyed how, once Crystal and Scott called a truce, the two became best friends in a way that felt so organic. I'm 100% on board to hear more from Amy Lea.
There's a spy aboard the RMS Olympic in 1926, and Jane Wunderly is on the case with Redvers, posing as his wife as they look for the suspect. But what starts out as a search for a spy becomes more complicated when a passenger's husband goes missing, yet his existence is disputed by all but the wife and Jane herself. With everyone else doubting the flighty socialite's claims, it's up to Jane to prove her investigative talents. Three books in, this series delivers! I love all of the historical detail so much, and I especially love that Jane flouts societal standards with quiet confidence. Much like Redvers, I would trust Jane's instincts any day.
For some romance readers, every time we crack open a historical romance, we hope to find a spiritual successor to Pride and Prejudice. I would like to humbly submit that perhaps Sophie Irwin has managed to produce this holy grail: a novel of manners that brings the Regency era to life for a modern audience. After the deaths of her parents, Kitty Talbot has one option to save herself and her four sisters from destitution: she has to marry a man, the richer the better. When a chance encounter lands Kitty and her sister Cecily in the good graces of the de Lacy family, an advantageous match seems inevitable - until the elder de Lacy, Lord Radcliffe, returns to find his younger brother infatuated with a rank upstart. Today's readers can find much to relate to - wealth disparity isn't exactly a thing of the past, after all - while still enjoying nods to a bygone era. Make yourself a cup of tea - this is a story to savor.
Highly competent literary agent Nora Stephens is tired of being the evil shrew girlfriend in the “romantic hero falls for plucky small-town heroine” trope - after the fourth breakup, enough is enough. When her pregnant sister proposes a small-town getaway to embrace romance novel tropes and clock some sister bonding time, Nora begrudgingly agrees. Now if only she could escape the company of her editor nemesis, Charlie Lastra, who's popping up all over the same small town. I really appreciate this book not only for the steamy romance and the meta-commentary on romance novel tropes, but also the representation of people who are not warm and cuddly. There's someone out there for everyone! Emily Henry has such a great facility with making characters who feel real, and Book Lovers might be her best work yet.
Lanie Bloom has a great life - her dream job as an editor and a fiancé who fits every requirement on Lanie's 99-item list, inspired by the works of beloved and reclusive writer Noa Callaway. No one has ever seen her, but Lanie and Noa have corresponded professionally for years. But when Lanie finally learns the truth about her favorite author, everything she thinks she knows is called into question. This book gave me all the good 80s and 90s Meg Ryan rom com vibes, and like a lot of reviewers out there, I actually did read it in one sitting - it's just that addictive. Lanie is a winning protagonist - at times frustratingly impulsive and stubborn, but with an outstanding capacity to reflect and redirect herself in a way that feels both relatable and aspirational. This book left me wanting more in the best way possible - like the best romance novels, I just wanted to spend more time with this story.
Purple-haired scientist Bee Königswasser's big opportunity at NASA comes with one problem in the form of her project's co-lead, the man who hates her the most: Levi Ward. But when she confronts him about missing supplies and lack of email access, suddenly Levi is... nice? Helpful? Supportive? Surely this is some sort of bizarro world where Levi never hated Bee to begin with. I just need to know… how does Ali Hazelwood do it? By the end of the first page, I knew Love on the Brain would be one of my favorite reads of the year. Every page is a delight, every character is wonderful - you just have to read this for yourself.
When artist and banking heiress Hattie Greenfield is found in a compromising position with her father's business rival, intimidating financier Lucian Blackstone, she has no choice but to marry him. As a suffragette and one of the first female scholars admitted to Oxford, Hattie is horrified to lose what little legal autonomy she had to a man she barely knows, even if she is wildly attracted to him. When the two head to Scotland for a business trip instead of a romantic honeymoon, Lucian's taciturn nature and ruthless business tactics start to make sense as she learns of the dire situation of the mining community in her new husband's hometown. There's so much going on in this romance novel, and it's fantastic - Dunmore does the work, setting her characters in the midst of multiple historically accurate legal and moral struggles and touching upon everything from Marx to Sojourner Truth. Oh, and did I mention that this is also a very steamy romance novel? Three books in, Dunmore's ability to balance serious and sexy is verging upon legendary.
"Will everything we build turn to nothing but ugliness?" After the events of Foundryside, Sancia and her friends are making great strides at democratizing the art of scriving in the city of Tevanne. But then an eldritch god is resurrected, one who can rewrite reality and destroy worlds, and Tevanne is the first on his list. Shorefall takes the implications of Foundryside and makes them a horrible reality - a soul-crushing, time-bending, world-ending reality. But what is reality, when symbols can divorce body and mind, when the death of thousands can make endless midnight, when love can rip whole civilizations apart? This book broke my heart in the best way possible; this series is a must-read!
After her boyfriend declares that they should try an open relationship, YouTube-famous violinist Anna Sun decides to use this as an opportunity to break out of her rut. But her first attempt at a one-night stand with Quan Diep isn't successful, or the second or third, because they both have serious issues to overcome. When Anna's lifechanging diagnosis coincides with a family tragedy, Quan is the only one she can turn to - but can they work past their issues and fight for each other? Wow - I didn't think I could love Helen Hoang and her writing more, but this one blew me away. Anna and Quan's struggles are incredibly relatable and so important to discuss and understand. This is the romance novel to shove in people's hands if they dare say romance novels are too fluffy or sentimental.
Diana, Lady Templeton, and Jeremy, Marquess of Willingham, are always at each other's throats - he's an incorrigible rake, and she's a wealthy young widow. When Diana wagers that he'll be married within a year, Jeremy is confident he'll win. But then Jeremy's former mistress gives him negative feedback about his so-called skills, and he realizes he needs an honest review from his toughest critic: Diana. As a longtime reader of Regency-era romance novels, I'm ashamed to say I did not know about this series until the second book. If you read romance for the banter, this one is for you - Waters knows the genre well, and she has aptitude for both winking at tropes and using them sincerely. This book hasn't even been released yet, and I already can't wait to read the next in the series.
Ruthie (responsible, hardworking young manager of a retirement community) and Teddy (flaky, hot mess son of the retirement community owner) are opposites. When once-and-future-tattoo-artist Teddy gets trapped into being a personal assistant for two demanding residents of the community, Ruthie is sure Teddy will be gone the next day. Instead, Teddy thrives, working his way into everyone's hearts with his sweet nature and impulsive, fun personality. With his inevitable departure on the horizon, Ruthie just needs to guard her heart long enough to stay safe in her protective bubble of the retirement community forever. I have to say - this one really got to me. I cared so much about each character, and when I was done reading, I immediately flipped back to my favorite parts to enjoy them again. It's rare to find a romance novel that has both heart and sizzle in equal measure, but Sally Thorne makes it seem easy.
If your employer is evil, are you evil as well? Anna Tomedlov is a hench, temping for various low-rent villains to make ends meet. Her work is making spreadsheets, not holding people hostage or making death rays. When a superhero inadvertently ruins her life, she decides to exact revenge in the only way she knows how: compiling data that proves that superheroes cause way more damage than supervillains. Beginning to end, this novel is so compelling that reading it was effortless. Anna is such a relatable character - like so many hourly workers, she's just trying her best to survive and pay rent. Sure, there are superpowered people in this story, but make no mistake: this is the story of an ordinary young woman using her greatest asset, her brain, to gain power and agency.
Raised by her parents' murderer in the land of Faerie, surrounded by strange magic, fantastical elegance, and unimaginable cruelty for over half her life, Jude Duarte becomes a sword sharpened slowly and painstakingly. Not happy to simply survive amidst the Folk, Jude fights back with hand and mind, surprising and intriguing those who underestimated her. Every choice is a matter of life and death, and trust is not an option. This is an edge-of-your-seat court intrigue plot from the perspective of a teenage girl who just wants to not feel powerless anymore. Jude is a wonderfully realized character, at times scared, jealous, calculating, gullible, loving, and violent - she does not fit into any mold. The endings of both The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King left me breathless. I am dying to read the final installment in this series!
Having been a Max Barry fan for a while now, I have to say - I love this book even more than I hoped I would. It's way more science fiction than his previous novels, in a way that reminded me of The Martian, Ender's Game, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Four people on a battle-ready spaceship run by AI, hunting down murderous alien lifeforms - what could go wrong? Besides being a space adventure, the book also highlights relevant topics, such as replacing human intelligence with AI, developing military at the expense of civilian life, and using media to create a narrative. You won't be able to put this book down!
Seventeen-year-old Lenore's family is the definition of Black excellence - a lawyer, nonprofit business owner, a pre-law student, and an actual 10-year-old genius. So why can't she commit to a major? The summer cruise along the coast of Europe with her family is supposed to be a getaway, perhaps complete with whirlwind romance, but instead the pressure is on to figure out her whole life plan or face the disappointment of her family. Then sweet, helpful Alex Lee with his ten-year med school plan shows up to ruin her whole summer - and steal her heart in the process. This book is so sweet. I really felt for Lenore - not everyone can, or should, figure out their whole life by seventeen! - and I rooted for her as she figured out ways to open up about her struggles with her loved ones. I look forward to more from Elise Bryant!
On the last day of high school, bitter rivals Rowan Roth and Neil McNair have one more chance to one-up each other. It's the school's traditional senior class scavenger hunt around Seattle, and these two overachievers have to set aside their differences and figure out if they'd rather win the grand prize or each other's hearts. This book was a win all the way through! Solomon manages to create a rivalry that wasn't heavily weighed on one side or the other. If you've been craving a well-written YA romance, you should put this one on your list.
When PhD student Dani Brown is rescued by security guard and ex-rugby player Zafir Ansari, they become a minor celebrity couple, complete with their own hashtag. Dani takes it as a sign that she's found her latest friend-with-benefits. Zaf is hesitant - after all, as a romance novel aficionado, he knows that this trope never ends well - but it would be excellent publicity for his sports charity. I could not put this book down! This romance novel is a wonderful follow-up to Get a Life, Chloe Brown, and a story that absolutely stands on its own. Hibbert has a knack for creating lovable, well-rounded characters that are flawed in all-too-familiar ways. I can't wait to see who she makes me fall in love with next.