venerdì 29 giugno 2018

Scripted Love by Karen Frances


Release Date: 06.29.2018

Synopsis:

Do happy-ever-afters exist outside of a movie script?

For Scottish actress Ella McGregor, this was a serious question. Left broken-hearted by a betrayal of trust, she is determined to pick up the pieces and move forward with her life. The problem is, her ex, Donovan Bell didn’t get the memo about her plans.

Connor Andrews is a man in love, and he wants the whole world to know. The problem with declarations is that they have consequences that place him right in the spotlight, and a long-held secret threatens to rip his idyllic life apart.

In this stunning conclusion to Ella and Connor’s story, can their love survive the challenges they face? Strap yourself in and find out if life is better when you go off script.


Review:



I've enjoyed this book as much as the first one.
I was really glad to read this as soon as I've finished Scripted Reality,I didn't have to wait in order to know more about these characters and their future.

Ella's ex boyfriend and agent has finally showed himself and his vicious plan to hinder her new relationship with the fellow scottish actor Connor Andrews and to make her life miserable.
I grew so attached to the main characters I couldn't not to root for them,to be happy for their successes and to shed few tears when they felt hopeless.

This duet is worth reading,Karen Frances made a great job creating this perfect couple and telling their story.


Excerpt:

Love is waking up with a smile on your face because the first thought of the day is about that special someone who makes your heart all warm and fuzzy. Love is closing your eyes at night, smiling as you drift off to sleep with the same thoughts that you started the day with.

Love is the undeniable ache in your chest when you aren’t around your someone special. Love is so hard to describe, but when you have it in your life, you find yourself grinning from ear to ear. It’s all the silly things you take for granted, like his hand in yours, or his arms wrapped tightly around you as you lie securely, snuggling into his arms. Seeing his face with that perfect white smile when you open your eyes in the morning light. The strength he gives you when he’s around.

You don’t have a choice in who you fall in love with. It happens when you least expect it. Well, that’s what happened in my case.

I wasn’t looking for love

Love found me.

“I love him,” I say softly, and the smile that comes to my lips is easy as I think about my feelings for him.


Scripted Reality by Karen Frances


Release Date: 03.28.2018


Synopsis:

From the outside, Scottish actress Ella McGregor has the perfect life. A list of Hollywood blockbusters under her belt, wealth, a fancy house, flash cars, a great family, and a brilliant boyfriend, Donovan... until she learns he has betrayed her. In fact, Ella’s story could be the script of her next Hollywood blockbuster: Conned – a tale of trusting the wrong person. 

Connor Andrews, Donovan's best friend, has loved Ella since the day they first met five years ago. Too bad for him he didn't get there first, but with Donovan out of the picture, Connor wonders if he may finally have a shot with the woman of his dreams. 

With so much history between them, and heartbroken Ella's world ripped apart, can he make her see he's just what she needs? Will Ella let Connor help her to stand up and fight, or will she run and hide from the one person who she trusts the most? 


Review:


Scripted Reality was a very good read.

I've really enjoyed to follow Ella's journey from her bad relationship with her agent,through her shame for having been too trusting and naive,until her rediscovered self-worth.
Fortunately the beautiful actress Ella Mc McGregor has a lot of good friends and a very protective father and brother that will do anything to shelter,support and help her.

Karen Frances writing is easy to read,the engaging pace and the perfect flow kept my attention from the first chapter until the dreadful cliffhanger.
I'm so glad I could have started the sequel as soon as I've finished this one because I was so curious to know Ella's story ending.

Honor by Andi Jaxon & AJ Alexander


Release Date: 06.27.2018


Synopsis:

Logan has been running from a death bed promise for years, but he’s finally decided to face his fears and claim his forever. Now all he has to do is convince her to take another chance on love. 

Katie buried her husband and made peace with never finding a love that strong again. But when a smooth talking cowboy asks her to dance, fireworks explode, leaving them both desperate for more. 

However, their happiness is darkened by a secret – the secret of who he really is.


Review:


Honor was a very quick read I've finished it in one sitting.

Logan is a beautiful man inside out and an amazing Hero,Katie is a sweet woman.They met at a bar and they felt connected instantly but could they lose all their fears and hesitancies in order to fall in love?

I've enjoyed this story,even if I would have liked to know more about the past of the characters.
The fast paced flow kept me on my toes from start to end,I was really curious to know Katie and Logan fate,but at times I felt it too rushed.



giovedì 28 giugno 2018

Nerdgasm by Kimberly Reese



Release Date: 06.28.2018

Synopsis:

nerdgasm (noun): an emotional climax at the peak of intense (sometimes sexual) excitement, characterized by a deep attraction to nerdy things and/or people.

My stutter makes it easy to become the center of attention for all the wrong reasons, so I try hard to stay out of the spotlight.


But when Addison Mitchell breezes into the class I TA for, she turns my world upside down, shaking me out of my comfort zone.

Confident and bold, her wandering hands set my body on fire.

She sees the real me, and she’s still interested.

I’m completely out of my element, yet I’ve never felt more alive.

Fingers crossed we're not a one-off fling.

I have a lot to learn, but I’m willing to make this work.

I’m going to give her more than a nerdgasm.

I’m going to give her my heart. 


Review:


Nerdgasm was a really good story,cute,sweet,lighthearted and easy to read.

The main characters can't be more different,while our heroine is an outgoing and dynamic girl, our hero is nerdy and shy.She is a student and he is her teacher TA but that won't stop them.
I liked the instantaneous chemistry between Theo and Addy but I have appreciated even more how their relationship develops step-by-step in a more realistic way.

This was the first time I've read this author but I can't wait for more books in this series,there are a couple of characters I want to know better.


The Cleanup by Megan Green


Release Date: 06.28.2018


Synopsis:

Boy meets girl.
Boy screws girl.
Girl gets knocked up. 

That was my story with Brandon Jeffers, power hitter for the Washington Rampage and baseball’s biggest bad boy. He came into my life like a line drive to the face, and he left without looking back. 

It’s okay though, because I’m determined to raise this baby on my own. I mean, women for centuries have navigated parenthood alone…why should I be any different? 

But when the major league star shows up on my doorstep making promises I know he can't keep, my defenses go up and my expectations stay low. 

Brandon says he can clean up his act… 

I’ll believe it when I see it.


Review:



The Cleanup was easy to read,it could be read as a stand-alone but I suggest you to read Ian and Lexi's story too.
I liked to be back to Maple Lake and to see again the characters I've meet in the previous book in the Washington Rampage series.

Liv choices could be egotistical at times but I can understand her hesitancy with a youth like hers.Brandon has to show Liv she is the only woman in his life in order to make her forget about all her fears to be rejected and forgotten.
Could they make everything work out for their child?I don't have doubts that with their friends help they can find their way towards happiness.

I hope there is at least one more book in this series because the author piqued my curiousity with other characters' stories.



lunedì 25 giugno 2018

Ashes of the Sun by A. Meredith Walters


Release Date: 06.25.2018



Synopsis:

I was raised to believe in things you can't see.

It is the foundation of everything. I am taught to accept the unacceptable. To embrace the terrifying.

To give everything to my family.
To my church.
To my god.

Because I have a purpose. I have been trained for my calling for as long as I can remember. As an acolyte for the Gathering of the Sun, I am taught that my life isn't my own. I worship. I serve. And when the time comes, I will greet my fate with open arms and a sin free heart.

People call us a cult.

We are judged. We are ridiculed and reviled. Pastor Carter tells me they will be lost when the end comes. So we hide ourselves away from their sick and dangerous world. And my soul is safe because I follow the path.

I am the perfect disciple. I am confident in my devotion.

Until doubt arrives wearing the face of a boy I never expected to love.

Bastian doesn't follow the path. His destiny is his own. He paints me a picture of a beautiful world. His words contradict everything I have been told.

He invites me to live when I have been prepared to die.
He gives me something new to believe in.

Love becomes the ultimate crisis of faith and now I am torn between two futures. 
One that saves my soul.

And one that saves my heart.

Review:


This was a very good read. 
I don't look for these kind of plots really often but if an author I appreciate writes a story about a cult I'll absolutily want to read it.

A. Meredith Walters wonderfully told Sara and Bastian's story and even if most of the characters pissed me off I was intrigued and I couldn't turn the pages quick enough to find out how it woul have ended.

Sara lived at The Gathering of the Sun for ten year,she is Pastor's best disciple but her obedience isn't natural like for most of her "family" members.She is smart and strong and when Bastian comes to the compound she couldn't hold back her curiousity and her interest for him and his previous experiences.
Their lives couldn't be more different but something between them just clicks and their relationship will alter their paths for ever.

I recommend to read this book right now so you have some time to digest all the events before the next part comes out next month  (Don't worry for the cliffhanger because it is a mild one).




venerdì 22 giugno 2018

Cry Baby by Ginger Scott


Release Date: 06.22.2018



Synopsis:

Tristan Lopez is loyal to his brothers. He doesn’t really have a choice, born into a gang that has a chokehold on every kid that roams its streets. He gave his life to them willingly, knowing if he did then one day this kingdom, led by boys drunk with power and ruled by fear, would all be his. 

He was loyal through it all. Loyal when prison took his dad away. Loyal when his face was touched by the cold metal of the rival gang’s gun. Loyal even though his mom begged him to run the moment she returned home from rehab. 

He thought about becoming someone else. It was hard not to crave the life of a regular 17-year-old. It’s the only reason he stayed in school—to pretend. But he always fell back in line.

Loyal. 

Riley Rojas didn’t belong in Tristan’s real world. She should have only been part of the fantasy, one of the many faces he got to pretend with amidst rows of metal chairs and desks and whiteboards with assignments. But there she was, moving boxes from the back of an old pick-up into a house Tristan had shot up on a dare with his friends only a few months before. 

Tall enough to look him in the eyes and strong enough to fill his shadow, Riley took up space on his streets, her loud mouth fearless in the face of the gang leaders who terrified everyone else. She pushed Tristan around on the hard court, and she balled better than his friends—better than him sometimes. She challenged him. She needed him. He liked it. And when her pale blue eyes stared into his, he quit wanting to pretend. 

He couldn’t ask her to leave because she’d only dig her heels in deeper. He couldn’t ask because he didn’t want her to go. She was blurring his lines. She was testing his loyalty. 

He was falling in love. 

And it was going to tear him apart.


Review:


I’m broken...this is so real it hurts.

Riley is the new girl of the neighbourood, Tristan is the boy who can't run away from there.They become kinda friends,they kinda have feels for each other but they are on different paths and their futures can't be more divergent.
Could Riley's light bright Tristan's dark and hopeless life?

I usually don't read books about mafia or gangs because these subjects are too close to home for me. I don't appreciate the "romantic" view some authors show in their works but Ginger Scott has once again pleasantly surprised me with her realistic and honest writing.

This goes straight to my favorite books of 2018 list...do not miss it!


giovedì 14 giugno 2018

Like There's No Tomorrow by Linnea Valle


Release Date: 06.14.2018


Synopsis:

When it comes to tomorrow…there are no guarantees.

Emma, Eddie, and Zach. Best Friends. They were inseparable.
 U n t i l  t h e y  w e r e n ’ t. 

The three had grown up together, thick as thieves, friends until the end… well, with a minor exception. Emma had been in love with Zach for as long as she could remember. But it was one-sided. 
U n t i l  i t  w a s n ’ t. 

Then life changed. Emma started her first year of college and Zach and Eddie signed up to serve their country together, heading off to war. Life wasn’t quite fair. Emma’s hopes for a life between her and Zach dwindled with the distance and the passage of time. But there was still hope. 
U n t i l  t h e r e  w a s n ’ t. 

The unthinkable happened. After all… there was a war. And the three became two. Zach and Emma were left broken, crushed into a million pieces.

Would they be able to help each other put the pieces of their lives back together or would the pain and loss be too much to overcome?


Review:


This was a heartbreaking,deeply emotional read.

Emma and Eddie are twins,they have an incredible connection.When they are still young they add to their duo Zach, a nice kid who almost instantly becomes family.Their journey is not easy,full of hardles and heartbreaks but the love for each other will help them surviving whatever life throws at them.

The characters seemed so real that I felt like I was right there with them.I turned the page as fast as I could to see how it all would end.

Linnea Valle delivered a great debut novel,packed of love,growth and redemption.
I highly recommend to read Like There's No Tomorrow and to keep some tissues at hands.


lunedì 11 giugno 2018

Wild Card by Lila Monroe


Release Date: 06.11.2018


Synopsis:

Is there anything worse than playing maid-of-honor to your bitchy college nemesis? 
Try it when she’s marrying your DAD! Olivia Chambers doesn’t know what she’s done to deserve this karmic retribution, but she needs a date to the wedding from hell - and fast. She’s used to matchmaking billionaires, but now she needs a Prince Charming of her own. Someone handsome and famous enough to make bridezilla and her minions drool with envy… 

Someone like hottie ex-NFL star Ryan Callahan.

Ryan is looking for love. Well, the fake kind. He needs the perfect woman on his arm to woo investors for his superstar new business venture, but nobody is scoring that touchdown… until elegant, sophisticated Olivia comes to him with a proposition. She’ll play his perfect date - if he’ll play hers.

The deal is simple! Or is it? Take one week in the Florida Keys, a dose of sizzling sexual tension, a madcap wedding, and some seriously humid frizzy hair, and Ryan and Olivia have the recipe for disaster… or maybe the time of their lives.

But can Olivia let down her guard long enough to let Ryan sweep her off her feet? And will Ryan take his eyes off the (business) prize long enough to see what’s right in front of him?


Review:


Wild Card was so good I couldn't put it down.
Lila Monroe is my go-to author when I need a well written fun and slightly hot story.

Olivia is the owner of a dating agency,but her ladies have to only fake a ralationship with wealthy men who need a plus one to some events.Ryan is an ex football player in need of a beautiful and smart woman to woo some investors for his new business adventure.
They are are polar extremes,they met at Olivia's office and they make a professional arrangement,Olivia will take part to the business meetings with Ryan in exchange for a man candy to take to his father wedding.

I absolutely loved the main characters,their funny banters and their deep conversations.It was a pleasure to discover them,unveiling the many layers of their personalities,page after page.

I highly recommend to read it.

Excerpt:

When you’ve lived in New York as long as I have, you start to accept the fact that there are certain undeniable truths about life in this city.

1) Carrie Bradshaw never could have afforded that apartment on a journalist’s salary.

2) Unless your idea of Sunday Funday is a teary three p.m. orange-juice hangover, unlimited mimosa brunch is never a good idea.

And 3) this city—and, let’s face it, basically the whole world—is set up for couples. Everything is easier if you’re one half of a pair. Rent is cheaper. Battling the mobs at the grocery store on a weekend is less soul-crushing. And the odds of dying one of those grim, Daily News-type deaths where nobody knows you’re gone until the neighbors start to notice a funny smell from down the hallway? Way less likely when there’s someone around to catch the stench and stop kitty from eating your face.

Most of us try to find our other half the old-fashioned way: looking for true love. A partner to fill our lives with joy—or, at the very least, someone to slump in front of Netflix with on a Friday night and stop us from eating a whole block of cheese alone. (Not that I’ve done that. Not at all.) But what happens if that hasn’t worked out for you just yet, but you still need someone on your team?

Well, if you’re wealthy, and connected enough to know the number—you call me.

The Agency specializes in matchmaking . . . of the fake variety. I’m not aiming to find my clients true love (although, that seems to be a side benefit for a few of them these days), just
a true partner-in-crime. Need a fake fiancée to get your interfering relatives off your case? I’m your woman. Old-school workplace treating you like a brazen hussy because you’re not coupled up? I’ll find a partner for that work retreat that your boss will adore. I’m discreet, professional, and I have a knack for finding just the right match to get your through that tough spot. After all, everyone deserves someone to have their back, even the weirdos.

Especially the weirdos.

“So, I think I’ve got all the information I need,” I say now, smiling across my desk at today’s client. Jason is the newly-flush CEO of a tech startup that was just bought out by Google, and he needs a date to bring to a company-wide retreat in the Berkshires. Though most my clients are just too busy—or too famous—to find themselves the right date, with Jason I’m pretty sure it’s got more to do with his twenty-dollar haircut and his habit of peppering every conversation with arcane trivia from Star Trek. “I should be able to find someone with an advanced degree in a STEM field and an interest in . . .” I double-check my notes.

“Traditional Latvian folk music.”

“That’s great,” Jason says, smiling eagerly. He can’t be more than twenty-two, and the fact that he has no idea how to handle his newfound fortune is achingly obvious. At our very first meeting, he parked his brand-new Maserati in a tow zone in front of my office and had to take a cab all the way to Coney Island to get it back.

“In the meantime, I want you to go see my friend Lucas down at Bergdorf’s,” I tell him. There’s no way I’m about to send this guy out into the world in his Pac-Man T-shirt and Birkenstocks, no matter how rich he is. After all, I’ve got a reputation to protect. “And I’ve had my assistant Alice make you an appointment at a great salon.”

“Sounds good,” Jason says, nodding like a bobblehead. Then his face clouds. “There is one more thing I’m looking for in a date,” he says, suddenly nervous. “And I think it might be a little . . . unorthodox.”

“Oh?” I try to keep my face neutral. I have to explain to new clients, gently but firmly, that I’m not running that kind of agency. In fact, I have strict rules about romantic activities—they’re totally forbidden.

Jason takes a deep breath. “I’m looking for someone with experience as a Dungeon Master.”
Oh, yikes. “Unfortunately that’s not part of the suite of services we offer here,” I say carefully, “but I’d be happy to give you the card of an extremely discreet dominatrix who operates a private club on the Lower East Side, and I’m sure she’ll be able to—”

All at once Jason sits bolt upright in his chair. “Wait wait wait,” he interrupts, turning the color of a late-summer tomato. “A dominatrix? What are you talking about?”

I frown. “Isn’t that what you just—?”

“A Dungeon Master,” he says witheringly. “Like, for Dungeons and Dragons.”

“Oh. Oh!” I feel my face flush to match his. “Of course. I didn’t realize—”

“Jeez,” he interrupts, looking at me like possibly I’m the perv here. “What kind of operation are you running?”

I spend the next twenty minutes reassuring him that we’re on the up and up, then show him out and turn to my assistant, Alice, who’s sitting behind the reception desk typing away at her computer, her dark hair in a tidy Audrey Hepburn topknot at the crown of her head.

 “How was that?” she asks, raising her eyebrows.

“Oh, you know.” I stretch as Thor, our cranky ginger cat hops down off the filing cabinet and prowls across the Persian rug. I bend down to scratch him behind his mangy ears. “Just another day in the coal mines. You can knock off early,” I say, straightening up and smoothing my pencil skirt. “I’ve got a lunch across town, and then I’m just going to take the rest of the day.”

Alice tilts her head to the side. “Hot date?” she asks.

“I wish,” I say, plucking my jacket off the brass coat rack in the corner. “My dad’s in town.”

I’m running late, so I take a car across town to the Palace Hotel, where my dad likes to stay every time he’s in New York. My phone rings while we’re stopped in traffic, and I grimace when I see the caller ID.

“Hi, Ryan,” I say, hoping the eye-roll isn’t too obvious in my voice. Ryan Callahan is one of my most difficult, demanding clients. And not because he isn’t attractive. The polar opposite, actually. He was a star quarterback for a pro football team until an injury to his Achilles tendon cut his career short three years ago. Since then he’s had his hand in all kinds of different businesses—sports drinks, fitness apps, even a sneaker line—and his combination of brains and brawn should make him an easy match—if I was just looking for a real date. But the guy needs someone to help him schmooze with investors, and he’s ridiculously picky. He’s auditioned nearly my entire roster, but nobody is good enough. Ryan may be rich and handsome—OK, he’s hot as all get out, with the kind of broad, hard body you want to climb like a mountain—but he’s proving to be a Kilimanjaro-sized pain in my ass.

“Hey, Olivia,” he says, his easygoing voice hiding what I know is an iron will. “We need to talk.”

“Of course,” I reply. “I’m glad you called. Tell me more about why you didn’t like Amy?” And Tessa, and Claire, and Erin, I silently add.

“It’s not that I didn’t like her, exactly,” Ryan says as the car pulls up in front of the hotel. I scoot out of the backseat, smiling at the doorman as I slip through the revolving door and head for the lobby. The Palace is quintessential old New York, with marble floors and crystal chandeliers, the smell of lilies heavy in the air. “She was fine,” Ryan continues. “But I need the perfect wingwoman, you know? This investor meeting is a huge deal.”

“No, I know it is,” I promise, wanting to head him off at the pass before he launches into his pitch—again. He’s trying to raise capital to launch a chain of health food kiosks, and his potential investor is an old-school finance guy, so to make a good impression he needs someone smart and sophisticated. Which, for the record, all my girls are. But none of them have passed muster with Captain America over here. And the truth is I’m starting to run out of options.

“There’s a woman named Lauren I want you to meet,” I tell him now, climbing the wide carpeted steps that lead to the lobby. “She’s an executive assistant at a gallery downtown—very smart, very culturally savvy. I’ll have Alice make you a dinner reservation for this weekend.”

“If you say so,” Ryan says, sounding uncertain. “I just think . . .”

I lose the rest of his sentence in the loud buzzing that suddenly fills my ears as I turn the corner into the lobby—and catch sight of a familiar woman strolling across the plush oriental rug.

“Shit,” I blurt, stopping in my tracks and scooting behind a massive floral arrangement before she can see me. My heart jackhammers violently against my ribs as I peek out and check I wasn’t just hallucinating.

But nope. There she is. Vanessa Simpson, my psycho college roommate in the flesh. A lot of flesh. She’s sashaying through the lobby in a flimsy sundress with a Birkin bag slung over one arm.

Ryan breaks off. “Olivia?” he says. “Are you OK?”

“Um, yup,” I promise distractedly, darting behind a bellman pushing a loaded luggage cart across the lobby. “Completely. I’m listening.”

He keeps talking, but I peek through a couple of garment bags to watch Vanessa, who’s stalking across the lobby like she thinks it’s a runway. She was my roommate freshman year and made my life a living hell. There were the normal roommate annoyances, sure—the clothes-stealing, the messiness, the loud hookups so I had to sleep with earplugs and an eye mask in case she came stumbling back at two a.m. with a guy and stripped naked right up against the door. (Twice.)

And then there were the next-level stunts, the kind that took her from “selfish and spoiled” to “psycho in the making.” Like casually wiping my finals papers from my laptop because, whoops, she couldn’t figure out how to download the new Housewives episodes. Or the time I got a particularly gnarly zit on my lip and she told everyone on our floor I had mouth herpes. It took me a week to figure out why the RA kept offering to escort me to the health center.

If there was one silver lining to living with a raging She-Demon like Vanessa, it was her big brother Tristan, who was at school down at Princeton and took the train up to visit sometimes. He always invited me out to dinner with the two of them, asking me about my classes and what books I was reading. To say I had a crush on him was an understatement—the truth is, I would have hitchhiked to New Jersey in a pair of crotchless panties if he’d ever shown
one tiny glimmer of interest. As it was, I settled for stalking—ahem, scrutinizing every post he made on social media and dreaming up elaborate fantasies in which he rode up on a fiery steed—or a Toyota Corolla, whatever—and rescued me from undergraduate hell.

But that was then. The minute freshman year was over, I switched dorms and kept my distance from Vanessa. I haven’t seen either one of them since graduation, and I fully intend to keep it that way.

I skulk past the lobby and into an alcove, then drag my focus back to the conversation. Ryan is a big, important client, and I’m determined to find him someone who ticks all the boxes. “Ashley will be perfect,” I tell him. “I think you two will really hit it off.”

I hang up with Ryan and peek around the corner to check the lobby. All clear. Vanessa is mercifully gone—off to have her broomstick re-bristled, maybe, or to steal candy from a small child with a terminal illness. I let out a sigh of relief and head into the restaurant, where my dad is already seated at a table by the window, a glass of Basil Hayden on the rocks sweating in his hand.

“Hi, Dad,” I say, bending to kiss him on the cheek.

“Hiya, sweetheart.” My dad retired down to Key West a few years ago and spends his days relaxing on the beach and taking friends out on his fishing boat. But he’s still a Northeasterner at his core and he makes his way back like a homing pigeon every few months. “How you doing?”

I order a drink and we spend a few minutes catching up. “Should we order?” I ask finally, glancing down at the menu.

“In a minute,” my dad says. “First, I’ve got news.”

I raise my eyebrows, I can’t help it. Suddenly I know exactly where this is going. “Let me guess,” I deadpan. “You’re getting married again?”

My dad makes an exaggerated who, me? face. “Well, hell, Livvie,” he says, sounding a little hurt. “When you say it like that you make it sound as if I’ve got a new bride every week.”

Every couple of years, more like. My mom died when I was in high school, and ever since then my dad has gone through wives like other men go through undershirts. Whoever this woman is, she’ll be new stepmom #4. I try not to let it get to me—it’s his life, after all, and I want him to be happy, even if it does mean having to pretend to be interested in some daffy stranger’s rare doll collection just because she happens to be married to my dad.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I tease, “so you’re not getting married again?”

“Well, yes,” my dad admits sheepishly. Then he brightens. “But this one’s a winner. Really, Livvie, it’s someone I’m sure you’ll like.”

“Oh yeah?” I ask, taking a sip of my prosecco. “What’s she like?”

“You already know her,” my dad says, visibly pleased with himself. “In fact: you’ve lived together.”

“We’ve—wait, what?” I set my glass down on the table.

There’s a horrifying moment where I start to put two and two together, but it’s like I can’t force my brain to finish the thought before two hands with long pink nails like talons land on my shoulders.

“Surprise!”

I whirl around and there’s Vanessa suddenly looming over me like a Disney villain, as if she’d appeared in a puff of smoke. “Guess what, Livvie,” she trills, baring her teeth in a wide, white smile. “I’m going to be your new mom!”