Love books to heat up your summer

Mister wrong number

Lynn Painter

Berkley, $16, 352 pages.

Mister wrong number is an entertaining romantic comedy with a heroine prone to great misadventures. Olivia Marshall has returned to Omaha from Chicago after being fired, dumped by her boyfriend, and then accidentally burning down her home and all her belongings. So she temporarily moves in with her brother – and his roommate Colin Beck, whom Olivia has loathed since overhearing him call her a “little nutcase” when she was 15.

Colin is even hotter now, she realizes when she sees him on her first morning there, hungover and disheveled. Her day doesn’t get any better as she starts her job hunt online and then stops by her parents’ house to pick up some of her old clothes as well as a lecture.

So when she receives a random text message during an ugly wine session asking what she’s wearing, she replies testily, “Your mom’s wedding dress and her favorite thong.”

She and Mr. Wrong Number engage in a witty back-and-forth and develop an anonymous friendship over texting.

Of course, the mystery man turns out to be Colin, who’s torn between continuing to text Miss Misdial or ghosting, especially as the attraction between him and Olivia is heating up IRL. But despite his misgivings, he continues his text conversations with Olivia, who is vulnerable and needs a friend, including an anonymous one.

Of course, we all know a traumatic revelation is about to happen (including Olivia’s less-than-honest offer to land her dream job). And despite the hilarious chaos that inevitably follows Olivia, the two begin to realize that their relationship could be true.

A brush made with love

By Mazey Eddings

St. Martin’s Griffin, $17, 331 pages.

The debut novel by Philadelphia dentist and neurodiverse author Mazey Eddings is a humorous and touching romance about Harper Horowitz, a student working to earn a residency in the top oral surgery program. She has terrible anxiety and deals with it by following a regular schedule and focusing on her studies.

But her life is literally turned upside down when she stumbles down the stairs and crashes into fellow student Daniel Craige. She is overwhelmed by her fall and by Daniel’s beauty. Daniel is fascinated and in love, and a friendship develops.

As they grow closer, the shy Harper just wants to remain friends despite being very attracted to him. She knows she will be leaving Philadelphia for her stay. And she’s also trying desperately to hide her overwhelming fear of him and her friends.

But eventually all the stress gets the better of Harper and things take a catastrophic turn. They work to get Harper to get her life back on track and Daniel to deal with his family issues. Spoiler alert: the climax scene just begs for a rom-com movie treatment.

Next thing you know

By Jessica Strawser

St. Martin’s Press, $28, 344 pages.

The love of my life

By Rosie Walsh

Pamela Dorman Books, $28, 380 pages.

Two new books deviate from the usual romance template – one was bittersweet and emotional, the other a mystery/thriller involving an already married couple.

Next thing you know follows Nova Huston, an end-of-life doula who helps terminal clients prepare for a “peaceful transition” on their own terms. Her new client is Mason Shaylor, a singer-songwriter in a deteriorating condition that now makes it impossible to perform his music.

Initially prickly and resistant to Nova’s attempts to learn about his life and illness, Mason and Nova eventually bond. Their bond soon deepens, but a shocking turn of events leads Nova to come under scrutiny over her relationship with a client, and Nova to start questioning herself. Strawser has written a poignant story of love, friendship and redemption.

I stayed up until dawn to get ready The love of my life, engrossed in the mystery of Leo and his wife Emma. Leo is an obituary writer for a London newspaper. Emma is a well-known marine biologist who is battling cancer. While they await the results of their recent chemotherapy treatment, Leo is tasked with writing a pre-op obituary for his wife. He agonizes over such a morbid duty, but he believes he knows Emma best and is best qualified to write her. He begins to write secretly so as not to burden his already stressed wife. However, he soon discovers things he never knew about her, leading him to realize that Emma was keeping some big secrets from him and he begins to delve into her past.

The story switches points of view, between present and past, and slowly uncovers all the devastating secrets Emma has been keeping. Walsh keeps building the tension, revealing more twists and turns in the story until a wonderfully satisfying resolution is reached.

With lovers resurrected (Gallery Books, $28), the latest in JR Ward’s paranormal series Black Dagger Brotherhood, we get the story of Balthazar, a newer member of the Brotherhood. But it’s the reappearance of an old foe and the heartbreaking sacrifice of a longtime fan favorite that leaves you stunned and an agonized wait for answers in the next book. It’s another exciting entry in the long-running series.

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