Thursday, April 25, 2024

Library Loans - The Debut Edition

Say You'll Be Mine
by Naina Kumar

Published by Dell on January 16, 2024
Age/Genres: Adult Contemporary, Romance

In this utterly charming debut romance, a teacher with big dreams joins forces with a no-nonsense engineer to survive an ex's wedding and escape matchmaking pressure from their Indian families. Their plan? Faking an engagement, of course.

Meghna Raman’s parents wanted her to be an engineer, but instead she’s followed her passion, becoming a theater teacher and aspiring playwright. But when she discovers that her beloved writing partner, best friend, and secret crush, Seth, is suddenly engaged—and not to her—she realizes he’s about to become the one-that-got-away. Even worse, he’s asked her to be his best man. And worse than that, she’s agreed. Determined to try and move on and relieve a bit of the pressure she feels, Meghna agrees to let her parents introduce her to a potential match. Maybe she’ll even find the engineer her family wishes she became. . . .

Grumpy, handsome engineer Karthik Murthy has seen enough of his parents’ marriage to know that it isn’t for him. He only agreed to his mother’s matchmaking attempts to make her happy, never dreaming he would meet someone as vibrant as Meghna. Though he can’t offer her a real marriage, a fake engagement could help Meghna soothe the sting of planning Seth’s wedding festivities and Karthik avoid the absurd number of set-ups his mother has planned for the next year.

But as they find common ground, grow protective of one another’s hearts, and learn to fall for the flaws they thought they hated, an undeniable chemistry takes shape. Soon, Meghna and Karthik’s expectations and insecurities threaten to risk something that’s become a lot more real than they hoped.

Say You’ll Be Mine is a delightful trip back to the heyday of swoony romantic comedies from the nineties, but with a deep and poignant look at the effects of culture and family in our most intimate relationships.

Though Meghna's potential match wasn't open to marriage, Karthik was open to a fake engagement which would benefit them both.

There are so many things about this book that I think people will love. The fake fiancée, the exploration of familial pressure and expectations, and the infusion of Indian culture definitely rank high for me, but I was drawn to the core of this story - the romance between Meghna and Karthik.

This grumpy-sunshine pairing was a great one! Karthik was the grumpy, damaged hero who vowed to never marry, while Meghna was the sunshine heroine looking for a life partner while still kind of pining for her best friend. Things were a bit complicated, but it was obvious that these two had chemistry and had to constantly fight the attraction to each other.

I loved their dynamic and the way they played off one another. They could be a lot of fun to be around, but they were sweet to each other, too. They pushed each other to reach for the things that made them happy, and that support and encouragement really went a long way.

Great banter and lots of festivities kept things fun for me while I waited for these two to come to terms with their baggage and admit their mutual love and adoration. Here I found a slow burn romance that didn't frustrate me which I attribute to the fact that I could always tell they were moving in the right direction. There was on plot point that I thought took things a bit too far, but with everything else being as wonderful as it was, it didn't dampen my enjoyment.

Overall, this was a delightful fauxmance romance that had me laughing, smiling, and hoping for a real engagement.

How To Dance
 by Jason B. Dutton
Published by Alcove Press on February 6, 2024
Age/Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Opposites attract and sparks fly as a passionate dancer and a ladies’ man who's given up on love fall for each other—one tango at a time—in this charming debut romance perfect for fans of Talia Hibbert and Blair Fell.

Nick Freeman works hard as the star of the weekly karaoke night at his bar, hoping his singing talent, quick wit, and winning smile will distract from his cerebral palsy. But one night at the bar, watching a professional dancer light up the dance floor with her boyfriend, he realizes that entertaining strangers will never give him a fraction of the joy he sees in this woman’s eyes.

When Hayley Burke notices Nick’s reaction to her dancing, she urges him to acknowledge his passion and try a few moves himself—only to be mortified when she realizes Nick can only walk with the aid of a metal walker.

As Nick and Hayley fumble through misunderstanding into friendship, Hayley begins to enjoy Nick’s company more than that of her self-centered boyfriend. Nick tries to fight his attraction to Hayley, believing she deserves a dance partner who can move like her boyfriend does—but as Hayley and Nick continue to find their rhythm together, she shows him that “dancing” is about so much more than moving your feet.

In this fresh-voiced and utterly charming debut novel, Jason B. Dutton takes readers on a swoon-filled journey as two lost souls learn that neither physical disability nor emotional scars disqualify us from finding beauty, validation, and love amidst the chaos of being human.

How to Dance is billed as a romance, and there was definitely romance in the story, but I found the personal journeys of both Nick and Hayley to be way more satisfying.

Nick had to use mobility aids due to his cerebral palsy, and therefore, could never hide his disability. Though he was a well loved teacher and local karaoke star, he believed his CP hampered his dating life. Nick overcompensated for his insecurities with lots of bravado and sought one-night stands to try and fill that hole. That was until he saw Hayley dance.

Nick was captivated by Hayley's talent and the light she carried with her, but in reality, Hayley was struggling with her mental health. Her previous job with its constant competition, backstabbing, lack of support, and stress had her suffering from panic attacks. In an effort to heal, she relocated to Ohio for a fresh start. Everything was wearing her down and taking its toll on her and her relationship with her boyfriend, but then she met Nick.

Hayley and Nick formed a friendship built on mutual support. I really enjoyed their friendship and was happy to root for this couple. I KNOW you are thinking, "she had a boyfriend", BUT their union was not going well, so it was easy to see why Hayley was able to develop more-than-friendly-feelings for Nick.

Regardless, I did like them together. I also really appreciated Dutton's portrayal of Nick's disability. Getting to see Nick in many different situations and be in his head to get his perspective was eye opening. I don't want to leave out one of the sweetest parts of this book - ROSIE! Rosie was the daughter of Nick's two childhood friends (who were also awesome), and she was a precious gem, a total scene stealer who also stole my heart.

Overall, I enjoyed getting to know Nick and Hayley and was glad to cheer for them on their way to their HEA.

Goto karaoke song?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. There was a little pub that some work friends and I would frequent every Thursday for karaoke. One of our colleagues was a musical theater major, so we mostly went to see him sing. I'm much more comfortable behind a piano than I am in front of a mic!

    1. That sounds like fun! I never did karaoke outside of college parties, but I always wished I could play piano.

  2. Nick and Hayley's story sounds so touching!

    1. It was. I especially liked the way Nick's attitude changed.

  3. Wonderful reviews, Sam. These both sound really good. I don't think I have read a book where one of the MCs has cerebral palsy. It is great that authors are showcasing various disabilities and chronic illnesses in characters that lead a normal life. They need to be shown in such a light.

    1. I have not read an adult book with a character with CP but I have read YA books. This was own-voices, and the author presented an interesting perspective.

  4. I love fauxmance romance and I think you have a good one there Sam!