Recent outstanding fall romances feature a funny fake relationship, second chances at love, and an action-packed thriller.
‘The Love Hypothesis,’ by Ali Hazelwood
The Love Hypothesis is endearing and funny, and hits two catnip tropes for me: a fake relationship and the transformation of a grouch.
In a moment of panic, Olive Smith, a brilliant Ph.D. candidate in Stanford’s biology department, grabs and kisses the first man she sees in a desperate attempt to fool her best friend Anh, who’s convinced Olive has feelings for a fellow graduate student that Anh likes. While her friend may have seen her kissing her “new man,” that man happens to be Adam Carlsen, the terror of the department.
Once the rumor that they are dating spreads across campus, Olive and Adam keep up the charade: Olive wants to be sure her BFF settles into a relationship with her crush, and Adam wants to ease administrators’ fears that he is leaving for another school. But what started as a fake relationship between the two scientists soon turns into more as Olive finds herself falling in love with the hot professor. With all the lies she has been telling, how can she know if what is growing between her and Adam is true?
Hazelwood, who has a doctorate in neuroscience, puts her own knowledge about academia into her charming debut novel. (Berkley, $16, 383 pages)
‘The Shaadi Set-Up,’ by Lillie Vale
Two recent books feature similar story lines about rekindled love.
In The Shaadi Set-Up, Rita Chitniss has moved on after getting her heart broken by her high school sweetheart six years ago. She has a new boyfriend and is building a career in interior design and furniture restoration. But she is shocked when she visits her parents to find her former love, Milan Rao, at the door. Milan is a real estate sales star who has been having trouble selling a house, and it seems her parents decided that he could use Rita’s expertise decorating and staging the house. She reluctantly agrees to help.
Annoyed that her parents are trying to rekindle something between her and Milan, and eager to prove that she is definitely over him, Rita hatches a plan. She and her boyfriend will rig their answers on the Desi matchmaking website MyShaadi.com so that they will be a perfect match, even though she has no interest in marrying him.
Only the plan fails when the site finds that Rita’s perfect match is Milan. And as they work together more closely, she realizes the attraction still sings between them.
But can she get over the devastation that he caused her? Can their new bond survive their meddlesome parents and a hilariously salty grandmother? The two will need to correct their past mistakes in order to get a second chance at love.
The Shaadi Set-Up is the debut adult romantic comedy for Vale, who was born in Mumbai. She was previously known for young-adult novels. (Putnam, $16, 365 pages)
‘A Lot Like Adiós,’ by Alexis Daria
In A Lot Like Adiós, Gabriel Aguilar is a successful co-owner of a celebrity gym in Los Angeles that is about to open a second location in New York. His partner has contacted someone there to head the marketing campaign and help scout new locations. Gabriel is stunned to discover that person is Michelle Amato, his former childhood best friend. Gabe and Michelle lived next door in the Bronx and were inseparable until 18, when they had a bad falling out, and Gabe left to go to college in California. They haven’t spoken since, but both recall the attraction that grew between them as teenagers and always wondered “what if?”
Michelle was hurt when Gabe left and he never responded to her emails. But she wants closure, so she agrees to work with Gabe on one condition — that he stay with her while he’s in New York.
When they finally meet again after so many years, their attraction is immediate, and they warily reconnect. Gabe wants to keep his presence back in New York a secret, but both families find out. As the feelings grow alongside the expectations of their relatives, Michelle has to decide whether she is willing to risk her heart again. Gabe needs to decide if he will stay or run away a second time. In the process, they discover more about themselves and what they want out of life. (Avon, $16, 416 pages)
‘Uncharted,’ by Adriana Anders
Adriana Anders’ latest in the Survival Instincts series continues the mystery surrounding a deadly virus and the shadowy Chronos Corp., which will stop at nothing to acquire it. The first in the suspenseful series, Whiteout, took place at a research center in Antarctica, and Uncharted continues the frosty action in Alaska. Pilot Leo Eddowes and her team have traveled to a tiny village in search of scientist Campbell Turner and a sample of the virus he stole, desperately trying to get to him before Chronos’ people do. Leo is recuperating from food poisoning and the rest of her team goes on ahead when a local woman comes to tell her that the man they are looking for is her godson. The woman tells Leo to take her old plane because Chronos’ men are coming. With big helicopters on her tail, shooting at the small plane, Leo barely makes it through a narrow opening between cliffs before the damaged aircraft crashes onto a frozen lake.
A man sees the aerial chase and Leo’s crash; not knowing if she is friend or foe, he pulls out the injured Leo before the plane sinks through the cracked ice. And thus begins another action-packed adventure featuring a capable, strong heroine and the hero with whom she teams up to survive dangerous foes in an even more dangerous environment.
Leo realizes he cannot be Campbell since he is much younger and bigger, but he won’t immediately reveal who he is. It turns out that he is Elias Thorne, and has been living in a remote cabin for years, hiding a secret of his own. Filled with suspicion, the pair have to form a wary alliance to escape Chronos’ men, who are now on foot and searching for them. As they go deeper into the frozen wilderness, trust and then attraction develop between the pair, who must rely on each other to survive. (Sourcebooks Casablanca, $9, 384 pages)
‘Foolish Hearts,’ by Synithia Williams
Foolish Hearts is book four in Synithia Williams’ Jackson Falls series, which revolves around the wealthy Southern Robidoux family. Full of drama among the beautiful and powerful, the series would make a fabulous soap opera.
Ashiya Waters runs a successful consignment store. Her mother is a Robidoux, but Ashiya never wanted to get involved in the infighting for control of Robidoux Holdings.
Her life is upended when she learns her paternal grandmother, who had disowned Ashiya’s father, dies and unexpectedly leaves everything to Ashiya, including controlling shares in that family’s company, the Legacy Group.
Ashiya enlists the aid of her cousin Elaina (subject of the third book in the series, Careless Whispers), to give her some pointers on how to run a multimillion-dollar corporation. But instead, Elaina sends Russell Gilchrist to help, much to Ashiya’s dismay.
She and Russell had once dated seriously, but she broke his heart when she decided to give her ex one more chance. Ashiya soon discovered the ex’s infidelity, but it was too late to reconcile with Russell.
As they work together while she takes the helm of the Legacy Group and they search for the source of embezzlement, she hopes to show him that she deserves another chance. (HQN Books, $10, 237 pages)