Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Release Day Review & Excerpt: My Roommate is a Vampire by Jenna Levine


About the Book

True love is at stake in this charming, debut romantic comedy.

Cassie Greenberg loves being an artist, but it’s a tough way to make a living. On the brink of eviction, she’s desperate when she finds a too-good-to-be-true apartment in a beautiful Chicago neighborhood. Cassie knows there has to be a catch—only someone with a secret to hide would rent out a room for that price.

Of course, her new roommate Frederick J. Fitzwilliam is far from normal. He sleeps all day, is out at night on business, and talks like he walked out of a regency-romance novel. He also leaves Cassie heart-melting notes around the apartment, cares about her art, and asks about her day. And he doesn’t look half bad shirtless, on the rare occasions they’re both home and awake. But when Cassie finds bags of blood in the fridge that definitely weren’t there earlier, Frederick has to come clean...

Cassie’s sexy new roommate is a vampire. And he has a proposition for her.

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MY ROOMMATE IS A VAMPIRE Excerpt

One

Roommate Wanted to Share Spacious Third-Floor Brownstone Apartment in Lincoln Park

Hello. I seek a roommate with whom to share my apartment. It is a spacious unit by modern standards with two large bedrooms, an open sitting area, and a semiprofessional eat-in kitchen. Large windows flank the eastern side of the apartment and provide a striking view of the lake. The unit is fully furnished in a tasteful, classical style. I am seldom home after sundown, so if you work a traditional schedule, you will usually have the apartment to yourself.

Rent: $200 per month. No pets, please. Kindly direct all serious inquiries to
fjfitzwilliam@gmail.com.

"There has to be something wrong with this place."

"Cassie, listen, this is a really good deal-"

"Forget it, Sam." That last part came out more forcefully than I'd intended-though not by much. Even though I needed his help, my embarrassment over being in this situation in the first place made accepting that help difficult. Sam meant well, but his insistence on involving himself in every part of my current situation was getting on my very last nerve.

To his credit, Sam-my oldest friend, who'd long ago acclimated to how snippy I sometimes got when I was stressed-said nothing. He simply folded his arms across his chest, waiting for me to be ready to say more.

I only needed a few moments to pull myself together and start feeling badly for snapping at him. "Sorry," I muttered under my breath. "I know you're only trying to help."

"It's all right," he said, sympathetic. "You have a lot going on. But it's okay to believe that things can get better."

I had no reason to believe that things could get better, but now wasn't the time to get into it. I simply sighed and turned my attention back to the Craigslist ad on my laptop.

"Anything that sounds too good to be true usually is."

Sam peered over my shoulder at my screen. "Not always. And you have to admit this apartment sounds great."

It did sound great. He was right about that. But . . .

"It's only two hundred a month, Sam."

***

I pulled up the listing on the computer. It hadn't changed in the time since I last saw it. The oddly formal style was the same. The absurd rent amount was also the same and set off as many alarm bells now as it did when I first saw it.

But my financial situation also hadn't changed. Jobs in my field were still as hard to come by. And asking Sam for help-or my accountant parents, who loved me too much to admit to my face what a disappointment I was-was just as unthinkable as ever.

And my landlord was still planning to evict me next week. Which, to be fair, I couldn't even blame him for. He'd put up with a lot of late rent payments and art-related welding mishaps these past ten months. If I were him I'd probably evict me, too.

Before I could talk myself out of doing it, and with Sam's worried voice ringing in my ears, I opened my email. I scrolled through my inbox-an ad for a two-for-one sale at Shoe Pavilion; a headline from the Chicago Tribune about a bizarre string of local blood bank break-ins-and then started typing.

From: Cassie Greenberg [csgreenberg@gmail.com]

To: fjfitzwilliam@gmail.com

Subject: Your apartment listing

I saw your ad on Craigslist looking for a roommate. My lease is up soon and your place sounds perfect. I'm a 32-year-old art teacher and have lived in Chicago for ten years. I'm a nonsmoker, no pets. You said in your ad that you aren't home much at night. As for me, I'm almost never home during the day, so this arrangement would work out well for both of us, I think.

I'm guessing you've gotten a lot of inquiries about your apartment given the location, price, and everything else. But just in case the room is still available, I've included a list of references. I hope to hear from you soon.

Cassie Greenberg

A pang of guilt shot through me over how much I'd fudged some of the important details.

For one thing, I'd just told this complete stranger that I was an art teacher. Technically, that was the truth. It's what I'd studied to be in college, and it isn't that I didn't want to teach. But in my junior year of college I fell in love with applied arts and design beyond all hope of reason, and then in my senior year I took a course where we studied Robert Rauschenberg and his method of combining paintings with sculpture work. And that was it for me. Immediately after graduation I threw myself into an MFA in applied arts and design.



Excerpted from My Roommate Is a Vampire by Jenna Levine Copyright © 2023 by Jenna Levine. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

 What I thought about My Roommate is a Vampire

In this debut from Jenna Levine, starting artist Cassie Greenberg needs a place to stay ASAP and she doesn't exactly have the money to rent. When she sees a room for rent for $200 she knows it's too good to be true, but she pursues it anyway. 

When she meets the rental owner, Frederick Fitzwilliam isn't exactly like the other adults she knows. He's a bit out of touch with the times, and it's true he isn't around much, but she finds out why when she discovers a bag of blood in the fridge.  Ruh Roh. That is a bit of a problem for Cassie in the beginning.

This is a cute little fish out of water story with Frederick really not assimilating this century well.  So Cassie is going to help him and in the process of teaching him how to live in the real world, she also develops feelings toward Frederick.  There's some very cute stuff in the notes they send to each other and that was a lot of fun.

This is a light-hearted, slow burn paranormal romantic comedy.  I liked that it kept things light, since sometimes paranormal romance can get a bit dark.  There was a bit of a slow start, then things picked up and seemed to end too quickly.

I need to mention that there is a great supporting character in Reginald and I liked his page time very much. The story is told from Cassie's point of view, and it might have been nice to hear more from some of the other characters so that the reader can better connect with them.

Overall, this was a nice debut. Will be looking for future titles from this author. 


About the Author



Berkley Romance (TR)

By day, Jenna Levine works to increase access to affordable housing in the American South. By night, she writes romance novels where ridiculous things happen to beautiful people. When Jenna isn't writing she can usually be found crying over k-dramas, starting knitting projects she won't finish, or spending time with her family and small army of cats.

 https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/authors/2280309/jenna-levine

Release Day Review & Excerpt: The Love Plot by Samantha Young

About the Book

There’s a magnetic attraction when a happy-go-lucky gig worker agrees to a fake relationship with a rich, uptight New Yorker in this steamy romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Samantha Young.

Star Shine Meadows is all about freedom, thanks to the hippie parents who raised her. Juggling her jobs as a professional costume character actor and a line sitter, she believes in no expectations, no stressful ambitions, and no-strings-attached relationships. So when she meets a birthday girl’s grumpy uncle while working a princess party, she can’t help but needle him. She’ll never see him again, and honestly, he's pretty hot.

Rafe Whitman may be a veterinarian with a great bedside manner, but that doesn’t mean his patience extends to anyone with opposable thumbs. His family will not stop nagging him about finding “the one,” so when he runs into obnoxiously cheery Star again, he makes her an offer: He’ll pay her more than she would make doing her odd jobs if she’ll pretend to be his girlfriend at family gatherings. She can stop sitting in line waiting for someone else’s new phone, and he’ll get his family off his back.

When the tension between them heats to a breaking point, Star’s desire for "no strings" is tested against Rafe’s staunch stability. They say opposites attract, after all....

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Excerpt

I was shocked to find Rafe striding determinedly in my direction again. His broody face was more brooding than usual, so I braced myself.

Rafe Whitman drew to a stop before me and blurted out, “You’ll literally do anything for money?”

Anger flared in an instant from the tips of my toes to the ends of my hair, so I didn’t hear the tone in which the question was asked. I threw back my shoulders. Taller than average height at five-seven, I was still a good seven or eight inches shorter than this arrogant Manhattanite, but I was prepared to take him. Anyone who knew me knew I was a patient, laid-back kind of person . . . but Rafferty Whitman had crossed the line!

“What the hell does that mean?” I seethed. “Are you suggesting I charge money for sex?”

Rafe’s blue eyes flashed with indignation. “No, I am not,” he hissed at me, eyes darting around. “And lower your voice.”

“I will not lower my voice.” I crossed my arms over my chest. “I like most people, but you sure do make it difficult, Whitman. It’s like you get off on being as insulting as possible.”

He mirrored me, crossing his arms over his chest. “I’m not insulting you. If you’d paid attention, you’d realize the question was not meant to be untoward.”

“Untoward?” I grimaced. “What, are you from the nineteenth century? Is that why you hate phones? Because if the technology is difficult for you to grasp, I can teach you how to use a phone.” I was being a little shit now, but he brought it out in a person.

Rafe sneered. “How much will that cost me?”

Argghhh! I narrowed my eyes but smiled. “Oh, for you . . . twice as much as I’d charge anyone else.”

“I see. Well.” Rafe uncrossed his arms to reach into his back pocket. He removed his wallet and then a business card from that. Holding it out to me, he continued, “I guess you stand to make a lot of money for doing very little. If you’re interested, call me.”

Flummoxed, I took the card. “Um . . . doing what?”

But he was already walking away.

“Doing what, Whitman?” I yelled after him.

He didn’t answer, just casually strolled off. His suit pants molded perfectly to his sculpted ass. So unfairly physically perfect.

“Are you going to call him?”

I looked up from the business card that read Whitman Veterinary Clinic, Dr. Rafferty Whitman.

His vet clinic was on the busy, tree-lined Columbus Avenue. Nice location, Dr. Rafe.

There was his phone number right beneath the address.

Yvonne grinned at me, and I answered her question. “Nah.”

Her eyes bugged out of her head as her friends gaped at me in shock. “Uh, Clark Kent just asked you to call him, Star. You don’t turn down Clark Kent.”

“You do if he’s an asshole. Life lesson, girls: an attractive face should not sway you if a pompous, arrogant, insulting, offensive turd lurks behind it.”

Yvonne chuckled. “You did yell at him and try to embarrass him with the peanut butter and jelly stuff. That’s not true, is it?”

I rolled my eyes. “No, it’s not true.” But she was right. I had antagonized him.

“You should make it true. I’d roll in a bathtub of jelly with that man.”

Slipping the card into my purse, I shrugged. “Impossible. His ego would take up the whole tub. No room for jelly. Or me—I mean you.”

“You’re not the least bit curious to find out what he wants to pay you to do?”

“Considering how that sounds, nope. Not at all. Ooh, look, the line is moving. Yay.”

But as the girls turned to move with the line, I knew I was lying.

I was so curious, my heart still raced from my encounter with Rafe.

What I thought about The Love Plot

 In this standalone contemporary romance from Samantha Young, grumpy meets sunshine when two people strike a deal to help each other out. Star Shine Meadows (omg, what a name) is a free spirit, dressing in costume for a child's birthday party when she meets Rafe Whitman.  Rafe is the total opposite of Star, so of course you know there's going to be some sparks there, even if they aren't the good ones to start.

Well, the sparks turn into a deal where Rafe and Star will "fake date" to keep Rafe's family from pestering him.  Only you know how it's going to go -- Rafe and Star actually develop feelings for each other, but since their time started as a business deal it's going to take some open and honest communication to take things to a more personal relationship place.

This was a pleasant rom com type of story based on opposites attract.  There are plenty of awkward family situations as it is easy to see why Rafe needed a fake date in the first place.  There's the usual conflict here from miscommunications -- Star thinks Rafe isn't as interested as he really is -- and Rafe becomes very possessive (over-protective?) with Star.  But I personally had to draw the line when the family suggested Star change her name. Who does that?

So overall, a pleasant romance with a slightly frustrating hero and a heroine who will teach him a few things.  This is a quick, satisfying read with low conflict that is easily resolved with a heartfelt conversation. 

 

About the Author


Photo: © Mark Archibald

Samantha Young is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the On Dublin Street series, including Moonlight on Nightingale WayEchoes of Scotland Street, and Fall from India Place, and the Hart's Boardwalk series, including Every Little Thing and The One Real Thing, as well as the standalone novels Fight or Flight and Much Ado About You.
 

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/authors/226553/samantha-young/  

https://authorsamanthayoung.com/

 

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