October 2022 New Releases To Add To Your TBR
Hello everyone! How are you all doing? I've decided since it's my first month back to blogging that I wanted to take some time to feature new releases. I'd fallen so behind on bookish news and a lot of the amazing series published this year due to my lack of engagement. I thought that coming back with blog posts to talk about new releases would help spread the news about some amazing sounding books and, in full disclosure, help me keep track too.
While I still have so many books on my tbr backlog, I want to in some ways start fresh with reading this year with new releases that excite me. I want to dive back into the world of electric anticipation for upcoming books that are only now getting sent out into the world. I miss wading into the waters of fiction when everyone else is still chatting and discussing the same reads. It truly reminds me that the bookish community is still thriving and ready to be eagerly rejoined
Are there any October new releases you've added to your tar recently?
Disclaimer: This blog post will contain affiliate and referral links. I may earn a small commission to feed my book hoarding tendencies if you use these links to make a purchase. This in no way impacts my opinions of the books listed - they are all my own.
Ace of Hearts
By Lucy Mason
Description: Hesper Stallides and Felix Morlan have been best friends for as long as they can remember, bonding over their troubled home lives. When a horrible sports injury derails Felix’s promising career and results in the loss of his scholarship, Hesper offers a proposition: a year-long marriage of convenience so he can get free tuition at the college where she works.
It isn’t supposed to be complicated...until they fall in love for real. When Hesper reveals that she’s asexual, Felix must reassess everything he thinks about love, and ask himself what he’s willing to sacrifice for a future with Hesper—before the past she’s spent her life running from can take her away from him forever.
Trigger Warnings: Abuse of an adult child by a parent, stalking/harassment, kidnapping, references to alcohol abuse, vomiting.
About The Book
As someone who is constantly plugged into the bookish community on a few platforms, I often find new recommendations from a variety of sources. This includes Twitter where I stumbled across a Tweet announcing the release of Ace of Hearts by Lucy Mason. I can't say that book promotions always stop me in my tracks, because if they did I'd never do anything else given how many I pass in a day.
But the Tweet from the author, Lucy Mason, did give me a moment to pause. Whether for the asexual representation that isn't present enough in media, the snappy nature of the book description, or the well-done cover.
Once I did some investigating, I discovered that Ace of Hearts is a contemporary romance that came out on October 4, 2022. It's an ownvoices book by an author who also identifies as asexual like the main character, Hesper. The tropes I, and many other bookworms, love are described as present such as: best friends to lovers, marriage of convenience, and fake relationship to real feelings. The first being my personal favorite.
You can check out a first chapter preview below.
Chapter One Excerpt
Hesper It was not my Felix Morlan lying in the hospital bed, tangled in the sterile white sheets. He was the bravest, funniest, most cheerful man I knew, strong enough to make up for it when his friends were weak, and this wasn’t him. I brushed his dark hair away from his forehead, which was glistening with sweat, pain hazing over his eyes. “Sorry I scared you, Hes.” His voice cracked, and I handed him a Styrofoam cup filled with cold water and ice chips. “I’m just glad you’re…” Okay? Of course he wasn’t okay. One of his teammates had shown me a replay of the hit that had hyperextended his knee and destroyed his ACL. It had been on mute, and Felix was wearing a helmet that obscured part of his face, but the contorted expression of agony was seared into my memory. He may or may not have blacked out from the pain; I wasn’t sure because I quit watching, unable to stomach it. “Want me to call the nurse?” I asked tentatively. He turned his head away, but not before I caught the shine of tears gathering in his eyes. His leg was wrapped heavily in dressings, but I’d seen it when he came out of surgery, exhausted but too frightened to sleep while I waited. The skin around his knee was swollen, an angry red color where staples held the surgical wounds closed. I’d sat by his bed, sketching on the small pad I kept in Calamity, my old Jeep, while he slept off the anesthesia. But he was awake now, and he twisted his calloused hands in the sheets. “They’ll be keeping me for observation for a few days. Go home and get some rest.” “Nope.” “Some of the guys from the team will stop by and—” “Nope,” I reiterated firmly, crossing my arms. It was a policy we’d had with each other our whole lives, and it didn’t change even when we’d moved halfway across the country together for college: we had nobody else here, but we had each other. He’d watched my back, and I would watch his. Felix and I had been best friends since we were old enough to walk and talk. Now, his mom was in jail while his dad was busy raising his six younger siblings, and I had run away from Missouri to avoid getting an order of protection against my own father. We’d basically raised each other. I wasn’t running away at the first sign of trouble.
“Show me.” He held out one hand for my sketch pad and I clutched it to my chest. “Come on.” Normally this was fine. I’d draw tables covered in leaves, teacups and books and pocket watches and chunks of amethyst and rusty old keys, the kind of things I found aesthetically soothing. But I’d been doing something different while he slept, trying to erase the memory of his pain in the video replay of his injury. I’d drawn the slightly blocky angle of his jaw, his mouth turned up in half a smile, a five-o’clock shadow dusting the sides of his face. I’d drawn him happy, my best copy of the way he looked in my favorite memory of him. I contemplated crumpling the page before he could see it. Instead, I flipped back to an earlier page where I’d been doing a study of the trees outside his hospital window, light filtering through them in an orange haze as the sun rose. I hadn’t been able to quite capture it with the small bag of pencils I had on hand, but it was enough that he got the idea. “Remind me again why you aren’t going into this?” He sounded clearer than he had in several hours, his eyes focused on my sketch pad. It was an uncomfortable feeling, to see someone marvel at my work. Like being under a microscope. “No steady paycheck,” I reminded him, counting the reasons I’d rehearsed to people a hundred thousand times off on my fingers. “Deadlines would push me to create when I didn’t feel like it. I would grow to hate it if I had to do it for a living. The pressure would be too intense.” I didn’t list the other reason. Sometimes it took every ounce of energy I possessed just to get up in the morning. Sometimes I simply didn’t have enough inside me to both function and create. Art was my escape. If I turned it into another source of stress, where would I hide when the rest of the world got to be too much? What would I do to restore the balance? “Those are all good reasons,” he agreed begrudgingly, and he reached back over to hand the pad back to me, twisting slightly to do so. He didn’t say a word but the set of his mouth and eyebrows told me he’d moved wrong, in a way that would have left him screaming if he hadn’t been so heavily medicated. My chest hurt, my lungs burning because I just couldn’t get enough oxygen in, because I couldn’t breathe looking at the way my best friend suffered. This was the sort of thing you read about in the paper or heard about on the news. It happened to other people, sure. But it wasn’t supposed to happen to Felix. Despite the chill outside, Calamity’s seats were sticky with heat from the afternoon sun when I left the hospital, and I wiggled my phone charger in the adapter, praying it would connect. I ran the battery down the night before, frantically making calls to find out what had happened and where Felix was, and I’d sent one semi-panicked email to my boss explaining I wouldn’t be in today, but I wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of messages when the screen lit back up. I scrolled through them, my stomach clenching as I read increasingly worried and annoyed messages. I closed out of the message app and pulled up the internet browser. It was like worrying at a sore tooth: even though I knew it would be awful, I had to look. I had to know what Felix was going back to. The answer, it seemed, was not much. There was already an online article plastered on the local news channel’s website: Mustangs Star Athlete Suffers Career-Ending Injury During Championship Game. I cringed but kept reading. There were pictures. There was speculation on whether the opposing team had intentionally caused the injury. It had happened in the third quarter, and rather than stopping the game, they put in a backup player and went on to narrowly win. It even ended on a celebratory note, advertising the time and date of the next playoff game, like Felix’s whole world hadn’t just changed. I scrolled back up to the top of the page. Career-ending. Career-ending. Oh, God. My phone started to ring, and I shoved it under the jacket in the passenger seat, counting my breaths and turning the key as the Jeep roared to life, sputtering a little sadly. Emails were fine, text messages were even better, but phone calls hit me funny sometimes, and after the nightmare of the last twenty-four hours I couldn’t bear the thought of talking—or trying to hear—on a cell phone. I rolled the windows down and turned up the music and let the wind dry the tears from my face. Art was my refuge, but solo driving time was my freedom. Zzzzt. Zzzzzt, zzzzzt. I slammed the radio’s off button. Gravel popped as I turned Calamity’s wheel sharply, pulling off onto the shoulder because whoever was calling wouldn’t stop. Felix’s phone was still in the locker room. What if it was his dad calling? What if someone back home had heard? What if it was a nurse calling saying something has gone horribly wrong, come back immediately? What if he needed me? What if, what if, what if? As soon as I accepted the call, I regretted it. My boss was the father figure I never had, and he worried about me like I was his own daughter. Which was great, until it wasn’t. “Hesper Elise Stalides, you could have been dead in a ditch and I wouldn’t have known!” I flinched. “Sorry, Zach.” His voice softened marginally—he knew about my phone anxiety. He spoke slowly and clearly, not in a condescending way, but enough that I didn’t have to ask him to repeat himself. “I got your message that you were on your way to see your friend and you wouldn’t be in today. How is he?” I squeezed my eyes shut, and the hand that wasn’t holding the phone to my ear spasmed against the steering wheel, turning my knuckles ashy white. “Oh, he’ll recover. Eventually. But I don’t think he’ll ever play football again.” Saying it out loud made it seem real. I couldn’t imagine Felix without sports. He had initially pursued it because he knew it was the only way he could ever afford college—I felt so betrayed when he chose athletic extracurriculars over art and band with me—but it had turned into a genuine fire and passion for him. It was his thing. And now it was gone. “I’m sorry to hear that. Are you on your way home?” “Yeah.” “Do me a favor and let me know when you get there safe.” “I will. Thanks for understanding.” Zach hung up without saying goodbye, because goodbye was simply not a thing he did. He had told me once his grandpa would say “uh-huh” before hanging up but said any kind of farewell had too much finality. This old superstition had carried over the generations of their family. It was just a fact that my boss hung up on me every single time he called. “There,” I said out loud to the empty, silent car. "I answered the phone and it wasn’t that bad. Stop being such a drama queen about it.” But it didn’t feel like I was being dramatic. Talking on the phone made it feel like all the air had left my lungs, and I was suffocating, and my brain couldn’t process the words the person on the other end was saying, and then I had to ask them to repeat themselves, and they said it again, but I still couldn’t understand and they were starting to get annoyed and— Stop. Now is not the time for an anxiety spiral. Pull it together. Windows down. Music up. I picked up my phone and texted Zach. 4:39 PM I’ll get back in 40 mins. Meet at Cass’s for dinner? I didn’t receive an answer, because he wasn’t a texting sort of man. He regularly sent me messages that said brb—as if I’d notice he was leaving his phone for a minute when we were miles apart. All the same, when I got back to town he was there at our usual table, his glasses low on his nose and thick eyebrows creased downward, tapping a pen (the audacity! A permanent ink pen!) on the sudoku puzzle in the newspaper on the table. I dropped my messenger bag and collapsed in the seat across from him. I was too tired, as if I’d run a marathon instead of sitting at my best friend’s bedside all night. “You look rough.” “Thanks, Zach, that’s sweet.” He glared at me over his glasses. “Next time let me know you made it safe, okay?” “Hopefully there won’t be a next time.” “So, what’s your friend gonna do?” I put my face in my hands. “Beats me. He’s gonna be so lost without football, and that scholarship was all he had. I mean, he has a work-study job with the college’s maintenance department, but…” I slid my phone across the table, the article pulled up on the browser. Zach cringed with every new detail he read. “Maybe they’ll let him finish out his degree,” he said doubtfully. My phone buzzed in his hands. “‘Hey, H. Jackson brought my phone. Text when you can.’ Is this the guy?” I snatched my phone back. Adults didn’t understand what an invasion of privacy it was when they read your text messages. Despite the fact that I was twenty-one, almost twenty-two, I still thought of everyone else as a grown-up and myself as just…not. I’m an adult! I am a grown-up! I pay bills and have a job! But it was like there was some secret rite of passage to figuring out life as a grown-up, and nobody had let me in on it, so I was stuck in limbo forever. “You’ve heard me talk about him before. We grew up together, moved out here together.” “H?” His sizable eyebrows disappeared under his bangs. “Yes! H, Hes, Hesper. I answer to any. This is not a surprise; you’ve known me for three years.” “And he spells out all the words like you do.” “Yes, like a civilized human who doesn’t think it’s too much extra effort to put the Y and the O before the U to spell you.” I stared pointedly at him, but as usual, my criticism didn’t faze him. I hated text speak. The server, a cute blonde girl with a mean streak for most people but a soft spot for her regular customers, brought me a glass of sweet tea, ice cubes clinking merrily. “With sugar.” Zach shuddered. “Appalling.” While technically I was from the Midwest, we were very southern in how we took our tea. I liked it as sweet as hummingbird water; my “bless your heart” was almost always a passive-aggressive dig; I knew how to square-dance (badly), thanks to high school PE classes. You can take the girl out of Missouri, but you can’t take Missouri out of the girl. Zach caught me up on all the library drama of the day while I made appropriate noises of rage (a student was caught eating with greasy potato chip fingers while they were handling an expensive book) and disgust (another student brought back DVDs covered in a questionable, sticky, yellow substance of unknown origin.) He had a strict no-phones-during-dinner policy, but I surreptitiously tapped out messages to Felix on my lap. If he saw me, he decided to let it slide given the circumstances, because he cheerfully chattered while we ate. 6:02 PM I’m home. Ish. 6:02 PM I’m in the hospital. Ish. 6:04 PM Zach freaked, y/y?
Zach only knew about Felix in passing, but Felix knew all about Zach, because I told him everything—well, most things—for almost forever. I mean, the boy taught me to tie my shoes; I spent summers showing his little sisters how to swim; he didn’t abandon me even when we went to prom and I spent most of the night in the bathroom, shaking with my skirt bundled up in my arms and sucking in oxygen like it was running out. When he missed being crowned king because he was comforting me, he wasn’t even mad, though I was mad enough at myself for both of us. 6:07 PM You could say that. Need anything? 6:08 PM A burger. A milkshake. Anything but Jell-O and tasteless hospital cafeteria mashed potatoes. 6:08 PM Seriously though. Get some rest. He was worried about me—while he was laid up in a hospital bed with a shattered career and a decimated tendon and a boatload of pain. I had won the best-friend lottery. I didn’t deserve him. Zach and I played rock-paper-scissors, our tradition for deciding who would pay, and though I could usually see his tells, he beat me fair and square. The server zipped his card through the register’s reader, then handed it back to him along with an adding machine tape of the charges. “You okay to drive home?” “Yes, Zach.” “You won’t fall asleep?” “No, Zach.” “You stayed up all night with your friend.” I pinched the bridge of my nose, exhaling. My neck hurt and I was exhausted and everything was falling apart at the seams, but I smiled my most convincing smile. “I promise I’ll be okay. And I’ll let you know when I’m home.” “You better. See you at work Monday?” “Nine sharp.” He saluted and lumbered off. He folded his six-foot-something frame into the tiny, banana-yellow car he had parallel parked by the side of the cafe. No matter how many times I watched him do it, the hilarity never wore off. I walked farther down the street to the parking lot, because I had passed my driving test but parking on the street seemed like more risk than I could afford to take. Calamity turned over once, twice, and finally roared to life. I patted the dashboard fondly. She was like me in a lot of ways: a quirky mess, a work in progress, broken but still worth keeping around. The drive across campus was short. My house was tall but had the smallest footprint on the block—an old but cozy home with faded blue siding and a tiny porch with gingerbread detailing I repainted white every summer. A little flag saluted me—there were bills in the mailbox, because there were always bills. That was one part of adulthood that hadn’t skipped out on me. Phone bill. Light bill. Water bill. Political pamphlet. Coupons for a clothing store I seldom frequented because I hated shopping, but they had a nice pair of pants once. At the bottom of the pile, a hand-addressed envelope with handwriting I had hoped to never see again. The response was instinctive and instantaneous—my stomach lurched, and I hurled the envelope as hard as I could away from me, like somehow by being farther away it could hurt me less. It fluttered ineffectually to the floor. It was so difficult to read I was surprised the post office had been able to deliver it. The pen had been pressed so hard into the paper it looked embossed. In the bottom right was the address, my address, that I had guarded so carefully. Seeing it written in that almost-illegible scrawl made me feel like climbing out of my own skin. I hated it. In the upper left was my father’s address. I was loath to touch it again, but I retrieved it from the old tan tile of the kitchen floor and sat at the table with it. I wanted to shred it, burn it, like destroying it would banish the overwhelming fear and dread that had seized me. RETURN TO SENDER. I put the words on it as big and bold as I could, then went back out into the dark October night and replaced it in the mailbox, raising the little flag so they would take it away the next morning. I trudged back inside, up the stairs, and threw myself down on my bed. The streetlights filtered in through the sheer navy curtains dotted with little silver stars. On my ceiling overhead, glowing stars and planets and comets shone faintly green in the darkness. I was tired. I wanted to sleep. I needed to sleep. But I had reached that strung-out place of exhaustion where everything seemed a step removed, like I was watching the world through an external lens, and the sounds of my house were too loud and I longed for the soothing scent of my paints, which always reminded me strongly of tea leaves. Instead, I peeled off my hoodie and jeans stained with Alizarin Red and Phthalo Green oils and put on my most comfortable flannel pajamas, then rolled myself up in my blankets like a giant Hesper burrito. But the weight of the thing in the mailbox pressed down on me, my breaths coming in jerky gasps too short for sleep. Somehow, despite my best attempts at invisibility, I had been found. This meant, of course, it was only a matter of time before he showed up on my doorstep to terrorize me in person. 1:34 AM How much does a pirate pay for corn? Oh my God. There was no way he could know I was awake fending off a panic attack, but there he was, with his stupid jokes. 1:34 AM Felix it is too late for puns 1:35 AM Or too early 1:35 AM Or something 1:35 AM Shouldn’t you be sleeping? 1:37 AM A BUCK-AN-EAR! 1:42 AM Yes, a spectacular feat of hilarity Felix, good NIGHT 1:51 AM You know you love my puns. 1:54 AM See you in the morning, H. Thank you. I didn’t love his puns, but dammit, I laughed in spite of myself, curling up and finally dropping off with the sound of it still in my ears.
King of Wrath
By Ana Huang
Description: She’s the wife he never wanted…and the weakness he never saw coming.
Ruthless. Meticulous. Arrogant.
Dante Russo thrives on control, both personally and professionally.
The billionaire CEO never planned to marry—
until the threat of blackmail forces him into an engagement with a woman he barely knows.
Vivian Lau, jewelry heiress and daughter of his newest enemy.
It doesn’t matter how beautiful or charming she is. He'll do everything in his power to destroy the evidence and their betrothal.
There’s only one problem: now that he has her...he can't bring himself to let her go.
Elegant. Ambitious. Well-mannered.
Vivian Lau is the perfect daughter and her family’s ticket into the highest echelons of high society.
Marrying a blue-blooded Russo means opening doors that would otherwise remain closed to her new-money family.
While the rude, elusive Dante isn't her idea of a dream partner, she agrees to their arranged marriage out of duty.
Craving his touch was never part of the plan.
Neither was the worst thing she could possibly do: fall in love with her future husband.
About The Book
Anyone who's been following my blog for a bit might be aware that I have previously read books by the King of Wrath author, Ana Huang. Her Twisted series has pretty much universal acclaim in some respect or another. Everyone has their favorites picked out, mine being Twisted Love, and a love for the numerous relationships explored throughout the books.
I can admit that I have only read the first two books in the series because I was getting through them right around the time my personal life was spiraling downward. Yet, even from those alone, I see the reason why these books are so beloved across a diverse array of readers. Twisted Love was my personal favorite of the two, as a matter of fact, it also happened to be one of my favorite reads of the entire year.
So you'll imagine my surprise when I discovered that there was an upcoming new release by the author, King of Wrath. It hit shelves October 20, 2022 with prerelease buzz already circulating. Knowing Ana Huang's previous works, I trust this writer with the high hopes I have for King of Wrath and any future works to follow.
Tis The Season For Revenge
By Morgan Elizabeth
Description: Abbie Keller thought that Richard Bartholemew Benson the Third would be her forever. In their four years of dating, she never doubted that she wouldn’t end up with his grandmother’s engagement ring on her finger. Sure, she had to change a few things about herself to fit that mold, like dying her hair, dressing more conservatively, and finding golf enjoyable (honestly the most difficult of the changes), but she was sure that at the end of it all, it would be worth it.
That is, until he leaves her crying outside her apartment wearing a Halloween costume, having broken it off with her because she’s just not serious enough. She was just fun, he tells her - and now that Richard has becoming a partner at his law firm in his sights, he needs to focus on work.
So she does what every girl does when she’s broken up with: she calls her friends, gets drunk, dyes her hair, and formulates her plan for revenge. It just so happens that the universe supports her efforts and gives her the perfect match to prove to her ex that he made a huge mistake: his boss.
Abbie starts dating the founding partner of Richard’s law firm, Damien Martinez, with one thing in mind: convincing him to invite her to the huge annual Christmas party as his date.
But when the relationship starts to become something more than casual dating and Abbie sees that the tough New York lawyer has a soft side, will she be able to follow through with her plan of deceit?
About The Book
Since my return to bookish social media this year, I have admittedly spent a lot of time scrolling through BookTok. It is actually where I stumbled across Tis The Season For Revenge by Morgan Elizabeth through the author's account. The initial video that introduced me to the book is shown below:
Tis The Season For Revenge released on October 25th of 2022 just in time to make this monthly new release list. The book is described by the author as a Legally Blonde holiday retelling focused on revenge against a would-be Warner. Obviously, with spicy elements because it wouldn't be a BookTok recommendation otherwise. The premise is a unique idea that gives Vigilante Shit by Taylor Swift vibes in vibrant shades of pink, as Elle Woods herself intended.
Inside the pages has been promised steamy romance, an age gap love story, and a grumpy/sunshine dynamic (Duh! It wouldn't be a Legally Blonde inspired story without the last one). Now all that's left is for you all to decide if it lives up to the hype. Feel free to let me know what you think.
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