The Man Ban

Nicola Marsh. Berkley, $16 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-19864-3

Marsh returns with a sizzling, standalone sequel to The Boy Toy. White Australian food stylist Harper Ryland is taking a yearlong break from men following a messy breakup and the shock of her parents’ separation. She’s not about to make an exception to her “man ban” just for the aggravatingly sexy doctor who insulted her profession at her best friend’s wedding—no matter how hot it was when they kissed. Anglo-Indian ER doctor Manny Gomes avoids both commitment and his matchmaking grandmother with precision—but he can’t stop thinking about Harper, especially not after they’re unexpectedly reunited in New Zealand. Both are skittish about relationships, and Marsh keeps the reader hooked as the characters slowly open up to each other, revealing the past traumas at the root of their squeamishness. But for their relationship to succeed, they’ll have to look beyond their cultural differences and win over skeptical family members. Their slow-burning romance is slightly undermined by a rushed ending that sees conflicts resolved both too quickly and too neatly. Still, fans of Marsh’s witty dialogue and penchant for puns will race through this excellent beach read. Agent: Kim Lionetti, Bookends Literary. (July)