cover image Mrs. Nash’s Ashes

Mrs. Nash’s Ashes

Sarah Adler. Berkley, $17 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-54779-3

Debut author Adler combines heat and sweet in this charmingly offbeat rom-com. Former child star Millicent Watts-Cohen is determined to fulfill the dying wish of Rose Nash, her elderly landlady and dear friend. She sets out for Key West, Fla., to reunite Rose—or rather, some of her cremains—with Rose’s long-lost love, Elsie Brown, who is in hospice. She hopes to deliver the ashes before Elsie dies, but a major airport computer meltdown may foil those plans. Enter an acquaintance of her jerk ex-boyfriend, writer Hollis Hollenbeck, who is also stranded at the airport en route to Florida. The pair decide to drive together, and though perpetually sunny Millicent and curmudgeon Hollis make an odd couple, they bond quickly as the trip progresses. The author adds emotional depth by toggling between the present day and WWII, when Rose and Elsie’s forbidden queer romance first blossomed. Adler’s well-drawn characters leap off the page, and she handles difficult topics with grace. She also shows off her comedy chops in some laugh-out-loud road trip mishaps, including the leads booking a room at a Jesus-themed bed-and-breakfast and Millicent stumbling into the role of grand marshal at a small-town broccoli festival. This delightful debut is sure to find fans. Agent: Taylor Haggerty, Root Literary. (May)