cover image What If You & Me

What If You & Me

Roni Loren. Sourcebooks Casablanca, $14.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-4926-9325-3

Loren’s powerful, uplifting second Say Everything romance (after Yes & I Love You) delves into themes of trauma, consent, and recovery. As a teen, Andi Lockley was exploited and betrayed by someone she trusted, leaving her with PTSD and anxiety. As an adult, she channels her fears into a career as a horror writer and true crime podcaster, but she’s still hesitant to let anyone get close to her. That changes when she meets her new neighbor, Hill Dawson, a retired firefighter coping with his own set of traumas after a career-ending injury. Andi’s worries bring out Hill’s protective instincts, and her gregarious nature encourages him to socialize. Soon, the pair decide to enter into a friends with benefits arrangement, helping each other to overcome their issues with intimacy. But when deeper feelings develop, Andi and Hill must determine if they’re ready to pursue a real relationship. Loren does an impressive job crafting characters who, while scarred both emotionally and physically, are also resilient and relatable. Their connection is never less than believable and satisfying and the scorching yet sensual sex scenes only develop their growth and healing. The result is a couple readers will have no choice but to root for. Agent: Sara Megibow, KT Literary. (July)