cover image The Referral Program

The Referral Program

Shamara Ray. Strebor, $16.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-59309-695-3

Ray (Recipe for Love) delivers a fun but slightly underdeveloped contemporary that’s as focused on female friendship as it is on romance. Thirty-something Dylan is expecting a Christmas proposal from her longtime partner, Ace, when he dumps her instead. Devastated and dreading her reentry into the dating scene, Dylan relies on monthly brunch dates with her (equally single) best friends, Brook and Ivy, to keep her sane. During one such get-together, as they share romantic advice and bottomless mimosas, an idea forms: instead of relying on dating apps, the friends will start a “referral program,” taking turns setting each other up with different men in their lives. The ensuing quest for Mr. Right comes replete with comedic mishaps and personal growth as each woman learns about herself in the process. It’s a cute premise, but unfortunately the plot moves slowly, and though the dynamic between the women is endearing, romance readers will be disappointed that none of the romantic relationships feel as fleshed out. It’s not perfect, but Ray’s fans will still want to check this out. Agent: Sara Camilli, Sara Camilli Agency. (Aug.)