If you love a good romance (and who doesn’t love a story about love?) we have two brand-new books for you to add to your summer reading list. The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon is a laugh-out-loud novel set in Austin’s tech industry, starring a heroine who swears off dating when a confrontation with her cheating boyfriend goes viral. A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby by Vanessa Riley sweeps the reader into Regency England, where a West Indian heiress risks her life to be near her son after her husband’s mysterious death.
Get to know Farrah Rochon and Vanessa Riley as they answer our Authors In Real Life questionnaire:
I’ve been listening to:
Vanessa Riley: I’ve listened to a lot of smooth jazz and gospel. They settle my nerves and keep me focused on creation.
Farrah Rochon: Mostly audiobooks. I’m making my way through Karin Slaughter’s expansive backlist and just finished Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing.
I love to watch:
VR: Mythbusters. I love how they approach problems or fables or flukes and test them in a methodical way. Oh, and the explosions. I love those.
FR: True crime shows. I’m a huge fan of Dateline, 20/20, 48 Hours and Forensic Files. You’d think I wrote murder mysteries instead of romance.
Something I saw online that made me laugh, cry, or think:
VR: Too many videos are making me cry. Every time I see someone walking while black, breathing while brown, or living while other, being persecuted; it breaks my soul.
FR: I recently read an account from a young black actor who played Prince Hans in a live performance of Frozen the Musical. His pride in playing the character — that isn’t traditionally played by a person of color — and his heartache over how he was subsequently treated by some behind the scenes, really affected me and caused me to think about how those in the live theater world I love so much are treated.
Best meal I’ve had in the past month:
VR: Toasted coconut bread French toast. Think decadent layers of island flavor and hot buttery maple syrup on a plate and then my tummy.
FR: My parents treated me to a seafood platter from a local seafood restaurant for my birthday. I’m still dreaming about those fried crab claws and crawfish tails.
A creator who’s doing something I admire or envy:
VR: There are so many I admire like Alyssa Cole, who keeps pushing her storytelling to new levels and new genres. I love this new generation of novelists breaking ground like Tomi Adeyemi, Angie Thomas, and Brit Bennett. I also admire the longevity and continued excellence of Beverly Jenkins and Toni Morrison.
FR: I’ll be honest, I admire the heck out of all those TikTok creators. The videos are so clever.
A book I recently recommended to someone else:
VR: Books I recently recommend were Candice Carty-Williams’ Queenie (fun Bridgette Jones feels), Farrah Rochon’s The Boyfriend Project (fresh tech romance fun), Kwana Jackson’s Real Men Knit (fresh takes on masculinity), Sarah Maclean’s Brazen and The Beast (women power and forces of nature combined) and Julia Quinn’s First Comes Scandal (laugh-out-loud fun).
FR: (Im)perfectly Happy by Sharina Harris.
The last event I bought tickets to was:
VR: I don’t remember. It’s been a long time. ☹
FR: The national tour production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at New Orleans’ famed Saenger Theater.
Most meaningful recent travel destination:
VR: The last trip of 2020 was to a February book club meeting in North Carolina. It was good to see and hug readers. My hand sanitizer swag was gone in five minutes.
FR: I visited India back in 2018 and was completely blown away by the history, the culture and the people.
I wish I knew more about:
VR: How to grow grapes to bottle wines. I have a plot of land in the south. I have ideas.
FR: Soap making. Weird, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do but have never taken the time to learn.
My favorite thing about bookstores:
VR: These are my favorites: The smell of new books. The joy of see people holding newly purchased treasures. The smiles of knowledgeable staff recommending books the love.
FR: The smell!