Serena Khan is, by all accounts, successful: her long-term boyfriend is about to propose, she's got a great job at an accounting firm, and she has an apartment in Seattle she loves. Still, a question has nagged her since her mother's death years earlier: "What if I don't want this life I've built?" It's a question likely to be familiar to anyone who's ever defined success based on someone else's expectations--and forms the heart of Neely Tubati Alexander's heartwarming debut novel, Love Buzz.
Serena is at an over-the-top bachelorette party in New Orleans when she meets Julian. The "like, serious, instantaneous chemistry" she feels with him is the polar opposite of the "calm at first sight" feeling she has with her boyfriend, and that spark of passion sets off a chain of events that includes quitting her job, breaking up with her boyfriend, and, for the first time ever, living without a plan. "There are no set paths, Serena. Only choices," advises Odette, the "potty-mouthed, Southern white lady fairy godmother" she meets on her flight back from New Orleans. There's a "Cinderella"-esque quality to Love Buzz (a chance meeting upends a woman's life, a fairy godmother offers guidance, etc.), but unlike the fairy tale, Alexander's debut is more than the romance at its center, and offers no neat and tidy happily-ever-after. Love Buzz offers readers a delightful story sure to spark moments of thoughtfulness and joy as Serena seeks a life crafted for--and by--herself, which just might include the very charming man she must find again. --Kerry McHugh, freelance writer