The Scarlet Alchemist (The Scarlet Alchemist #1)

October 2023 Must Haves

BP Note: Happy October! I am really getting excited for Halloween. For the first time in probably 10 years I am living somewhere where I can reliably expect to have trick-or-treaters. My costume is set, I have started acquiring candy (so expensive) and I have some decorations. I am also looking forward to getting some quality reading while something long simmering is on the stove or in the oven. What are you looking forward to this month? Any reads we left out? Please let us know.
Happy reading,

Contemporary Romance

Stars in Your EyesStars in Your Eyes by Kacen Callender – 10 Oct (Forever)

Logan Gray is Hollywood’s bad boy—a talented but troubled actor who the public loves to hate. Mattie Cole is an up‑and‑coming golden boy, adored by all but plagued by insecurities.

When Logan and Mattie are cast as leads in a new romantic film, Logan claims that Matt has “zero talent,” sending the film’s publicity into a nosedive. To create positive buzz, the two are persuaded into a fake‑dating scheme—but as the two actors get to know their new characters, real feelings start to develop.

As public scrutiny intensifies and old wounds resurface, the two must fight for their relationship and their love.

The PactThe Pact by Suzanne Wright – 13 Oct (Self)

She should say no. Addison Davenport figures that most people likely would. But after having her life plans repeatedly derailed, she’s come to wonder if her chance at marriage and kids ended with the death of her college boyfriend. So when business powerhouse Daxton “Dax” Mercier—a man who’s suffered a similar loss, a man who’s her first in every way—asks her to honor the fallback marriage pact they made years ago, she doesn’t reject it out of hand.

Their partnership would be no more than a business transaction, but what’s the point in holding out for love when it had granted her no guarantees in the past?

Maybe they could make a marriage work. Maybe. One thing is for certain: with the wounds of loss heavy on their souls and the fact that he’s given up on finding the big L again, friendship would be all they’d have.

Love would never enter their picture. Ever. Not even for a moment.

Secret Heir for Christmas (Devereaux Inc)Secret Heir for Christmas (Devereaux Inc) by LaQuette – 24 Oct (Harlequin Desire)

Fame cost him his first love.

This holiday, will the man next door tempt him with a second chance?

Actor Carter Jiménez lived a glamorous life until he lost his wife to the dark side of fame. Now he’ll protect his young daughter by avoiding celebrity at all costs. Then his seemingly understated neighbor, Stephan Devereaux-Smith, tempts his still-wounded heart. Is this Carter’s second chance at love?

But Stephan isn’t an average man caring for a sick relative. He’s part of a billionaire family and the ritzy world Carter left behind. Torn between new love and old demons, can Carter trust Stephan with his family—and his heart?

Off-limits MergerAn Off-limits Merger by Naima Simone – 24 Oct (Harlequin Desire)

Motorcycle exec Bran Holleran is a heartbeat away from turning his company into a household name—if he can keep his hands off the daughter of his most important investor. An ill-fated affair could destroy everything, but how can he resist?

After a betrayal on the eve of her wedding, Boston socialite Tatum Haas is through trusting men. Love is for fairy tales, and Tatum wants her career, nothing more. But her family’s new business partner is shattering her resolve just as explosive revelations put everything on the line…

Dark Fantasy

Starling HouseStarling House by Alix E. Harrow – 3 Oct (Tor Books)

Eden, Kentucky, is just another dying, bad-luck town, known only for the legend of E. Starling, the reclusive nineteenth-century author and illustrator who wrote The Underland–and disappeared. Before she vanished, Starling House appeared. But everyone agrees that it’s best to let the uncanny house―and its last lonely heir, Arthur Starling―go to rot.

Opal knows better than to mess with haunted houses or brooding men, but an unexpected job offer might be a chance to get her brother out of Eden. Too quickly, though, Starling House starts to feel dangerously like something she’s never had: a home.

As sinister forces converge on Starling House, Opal and Arthur are going to have to make a dire choice to dig up the buried secrets of the past and confront their own fears, or let Eden be taken over by literal nightmares.

If Opal wants a home, she’ll have to fight for it.

The Dead Take the A Train (Carrion City #1)The Dead Take the A Train (Carrion City #1) by Richard Kadrey and Cassandra Khaw – 3 Oct (Tor Nightfire)

Julie Crews is a coked-up, burnt-out thirty-something who packs a lot of magic into her small body. She’s been trying to establish herself in the NYC magic scene, and she’ll work the most gruesome gigs to claw her way to the top.

Julie is desperate for a quick career boost to break the dead-end grind, but her pleas draw the attention of an eldritch god who is hungry for revenge. Her power grab sets off a deadly chain of events that puts her closest friends – and the entire world – directly in the path of annihilation.

Under the Smokestrewn Sky (Up-and-Under #4)Under the Smokestrewn Sky (Up-and-Under #4) by Seanan McGuire writing as A. Deborah Baker – 17 Oct (Tordotcom)

The end of the improbable road.

Since stumbling from their world into the Up-and-Under, Avery and Zib have walked the improbable road across forests, seas, and skies, finding friends in the unlikeliest of places and enemies great in number, as they make their way toward the Impossible City in the hope of finding their way home.

But the final part of their journey is filled with danger and demise. Not everyone will make it through unscathed. Not everyone will make it through alive.

The final part of the enchanting Up and Under quartet reminds us of the value of friendship and the price one sometimes pays for straying from the path. No one’s safety can be guaranteed under the smokestrewn sky.


The Scarlet Alchemist (The Scarlet Alchemist #1)The Scarlet Alchemist (The Scarlet Alchemist #1) by Kylie Lee Baker – 3 Oct (Inkyard Press)

Zilan dreams of becoming a royal alchemist, of providing for her family by making alchemical gold and gems for the wealthy to eat in order to stay young forever. But for now, she’s trapped in her impoverished village in southern China, practicing an illegal form of alchemy to keep food on the table—resurrecting the dead, for a price.

When Zilan finally has the chance to complete her imperial exams, she ventures to the capital to compete against the best alchemists in the country in tasks she’ll be lucky to survive, let alone pass. On top of that, her reputation for raising the dead has followed her to the capital, and the Crown Prince himself seeks out her help, suspecting a coming assassination attempt.

The more Zilan succeeds in her alchemy, the more she gets caught in the dangerous political games of the royal family. There are monsters lurking within the palace walls, and it’s only a matter of time before they—and secrets of Zilan’s past—catch up with her.

Fantasy Romance

The Rebel's Prize (Daughter of Ravens #3)The Rebel’s Prize (Daughter of Ravens #3) by M.J. Scott – 17 Oct (Self)

Hunting traitors is easier than facing the man she never meant to love…

In the wake of treachery and broken bonds, Chloe de Roche has fled Illvya and a marriage that was never supposed to be real, to hunt the rebel mages trying to topple the empire. Bringing them to justice is the only way to clear her name and salvage something of the life she’s been fighting for. But leaving Lucien behind might be even harder than finding the truth about the treachery buried in the heart of the empire…

Faced with Chloe’s desertion, magic that undermines his ability to know the truth, and a threat to the emperor he is sworn to serve, Lucien de Roche is reeling. But even though his hopes that Chloe might grow to love him have been shattered, he can’t turn his back on his wife. Bound by vows and honor, he has no choice but to follow her, even if she might break his heart…

Defeating those who seek to tear their world apart will not only take all their powers but an admission that they are stronger together than apart. But are they willing to risk their lives—and their hearts—to save an empire?

Historical Mystery

The Bell in the Fog (Andy Mills #2)The Bell in the Fog (Andy Mills #2) by Lev AC Rosen – 10 Oct (Forge)

San Francisco, 1952. Detective Evander “Andy” Mills has started a new life for himself as a private detective―but his business hasn’t exactly taken off. It turns out that word spreads fast when you have a bad reputation, and no one in the queer community trusts him enough to ask an ex-cop for help.

When James, an old flame from the war who had mysteriously disappeared, arrives in his offices above the Ruby, Andy wants to kick him out. But the job seems to be a simple case of blackmail, and Andy’s debts are piling up. He agrees to investigate, despite everything it stirs up.

The case will take him back to the shadowy, closeted world of the Navy, and then out into the gay bars of the city, where the past rises up to meet him, like the swell of the ocean under a warship. Missing people, violent strangers, and scandalous photos that could destroy lives are a whirlpool around him, and Andy better make sense of it all before someone pulls him under for good.

Hercule Poirot's Silent Night (New Hercule Poirot Mystery #5)Hercule Poirot’s Silent Night (New Hercule Poirot Mystery #5) by Sophie Hannah – 24 Oct (William Morrow)

It’s 19 December 1931. Hercule Poirot and Inspector Edward Catchpool are called to investigate the murder of a man in the apparent safe haven of a Norfolk hospital ward. Catchpool’s mother, the irrepressible Cynthia, insists that Poirot stays in a crumbling mansion by the coast, so that they can all be together for the festive period while Poirot solves the case. Cynthia’s friend Arnold is soon to be admitted to that same hospital and his wife is convinced he will be the killer’s next victim, though she refuses to explain why.

Poirot has less than a week to solve the crime and prevent more murders, if he is to escape from this nightmare scenario and get home in time for Christmas. Meanwhile, someone else – someone utterly ruthless – also has ideas about what ought to happen to Hercule Poirot . . .

Paranormal Romance

Dust Born (Cambio Springs #4)Dust Born (Cambio Springs #4) by Elizabeth Hunter – 24 Oct (Recurve Press LLC)

Sean Quinn returned to Cambio Springs to help his family find their way out of trouble—not uncommon in this desert town of shapeshifters—but before he can hit the road again, a new threat emerges on the border of his family home, a threat that could leave Sean stuck in the Springs just when he’s most desperate to leave.

And one unsuspecting human might be stuck right there with him.

Ever since Juniper Hawkins came to Cambio Springs to visit her big brother, strange things keep happening, not the least was running into the man who’d almost made her change her wandering ways. Juni wasn’t the kind of woman who settled down, even when the object of her affection was a tall, dark, and handsome photographer who kissed her senseless then abandoned her in Southeast Asia.

Not that she was still irritated about that.

Till Heaven Do Us Part (Infernal Covenant #2)Till Heaven Do Us Part (Infernal Covenant #2) by Nadine Mutas – 31 Oct (Self)

After living in Hell for a year, I might have to amend the saying “Hell is other people” to “Hell is other people’s family .”

Specifically, my dear demon husband’s family, AKA my infernal in-laws. Even more specifically, Lucifer, my grandfather-in-law. In a revelation surprising exactly no one, Lucifer really is a mean-spirited, nefarious, hateful mothertrucker, and for reasons beyond my control, I am bound to him with a vow of silence about a juicy little secret he’s been keeping—from Azazel, my beloved demonic spouse. Which puts me between a rock and a hard place, and I don’t mean between the wall and Azazel’s magnificently muscled torso. That one, I wouldn’t mind.

I’m notoriously bad at keeping secrets. Given the non-existent filter between my brain and my mouth, no one’s more impressed than me that I haven’t spilled the beans to Azazel yet. I can only credit the paralyzing fear of what Lucifer would do to me if I broke my vow to him. But I’m just barely keeping it together here. All it would take for me to crack is a crisis that short-circuits my brain and I’d probably sing like a canary. Thank goodness my life is boring AF and nothing ever happens here in Hell to throw me off kilter. Oh, wait… *** Author’s Till Heaven Do Us Part is the second installment in the Infernal Covenant trilogy. This book ends in a cliffhanger, for which the author is really sorry.*

Science Fiction

Rogue Protocol (Murderbot Diaries #3)Rogue Protocol (Murderbot Diaries #3) by Martha Wells – 13 Oct (Graphic Audio)

Rogue Protocol is the third entry in Martha Wells’s Hugo, Nebula, Alex, and Locus Award-winning, New York Times and USA Today bestselling series, The Murderbot Diaries.

Starring a human-like android who keeps getting sucked back into adventure after adventure, though it just wants to be left alone, away from humanity and small talk.

Who knew being a heartless killing machine would present so many moral dilemmas?

Sci-fi’s favorite antisocial A.I. is back on a mission. The case against the too-big-to-fail GrayCris Corporation is floundering, and more importantly, authorities are beginning to ask more questions about where Dr. Mensah’s SecUnit is.

And Murderbot would rather those questions went away. For good.

Adapted from the novel and produced with a full cast of actors, immersive sound effects and cinematic music!

Crises (Invictus #2)Crises (Invictus #2) by Rachel Neumeier – 15 Oct (Self)

No plan ever survives contact with the enemy.
Especially when you aren’t sure which side is your enemy.

Now that everyone’s secret plans have been revealed, Sevastien suddenly finds that he has to reassess everything he knows about his enemies … and his friends.

Generation ShipGeneration Ship by Michael Mammay – 17 Oct (Harper Voyager)

In 2108, Colony Ship Voyager departed Earth for the planet of Promissa with 18,000 of the world’s best and brightest on board. 250 years and 27 light years later, an arrival is imminent. But all is not well. The probes that they’ve sent ahead to gather the data needed to establish any kind of settlement aren’t responding, and the information they have received has presented more questions than answers. It’s a time when the entire crew should be coming together to solve the problem, but science officer Sheila Jackson can’t get people to listen. With the finish line in sight, a group of crewmembers want an end to the draconian rules that their forebearers put in place generations before.

However, security force officer Mark Rector and his department have different plans. As alliances form and fall, Governor Jared Pantel sees only one way to bring Voyager ’s citizens together and secure his own a full-scale colonization effort. Yet, he may have underestimated the passion of those working for the other side… Meanwhile, a harsh alien planet awaits that might have its own ideas about being colonized.

A battle for control brews, and victory for one group could mean death for them all.

Exit Strategy (Murderbot Diaries #4)Exit Strategy (Murderbot Diaries #4) by Martha Wells – 26 Oct (Graphic Audio)

Murderbot wasn’t programmed to care. So, its decision to help the only human who ever showed it respect must be a system glitch, right?

Having traveled the width of the galaxy to unearth details of its own murderous transgressions, as well as those of the GrayCris Corporation, Murderbot is heading home to help Dr. Mensah—its former owner (protector? friend?)—submit evidence that could prevent GrayCris from destroying more colonists in its never-ending quest for profit.

But who’s going to believe a SecUnit gone rogue?

And what will become of it when it’s caught?

Adapted from the novel and produced with a full cast of actors, immersive sound effects and cinematic music!

Science Fiction Romance

Her Alien Healers (Haven Colony #6)Her Alien Healers (Haven Colony #6) by Susan Hayes – 17 Oct (Black Scroll Publications)

Jodi Clark has been many things over the a doctor, a wife, and a divorced single mother. Now, there’s just one more thing she needs to do – for once in her life, she’s going to put herself first.

An unexpected invitation to Haven colony comes at the perfect moment. A new home and new challenges are just what she needs to kick-start her time of self-discovery. At least, that’s what she thought…

Haven isn’t as peaceful as its name implies. There are hidden threats, secret societies, and most dangerous of all, a pair of sexy alien silver foxes that are as alluring as they are off-limits.

Two alien healers who cannot mend their broken hearts are about to meet the cure…

Tariq and Sulat are Vardarian anrik , blood-bound brothers destined to share their lives, a family, and a mate. When a tragic accident claimed the life of their mahaya , grief shattered their lives and ended their hopes for the future.

Joining the exodus to Haven seems like the best way to move forward and rebuild what remains of their family. Their new home is indeed a haven, but one under threat from outside forces and the pressures of traditions best left in the past.

Three healers willing to risk their lives to protect their patients… but do they have the courage to risk their hearts?

Pets in Space 8Pets in Space 8 by Carol van Natta et al – 3 Oct (Pets in Space Books for Chavanch Press)

Blast off into adventure with the eighth installment of PETS IN SPACE, a dynamic anthology of 11 never-before-seen science fiction romance stories! Rocket through the multi-verses brimming with heart-pounding escapades, swoon-worthy romances, and the best pet sidekicks ever!

Each story will pull you into the far-flung corners of the cosmos with intrepid heroes and heroines you’ll want to cheer for as they fight to save their world and find their happily ever afters. You’ll adore the furry, feathered, and scaly friends who have come to help their brave human companions on their quests.

This limited-edition anthology includes novellas by some of the biggest names in science fiction romance including USA TODAY bestselling authors R.J. Blain, Susan Hayes, Honey Phillips, Skye MacKinnon, Arizona Tape, Carol Van Natta, Tana Stone, S.J. Pajonas, Carysa Locke, JC Hay, plus award-winning authors Gail Koger and Elva Birch.

The Pets in Space 8 authors continue their vital support of Hero-Dogs, the non-profit charity that provides trained service dogs for disabled U.S. veterans and first-responders.

Urban Fantasy

Spells in the Summertime (Where the Wild Things Grow #2)Spells in the Summertime (Where the Wild Things Grow #2) by Auryn Hadley – 6 Oct (Spotted Horse Production)

Forest trails, cactus flails, and little skunk tails, that’s where I get my magic…

“Surprise, you’re a witch.” That’s not exactly what I expected when I inherited a cozy little cottage in the woods. Nor to have a cactus as my new door guard or a skunk as my familiar! Still, this whole magic thing is growing on me.

The pair of hot boyfriends certainly helps make it easier to accept the insanity. But after dealing a serious blow to the coven of wixen who planned to enslave me, I’m kinda screwed. I may have won that battle, but I learned I do not know enough to stop the upcoming war – and a skunk can only teach me so much.

What I need is a little help here! Yet when it’s offered by the bad boy of the coven, I’m not sure I can trust it. Never mind that he’s my boyfriend’s ex! Things are starting to get complicated, and I still can’t find the lost wild things. If those die, magic will be lost forever!

How can I save them if I don’t even know where they’re being held? Worse, how can I do this? I still don’t know what I’m doing! Or maybe I should just let magic die? That might be the only way to end this once and for all.

There are some situations in this book that may be triggering for some readers. Please check the front of the book via the “Look Inside” option for the ‘Potential Sensitive Content’ page for further details.

Long Past Dues (Unorthodox Chronicles #2)Long Past Dues (Unorthodox Chronicles #2) by James J. Butcher – 10 Oct (Ace)

Grimsby, the newest Auditor in the magical Department of Unorthodox Affairs, finds himself in hot water when he intercepts a friend’s case in this fast-paced and thrilling urban fantasy.

Against all odds, Grimshaw Griswald Grimsby has become an Auditor, enforcing laws about magic for Boston’s Department of Unorthodox Affairs. But Grimsby soon realizes the daily grind of his job is far removed from the glamour he imagined. Overlooked for every exciting case, Grimsby tires of being told to handle mundane magical troubles, and appropriates a case file intended for a friend.

Alongside Leslie Mayflower, the temporarily unretired Huntsman, Grimsby aims to crack the case and discover the origin of a strange, unfinished ritual—one that seems to imitate the handiwork of a foe Mayflower put down twenty years ago.

Together, they’ll have to deal with escaped werewolves, a cursed artifact, and a perilous journey to the mysterious subterranean city below Boston, all to uncover the shocking truth. At any cost, Grimsby must stop this ritual from finally being completed. Yet the cost may be paid not by himself but by his friends. . . .

The Viper's Nest Roadhouse & Café (Sam Quinn #6)The Viper’s Nest Roadhouse & Café (Sam Quinn #6) by Seana Kelly – 31 Oct (NYLA)

I’m Sam, the werewolf book nerd owner of The Slaughtered Lamb Bookstore & Bar. Clive, Fergus, and I are moving into our new home, the business is going well, and our folly is taking shape. The problem? Clive’s maker Garyn is coming to San Francisco for a visit, and this reunion has been a thousand years in the making. Back then, Garyn was rather put out when Clive accepted the dark kiss and then took off to avenge his sister’s murder. She was looking for a new family. He was looking for lethal skills. And so, Garyn has had plenty of time to align her forces. When her allies begin stepping out of the shadows, Clive’s foundation will be shaken.

Stheno and her sisters are adding to their rather impressive portfolio of businesses around the world by acquiring The Viper’s Nest Roadhouse & Café. Medusa found the place when she was visiting San Francisco. A dive bar filled with hot tattooed bikers? Yes, please!

Clive and I will need neutral territory for our meeting with Garyn, and a biker bar (& café, Stheno insisted) should fit the bill. I’d assumed my necromancy would give us an advantage. I hadn’t anticipated, though, just how powerful Garyn and her allies were. When the fangs descend and the heads start rolling, it’s going to take every friend we have and a nocturne full of vamps at our backs to even the playing field. Wish us luck. We’re going to need it.

The monthly Must Have list is a compilation of the upcoming release titles that we, The Book Pushers, just can’t wait to get our hands on. Don’t see a title you’re excited about listed here? Add it to the comments section below. Let us know what you’re looking forward to!

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