Picks of the Month | September's Best Genre Reads

September’s “Picks of the Month” showcase great reading. Share these titles with genre fans, add them to booklists, and dive in yourself.

Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk. Tor.com. Nov. 2022. 144p. ISBN 9781250849458. $19.99. FANTASY

In Polk’s (Soulstar) alternate-history Jazz Age Chicago, where angels live among the godly and demons stalk the streets, Helen Brandt is a woman who sold her soul to save her brother. She has one last chance to get it back and spend the rest of her days with the woman she loves. She thinks her task is to figure out which demon is poaching on another’s Chicago turf. But demons lie—and so, as Helen discovers, do angels. This bittersweet urban fantasy romance wraps its tale of love and inevitable loss in a desperate search for a serial killer that begins as a murder mystery and then grows wings—and tentacles. Polk’s world, where angels answer the prayers of the faithful while demons prey on the fallen, turns standard concepts of good and evil on their heads as the heroine learns that her world is not what she thought it was. VERDICT Readers who fell into recent Jazz Age urban fantasies such as Desideria Mesa’s Bindle Punk Bruja and fans of time-travel or fantasy romances with tragic endings, like Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, will love Polk’s latest. —Reviewed by Marlene Harris, Sep 01, 2022 

Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan. Forever: Grand Central. (Skyland, Bk. 1). Nov. 2022. 400p. ISBN 9781538706794. pap. $15.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

The first novel in Ryan’s (Queen Move) new “Skyland” series depicts a fractured family’s efforts to find joy in life after a year of heartbreaks. Yasmen and Josiah were the perpetually-in-love couple that everybody envied and were sure would go the distance. After back-to-back losses lead them to divorce, they must now figure out how to coexist with someone who they once thought would be their forever. Not communicating or interacting would be impossible, since they remain tethered by two children, a business, and a community that they love. They make mistakes trying to define their new normal when they realize that their romantic relationship may not be as over as they thought, and it’s not only Josiah and Yasmen whose life trajectories and feelings are on the line. Ryan’s frank discussion of mental health, including some characters’ reluctance to seek out the assistance of mental health professionals, elevates the believability of this family’s journey. A cast of hilarious, flawed, and largely supportive friends and family sets the stage for future books in the series. VERDICT This novel of rediscovered love is highly recommended for all fiction collections. —Reviewed by Nicole Williams, Sep 01, 2022

City of Fortune by Victoria Thompson. Berkley. (Counterfeit Lady, Bk. 6). Dec. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9780593440575. $27. M

Thompson’s sixth “Counterfeit Lady” mystery (following City of Shadows) is an entertaining, delightful caper novel with twist after twist. Elizabeth Miles Bates has tried to give up her life as a con artist, but sometimes she has to help someone. She and her lawyer husband, Gideon, are invited to the Belmont Stakes by one of his clients, Sebastian Nolan. There they meet his daughter, Irene, who has been worried about their horse, Trench. Trench stops dead in the middle of his race, leaving his jockey, Cal Regan, with a career-ending injury. Trench had been tampered with, and both Irene and Sebastian suspect her father’s longtime enemy. When Elizabeth realizes that Irene loves Cal, and is pregnant, she knows her father will never allow his daughter to marry a jockey with no prospects. So Elizabeth hatches a scheme to avenge the sabotage while getting money for Irene and Cal. She enlists her father’s help in finding a suitable woman to run a marriage scam, a woman who already has plans to dupe the greedy men of New York society. VERDICT Captivating characters, such as Elizabeth and her mother-in-law, sparkle in this refreshing and amusing con narrative. —Reviewed by Lesa Holstine, Sep 01, 2022 

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