Monday, February 10, 2014

Sexy socialites, wily widows, and lonely hearts
by Brenda Janowitz

Who doesn't love a little romance on Valentine's Day?  I'm a sucker for chocolate, hearts and all things St. Valentine.  But by far, my favorite thing for Valentine's Day is a great read.  Today I've got three for you: THE GIN LOVERS by Jamie Brenner, THE WIDOW'S GUIDE TO SEX AND DATING by Carole Radziwill, and a sneak peek of my latest, THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB.

THE GIN LOVERS by Jamie Brenner

Oh, how I loved THE GIN LOVERS by Jamie Brenner.  And I knew that I would from the killer first sentence—“It’s the party of the year, and it’s a funeral.”  The writing is amazing, the story, sexy and fast-paced, and it's filled with drama and smart period details.

THE GIN LOVERS tells the story of Manhattan socialite Charlotte Delacorte.  Living in the height of Prohibition and the rise of the jazz age, she wouldn’t know it, with her controlling husband and high society expectations.  When her wild sister in law comes to live with her after the death of her mother in law, Charlotte is introduced to the world of jazz clubs, speakeasies and a sexy, mysterious stranger.

The beauty of THE GIN LOVERS is that you can read it in any way you want.  It's available to read two different ways; you can either enjoy it piece by piece in six parts as the e-book serial or devour it whole as a paperback.  So far everyone I've recommended this book to has absolutely LOVED it, and I know that you will, too!


You may know Carole Radziwill from the Real Housewives of New York City, or you may know her from her moving memoir, WHAT REMAINS, but now you have a whole new way to love all things Carole: her debut novel!

I couldn't get enough of THE WIDOW'S GUIDE TO SEX AND DATING.  I devoured it in two days.  Impossibly sexy, and incredibly stylish, this is the perfect read for Valentine's Day.

When Claire Byrne's older, very famous husband dies in a freak accident (struck down by a falling Giacometti!), she finds herself in a role she'd never imagined before: widow.  Untethered from her secure Manhattan life, Claire must reinvent herself and embark on a new life.  One where her own writing ambitions aren't overshadowed by her famous husband's career, one where she can carve out her own place in Manhattan, and one where she may even find something that's always eluded her: true love.

Funny and oozing with charm, THE WIDOW'S GUIDE TO SEX AND DATING is a must read.  It comes out this Tuesday, February 11, just in time for V-Day!


And while we're on the subject of Valentine's Day, I'm finishing up edits on my latest novel, THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB.  It's the story of a woman who, after a few too many lonely vodka tonics on Valentine's Day, inadvertently starts an anti-love movement.

Some of you may remember this as my "trunk novel," the one that got away.  The novel I wrote, but never published.  Well, now the fabulous peeps at Polis Books have decided to correct that grievous wrong, and THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB will be making its e-book debut on your e-readers in just  a few months.  But since it's Valentine's Day, I thought I'd offer a little treat.  A sneak peek at THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB.  Enjoy!

Chapter 12: Owner of a Lonely Heart

Valentine’s Day.  February fourteenth.  A day of love and romance and frills and doilies.  A day filled with chocolate in heart shaped boxes and all things pink and red.

Valentine’s Day is the day on which lovers freely express their passion for each other by sending flowers, candies, and insipid love notes.  Lots of love notes.  According to the Greeting Card Association, approximately one billion valentines are sent every year, making it the biggest card giving holiday besides Christmas.

Dozens of red roses are sent on this day and hundreds of couples get engaged.  Radio stations play love songs and bakeries bake heart shaped cookies.  February fourteenth is a day dedicated entirely to the pursuit of love.

It’s also the day that five of Al Capone’s men gunned down seven members of Bugs Moran’s gang with Tommy guns in a garage on Chicago’s North Side in 1929.  But people usually don’t send cards for that.

It being Valentine’s Day and me being alone, I do what any respectable single woman who’s utterly alone would do—I open a bottle of Stoli and order in some fried food from my local Italian place.

“That’ll be $32.15,” the hostess says after she’s tallied up my dinner delivery order. 

“But I get the same thing every time,” I say, pouring my first vodka tonic of the evening.  I pour way too much vodka into the glass, making it stronger than I intend it to be, but I’m not exactly drinking it for the taste this evening.  “Isn’t it $18 and change?”

“Oh,” she says, “Yeah, normally it is, but there’s an extra charge on all of the menu items for Valentine’s Day.”

“What?”  I say, since I must have misheard her.  There’s no way in hell that this girl just told me that even though I was ordering in for one, she was charging me extra because it’s Valentine’s Day.  In fact, since I’m ordering for one and it’s Valentine’s Day, shouldn’t I actually get a discount instead of a price increase?  The whole situation really brings out my Irish.  Being a Jewish girl from Long Island, I don’t really have much Irish in me, but it brings it out nonetheless.

“Oh,” she says, “I was just saying that there’s an extra charge on all of the menu items for Valentine’s Day.”

“But, I ordered for one,” I say, pacing around my kitchen with my glass as I speak, “Clearly I’m alone and it’s Valentine’s Day.”

“Yeah,” she says, “I know, it’s just that there’s an extra charge on all of the menu items for Valentine’s Day.”

“I heard you,” I say.  I take a big gulp of vodka.

“Okay, so, then it should be there in about 20 minutes,” she says, trying to get me off the phone.

“I ordered for one.” 

Dead silence on the line. 

“I’d like to speak to a manager,” I say, polishing off my first glass in just one large gulp. 

“Um, okay,” she says, “hold on.”

“Hi there,” the manager’s cheery voice announces, as I’m pouring vodka tonic number two.  To call this one a vodka tonic would be a bit of a misnomer.  Glass number two is more like a vodka with a splash of tonic.  “I’m Greg.  I’m the manager here.”

“Hi, Greg,” I say as I sit at the kitchen counter and swirl the glass to mix my drink, “I understand that it’s Valentine’s Day and that means that you have to gauge the eyes out of all the lovesick puppies that come into your restaurant tonight.  I would do the exact same thing, Greg.  The same thing.  I mean, fuck them, okay?  Fuck ‘em, Greg.  But, I am home—alone—ordering for one.  How dare you charge me extra for my goddamned Caesar salad and chicken parm.  Tonight of all nights.  I mean, what the fuck, Greg?  What the fuck?”

“You are absolutely right, miss,” manager Greg says to me as I down the second glass of vodka, “I’m so sorry.”

My Caesar salad and chicken parm arrive hot on my doorstep twenty minutes later, and the delivery guy presents me with the bill.  I glance at the bill, ready to pay, but then I notice something.  It’s not a bill for the usual amount—it’s a bill for the jacked up Valentine’s Day price.

“I’m not paying this,” I say, handing back the bill to the delivery guy.

“Um,” he says, shifting his weight from foot to foot.  “Whaddya mean?”

“I mean you can tell Manager Greg to go fuck himself,” I say.

“Um, wait?  What?”

I hand the delivery guy a tip.  “This is for you.  You can tell Manager Greg I’m not paying for this.  If he has a problem with that, he can come up here himself.”  I grab the bag of food just before I slam the door.

I barely even taste the chicken parm.  Minutes later, I realize that I must have eaten—the take-out container’s empty—but it’s like I didn’t even have a bite.  Anger coursing through my veins, my face getting hotter by the second, barely processing a thought.  Just seeing red.  Blinding red.  I look down at the take-out container and realize I’m still hungry.

But I don’t want to eat.  I want to rage.

Put it into a song, I tell myself, Get it out with your music.

But the words don’t come.  There’s no structure, no rhyme or reason—I just want to scream at the top of my lungs for a while.  To blow off the steam.

A tear comes to my eye as I think about everything that’s happened to me in the past few months.  All the things that I’ve lost, all the things that were totally out of my control.  The job, the guy, the freelance gig, the wedding. 

The guy.  My eyes burn as I force the tears back, refuse to let them out.

I look at my computer across the room, its black cursor against the pale white screen flashing in the dark.  Talking to me.  Beckoning to me.  Write.  Get it all out.

So I do.

I’m the author of SCOT ON THE ROCKS and JACK WITH A TWIST. My third novel, RECIPE FOR A HAPPY LIFE, was published by St. Martin's on July 2, 2013. My fourth novel, THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB, will be published by Polis Books this winter.

My work’s also appeared in the New York Post and Publisher’s Weekly. You can find me at or on Twitter at @BrendaJanowitz.


  1. Brenda, thanks for the great reading recs - looking forward to your new book!

    1. Thanks so much, Lauren! I'm so excited for you to read it.

      And I LOVED these books! Both so smart and sexy-- perfect for Valentine's Day.

  2. We need to start a movement: #BooksForValentinesDay. :) Good luck with the new book!

    1. Yes! Don't books make the BEST presents?! I second that hashtag!!

  3. Loved your start to the new novel, Brenda! Good Luck!

    1. Thanks so much, Sheila! So, so excited about this!!

  4. Thanks for the suggestions.
    Looking forward to hearing you READ your new book.

  5. That is such a great excerpt! Loved it

  6. Brenda,
    This was such a great excerpt! Loved reading it and am looking forward to it's official release soon ;).

  7. Brenda, You tell a great tale, and you know how to sell a great tale! They all sound wonderful! Thanks for the suggestions and I look forward to your next release!

    1. Thanks, Laura!! I loved both those books so, so much!! And I'm really excited about LHC. A very happy Valentine's Day all around!