I’m a visual person. I love “pretty” things. I love colorful things. So when I perused my many stacks of books on my desk for ideas for this week’s Heat Index, my eye was drawn to five gorgeous hardcover books sitting beautifully in a pile. I knew then, regardless of the topic, that these books needed to be in a list together. Then I read each synopsis and it was like the stars had aligned. Each book begins similarly by showing the protagonist’s current life, but the comfortable lifestyle each character was living is soon thrown completely off-course, leading them to situations and people they could have never expected.

Old love, new love, suspense, thrill and the power that lies within a story itself lives within the pages of these books. Each one will take you for a ride and just like the main character, you too, may return a different person.

What Remains of Me: A Novel, Alison Gaylin (William Morrow, February 23)

alison-gaylin-what-remains-of-me-coverThermometers“An era in which privacy is becoming a myth and people’s lives often are played out in the media, scrutinized for every telling detail, makes a provocative foundation for Alison Gaylin’s absorbing What Remains of Me.” Associated Press

Heat Index: Five years after being released from prison for killing Oscar-nominated director John McFadden 30 years before, Kelly Michelle Lund is shockingly the prime suspect of yet another murder mystery and this time it’s her film legend father-in-law who is the victim. While there are many who believe she’s innocent, lines blur and what’s true and what is a lie begin to mean the same thing. She’s stuck between her devoted husband and a sister-in-law who has made a name for herself by selling Lund’s horrible story, and somehow the truth must prevail. No one and nothing is as it seems in this awesomely suspenseful and riveting novel.

Temperature: 88°

Opening Belle: A Novel, Maureen Sherry (Simon & Schuster, February 2)

opening-belle-maureen-sherry-coverThermometers“Compulsively readable…a cheeky—and at times, romantic—battle-cry for any woman who’s ever strived to have it all and been told by a man that she couldn’t.” Entertainment Weekly

Heat Index: Belle’s perfect life with her three kids and husband on the Upper West Side is about to change because she’s sick and tired of the frat-boy environment she works in at a New York investment firm. When she decides to form a “girls club” with her fellow female colleagues, it could spell the end of her job. But now add in the appearance of an ex-fiancé, who also just happens to be her firm’s biggest client. With a look at what her life could have been and the realization of what it means to be a woman in a “man’s world,” Belle must look within herself to discover true love and success. Sherry’s real-life experience on Wall Street only adds to this charming and funny novel that packs a punch with it’s overall message.

Temperature: 91°

I’m Glad About You: A Novel, Theresa Rebeck (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, February 23)

I'm-glad-about-you-theresa-rebeck-coverThermometers“A story about a young couple who fall for each other in the most unpredictable way and somehow find their way back to one another again. It’s a classic Danny meets Sandy story, with a modern spin.” BuzzFeed

Heat Index: When Alison and Kyle fell in love they never imagined they’d be ripped apart by choice, only to find themselves once again in each other’s path. What do you do when you meet the person you’re meant to be with but one wants to be an award-winning actress and the other wants to aid the sick in third world countries? Alison and Kyle soon find out as they realize love isn’t enough and must seek out their own paths. While fate brings them back together, it’s their decisions that will determine if they stay together or if they part. I laughed, I teared up, I understood. You won’t be disappointed that you went on this journey that Rebeck has so beautifully written.

Temperature: 92°

All Stories Are Love Stories: A Novel, Elizabeth Percer (Harper, March 22)

all-stories-are-love-stories-elizabeth-percer-coverThermometers“San Francisco’s unique architecture, diverse neighborhoods, and colorful residents are vividly brought to life. The intertwined love stories in this remarkably drawn setting will keep readers absorbed until the final, tear-jerking moments.” Publishers Weekly

Heat Index: It’s Valentine’s Day in San Francisco as well as the day that two devastating earthquakes shake the city. Max and Vashti still yearn for one another years after walking away from each other and when they are trapped together under fallen rubble, they must confront the truth of the past. Meanwhile, Gene is desperate to return home to his husband who was just diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. As their worlds literally shatter around them, these three characters quickly realize their lives will forever be changed by morning. Declared an Amazon Best Book of March 2016, Percer has nailed it once again with this all-too real look at the power of love.

Temperature: 95°

The Opposite of Everyone: A Novel, Joshilyn Jackson (William Morrow, February 16)

the-opposite-of-everyone-joshilyn-jackson-coverThermometers“Jackson delivers another quirky, Southern-based, character-driven novel that combines exquisite writing, vivid personalities, and imaginative storylines while subtly contemplating race, romance, family, and self. A searing yet ultimately uplifting look at broken people who heal themselves and each other through forgiveness, love, and the power of stories.” Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

Heat Index: Paula Vauss was once a foster care child named Kali who had told the story of her and her free-spirited mother, Kai, which landed her mother in jail and herself in foster care. It’s been 15 years, and now Paula is a divorce attorney with a successful practice. When not only a mysterious note, but a long-ago secret lands literally on her door step, Paula must confront the past she thought she left behind and track down her estranged mother. Old love and new possibilities present themselves and Paula must rebuild a family that has long been fractured. Jackson weaves an importantly breathtaking tale that makes you think about how each word you utter can truly affect all of the lives around you and why stories can literally change destiny.

Temperature: 96°