It’s time for another Friday Reads post and my featured book today is the hilarious romcom, How to Keep a Husband for Ten Days by Jessica Hatch. So grab yourself a coffee, get comfy and let’s get chatting to Jessica.
How to Keep a Husband for Ten Days is the second-chance romance of Lina and Brown, a couple who started hot and heavy but have flamed out under the stress of everyday adult life. When their good friends band together to save their old apartment complex from gentrifying into luxury condos—and Lina and Brown’s romance, which blossomed in the building, becomes the center of the campaign—they have to pretend to still be madly in love each other. How long can they last? Will they decide calling it quits is a huge mistake? You’ll have to read to find out.
Readers are giving it five stars and saying things like:
“Only 10% into this book and I’m in love already. I love when a book hooks me from the start.” — Charmaine Healey, @irish_booklover89
“Jessica Hatch has done it again! I was so engrossed in each page, and I couldn’t wait to find out what was happening next!” — Gabriella, @reads.withgab
“With forced proximity, a fake relationship, and a bit of tension here and there, this book was so fun … I can’t wait for other projects from this author!” — @thenarnianreader_
Grab a copy here:
And Jessica’s debut, My Big Fake Wedding, is having a Kindle Monthly Deal in the UK in July? You can download the eBook for 99p!
And here’s an excerpt of How to Keep an Husband for Ten Days, to whet your appetite!
In this excerpt from How to Keep a Husband for Ten Days, Lina and Brown must scramble to pretend in front of their friend Freddie that Brown didn’t spend the last night sleeping on the couch.
She listened out for Brown in the living room.
She sighed in relief. She didn’t feel like interacting with him yet. Given their recent track record, the conversation would either be a shouting match or a passive-aggressive smug-off. Either would be too confusing right now, when her heart was feeling this vulnerable.
Hm. Not a bad thought to note. She had reached for her phone to add one last bit of context to her latest journal entry when there was a knock on the front door.
She sat bolt upright. Her leisurely morning was over.
“Brown?” Her voice quavered.
“Mmph?” His answer suggested it was coming from a face smooshed against a pillow.
“There’s someone at the—”
“Yoo-hoo! Anybody home?” Freddie said in a high-pitched voice from just outside the apartment. From the sound of it, they were drumming their fingernails against the doorframe.
“—door,” Lina said as she hopped out of bed.
Freddie lowered their voice to its normal register. “You know, I do have a master key. I’m doing this silly bit as a common courtesy—mostly to myself, since I don’t want to walk in on any early-morning nasties you married types might be getting up to.”
“Brown!” Lina hissed.
He mumbled in return.
“Freddie’s at the door! And you’re sleeping on the couch!”
This was apparently the magic phrase to get the crankshaft in Brown’s brain turning.
“I’m up!” he announced in a groggy stage whisper. “I’m up! What do we do? What do I do?”
“Act! Natural!” Lina said as she power-walked by, scooting into the kitchen to throw open cabinet doors. “And help me find the mugs!”
“I’m putting the key in the lock…” Freddie called.
Brown hurdled over the couch only to almost run into Lina as she flitted around to the trestle table, two white ceramic mugs in hand. He dashed to the entryway, throwing open the doors to the utility room and bathroom and essentially barricading the front door. “To buy us some time,” he explained as he Risky Business-ed his way back to the kitchen table.
“Good thinking,” Lina said.
“I’m counting to five, and y’all better be decent…” Freddie warned.
Lina wiped her forehead and gripped her mug with both hands. Nothing quite like anxiety sweat first thing in the morning. Then she looked down and a wave of nausea came up to join the sweat.
She whimpered. “We forgot the coffee!”
The knob turned.
Lina may have given up, but for whatever reason, Brown still seemed determined to see their ruse through. “Quick, gimme your mug,” he said.
“Good morning, starshine!” Freddie crowed. “The Earth—Whoa, door barricade.”
It sounds such a fun read, Jessica. Is your writing ever inspired by your family or real life incidents?
Whoa yes! All. The. Time.
Though I don’t think we should make the mistake of conflating a character with the author who developed them, I believe life is rich and complicated and wonderful and therefore should be chronicled however it can be. I have found myself in so many situations, hilarious, thrilling, and downright embarrassing, that my fiction is often inspired by my lived experience. (In fact, I had an “awkward/funny” AirBnB experience in Scotland this spring that I’m hoping my publisher, Bookouture, will permit me to explore in a future romcom!)
My second-chance romance, How to Keep a Husband for Ten Days, is inspired by my late twenties, when I lived in a small, historic apartment building in Downtown Jacksonville, Florida, that had a very close group of tenants.
We all knew each other from working in or dating someone who worked in the service industry, and so we started with casual late-night family meals, which soon became a Rabelaisian confection known as a “progressive dinner party,” or PDP. This was a multi-course meal that hopped from apartment and host to apartment and host for each course. It got so popular at one point that we had to invent new courses, like Appetizers 1 and 2, Night Cap, and a “Wild Card.” We also did a couple of themed cuisine nights, and I once wrote a Bob’s Burgers–themed murder mystery for us to solve as the night went on.
This type of dinner party is a major underpinning of How to Keep a Husband, which includes flashback chapters that each outline a different course from a PDP this fictional group of friends has enjoyed over the years. (If this sounds like fun, I have tips to host your own PDP on my Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/jessicanhatch/how-to-keep-a-husband-for-ten-days/htkah-dinner-parties/.)
How to Keep a Husband also has some gravitas to its second-chance romance, and as such, I always feel a need to disclaim that that particular gravitas has thankfully not touched my own marriage. Rather than being about the high school couple that lost touch and reconnects when one of them moves back to their hometown, Lina and Brown are a young married couple whose spark has fizzled. The stakes of their will-they-won’t-they is whether they’ll split up, not get together! My own husband and I have never come to the brink of divorce, but I will say that my characters’ fights over sharing household duties are not only relatable to me but really to any reader who has ever had a fight over chores with their partner! (I get a lot of DMs about this from thirty-something women who feel “seen.”)
(This is a great time to mention that whenever I’m going to base a character on a real-life person, I either make sure I have their permission first or I obfuscate enough identifying details like their physical appearance and name that I can get away with it. I recommend all novelists who want to stay on speaking terms with their family and friends do the same.)
If you want to “try before you buy” when it comes to my work, you can download my “based on a true” short story, “The Meet-Cute,” by joining my Bookouture-hosted newsletter (https://bookouture.com/subscribe/jessica-hatch/). In real life, I had inherited my grandparents’ ginger tomcat, Tigger, and was going to drive with him from Richmond, Virginia, to my home in Jacksonville, which is a road trip of about 600 miles. In the short story, main character, Chloe, and her long-term boyfriend have just broken up, and she’s moving with her ginger tomcat to a city three hours away. The following remains precisely the same as it happened in real life: Just as we hit the highway, the cat’s cage literally fell apart, and he was free-roaming the cabin of my car, having a kitty panic attack at 75 m.p.h. (There’s a reason the tagline is “What happens when you meet the perfect guy on your least perfect day?”) Like all great stories, its source material was a nightmarish headache at the time that has, with time and therapy, become one of my favorite stories to dine out on.
Oh, Jessica, this made me chuckle. I bet you have lots of material for future books. Thanks so much for dropping by to talk to us today.
Jessica Hatch writes heartfelt romantic comedies for anyone who grew up rooting for the main character’s best friend. Her first novel, My Big Fake Wedding, debuted at #1 in Humorous American Fiction and was named a Best Book of 2022 by Lonely Victories. Her second novel, How to Keep a Husband for Ten Days, has been embraced by a devoted second-chance romance readership and was named a Book to Read for spring 2023 by BookLuvr. Jessica loves to develop quirky, high-concept scenarios and then drop her characters into them, escape room–style, to see what happens next. Her work spotlights characters and locales the reader can fall in love with, and aims to explore real-world issues that women and nonbinary people face. Say hello at www.jessicahatch.com.
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