Spotlight & Giveaway: Dear Dotty by Jaclyn Westlake

Posted June 20th, 2024 by in Blog, Spotlight / 16 comments

Today, HJ is pleased to share with you Jaclyn Westlake’s new release: Dear Dotty




Hi HJ readers! I am Jaclyn Westlake, author of Dear Dotty! Enjoy this excerpt from the book.

Rosie Benson does not have it all together. Like most twenty-somethings, she struggles to figure out life and soon finds herself following the advice of her late great-aunt through a series of revelatory emails about pursuing long-buried dreams rather than society’s idea of perfect in this fun, highly relatable debut. Perfect for fans of Beth O’Leary, Lizzie Damilola Blackburn, and Sophie Kinsella.

What’s a twenty-something gal to do when her parents announce a divorce after thirty years of marriage, she finds out her best friend has cozied up to her archnemesis, and she accidentally sleeps with the Wrong Guy? Turn to her great-aunt for advice, of course.

Rosie Benson has always struggled to fit in with her over-accomplished family, type-A roommate/best friend, and workaholic boss. But she’s nearly losing herself as she strives to become everyone else’s idea of perfect. When Rosie is abruptly fired from her job at a tech start-up where her boss was way too enthusiastic about synergy and company swag, the illusion that she has life figured out is shattered. Knowing she needs a push, her great-aunt Dotty—a globe-trotting, martini-swilling occasional nudist, and the only person Rosie has ever truly felt herself around—challenges her to pursue a long-buried dream, others’ expectations be damned.

But then Dotty dies.

And Rosie spirals.

As new details of Dotty’s past emerge through revelatory emails from her many friends, Rosie realizes that maybe her aunt’s life wasn’t as charmed as she thought. With her career, friendships, and family unraveling, Rosie must drown out the noise of the world telling her what she should pursue—boyfriend, babies, boss-babe role at a corporate job—and finally focus on what she actually wants.


Enjoy an exclusive excerpt from Dear Dotty 

I woke up in Donovan’s bed. My last clear memory of the night before was Bart flashing me a thumbs-up as I left the bar and hopped into an Uber with Donovan. The rest of our evening was a whirlwind of Fireball and late-night pizza and kissing. So much kissing.

I blinked my eyes open, my gaze slowly sweeping across the room. Gauzy sunlight streamed through the floor-to-ceiling windows, casting a warm glow across the hardwood floors, which were spotless. The walls were white, but an expensive-looking white, with huge silver frames, each bearing an artsy photo of San Francisco landmarks: Sutro Tower, the Bay Bridge, Alcatraz. My clothes from last night had been neatly folded and placed on a gray armchair in the corner. I looked down, relieved to see that I was wearing one of Donovan’s T-shirts.

“Good morning,” Donovan said softly. He was shirtless, with wet hair and a thick white towel draped around his neck. He held a glass of water in his hand. “Sorry to wake you so early. I have an investor brunch down the peninsula this morning.” He arranged his face into a look that said, you know how it is. Even though I had no idea how it was. Brunch in my world consisted of bottomless mimosas at Dotty’s favorite drag bar, but I nodded all the same.

He set the glass on the nightstand. I breathed in his scent—an involuntary reflex. “You smell like an expensive Christmas tree,” I said. Apparently, I was still drunk.

He laughed, revealing a dimple that made my heart feel like Jell-O. “Thank you?”

“You’re welcome,” I mumbled, digging my face into a pillow. “What time is it?”

“Seven thirty.”


“Tell me about it. What about you? Any big plans today?”

I threw my arm over my eyes. “More sleep,” I grumbled.

He crossed the expansive bedroom and slid his closet door open, revealing a seemingly endless row of starched button-down shirts. They were arranged by color, from light to dark. He dropped the towel into a leather hamper and selected a blue-and-white- checkered shirt. I couldn’t help watching as the muscles in his taut stomach rippled with every movement. My cheeks warmed as I flashed on another fragmented memory: running my fingers down that bare chest, down his stomach, down, down, down. “What are you staring at?” Donovan said, a mischievous glint in his dark eyes.

I racked my brain for a cover story. “That shirt doesn’t go with those pants.” It was the best I could come up with on the fly.

Donovan stopped midbutton, his face falling as he looked at his dark jeans. I willed myself to sit up, wary of a looming hangover, but my head felt surprisingly clear. My mouth, on the other hand, was dry and grimy. I reached for the water on the glossy white nightstand.

“Doesn’t everything go with jeans?”

I took a long drink of water, swishing it around in my mouth before swallowing. “Pretty much,” I said, “I was just messing with you.”

Donovan cocked his head, eyebrows raised. “Funny.” I raised my glass in response before taking another drink. I didn’t normally do this, wake up in strange men’s apartments. But I felt surprisingly comfortable around Donovan. It was like we’d been friends in a past life or something.

“Can I use your bathroom?”

He gestured toward a frosted glass door that probably cost more than my car. “Be my guest.”

I swung my feet onto the floor, surprised by its warmth. “Do you have heated floors?”

He tucked his shirt into his pants with a smooth shove. “Yep.”

“You’re rich,” I said.

“You’re drunk,” he countered. We were both right.

Donovan’s bathroom was covered in wall-to-wall marble. All gray and white and glass. Dotty would have hated it. I beelined over to the mirror, my nose practically touching the glass. My mascara was clumped around the corners of my eyes and my hair was a tangled mess. I ran my fingers through my hair and scrubbed my face, feeling vaguely guilty about the dark smears I left on Donovan’s white towel. “Do you have any mouthwash?” I called, carefully folding the towel and placing it in a small hamper under the sink.

“Cabinet on the left!” he called through the door.

I padded over to the other vanity and tugged it open. And that’s when I realized that Donovan might be a psychopath. It wasn’t just his closet that was fanatically organized. Each shelf of the vanity was dedicated to a different hygienic need: neatly stacked containers of floss, electric toothbrush heads, tubes of toothpaste, and bottles of mouthwash lined the top shelf. Below that were containers of hair products, ranging from gel to mousse to hair spray—all organized by brand (none of which I’d heard of). The lowest shelf boasted more face creams than a drugstore. But that wasn’t the craziest part. He’d used a label maker for every section, as if he might forget what went where.

I pushed thoughts of Dexter from my mind and dumped a capful of mouthwash into my mouth. It was no substitute for brushing, but the minty freshness would be enough for now. I pulled on my clothes from the night before, pushing away memories about how they came off (frantically, haphazardly, piece by piece in a drunken blur), and put Donovan’s T-shirt in the hamper. Feeling more or less human again, I reemerged to find Donovan sitting on his neatly made bed, lost in his phone.

“So,” I said, doing my best to sound casual. “You’re a neat freak?”

His head snapped up, eyes softening as he took me in. He flashed me a sheepish smile.

“I have a mild case of obsessive-compulsive disorder. It’s a side effect of growing up as the only son of an overbearing politician. At least that’s what my therapist says.”

“It’s charming, in a creepy serial killer way.”

“Just don’t look in my freezer.”

“I won’t as long as you don’t look in my closet.”

He arched an eyebrow. “Are you inviting me into your bedroom?”

I gave him a coy look. “Maybe. As long as you promise not to murder me.”

“I think that can be arranged.”

“No one has ever promised not to murder me before.”

He wriggled his eyebrows. “There’s a first time for everything.” It was official: I had a monster crush on Donovan Ng.

As my Uber pulled away from Donovan’s building (which had a doorman and a seating area in the lobby that was nicer than my parents’ living room), I felt like I was moving between two worlds. Donovan’s was sleek and cool and full of possibility. Mine was dull and small and bland. The thought of getting another glimpse into Donovan’s lifestyle was thrilling. Almost as thrilling as the prospect of doing what we did last night again.

Excerpt. ©Jaclyn Westlake. Posted by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.

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Meet the Author:

Jaclyn Westlake is a debut author and an alumna of the Stanford Continuing Studies novel writing program. A recruiter turned career advice columnist, her work has appeared in Forbes, Business Insider, and Inc. She lives in California with her husband and their dachshund mix, Indiana Jones (but you can call him Indy).

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16 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: Dear Dotty by Jaclyn Westlake”

  1. Dianne Casey

    I enjoyed the excerpt and I’m looking forward to reading the book.