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THE FIVE STAGES OF COURTING DALISAY RAMOS

A Filipino courtship ritual is a uniquely interesting plot device in this sweet rom-com.

Cultures clash when an American travel writer pursues his Filipino co-worker.

Evan Saatchi wants nothing more than to be promoted to senior editor at Overnight, the travel app where he works as a writer. But when Dalisay Ramos—a new staff member who’s just moved to the U.S. from the Philippines—gets the gig instead, he finds the disappointment softened by his instant attraction to her. When he asks her out for a drink, though, she swiftly rejects him. Dalisay doesn’t believe in “American hookup culture” and is dedicated to the traditional Filipino values her parents ingrained in her from childhood, including a courtship ritual called the Five Stages. These stages, which include buying thoughtful gifts and performing a serenade, are meant to prove a man’s seriousness in pursuing a relationship. But Evan isn’t interested in serious romance and thinks that jumping through all those hoops is too much for just one date. That is, until Dalisay bets Evan that he can’t get through all Five Stages, offering him an all-expenses-paid trip through Asia that comes with her new position at Overnight if he does. What starts as a bet quickly turns into something more, as Evan and Dalisay become increasingly drawn to each other. But will their differences prove too big an obstacle to overcome? Keeping Evan and Dalisay at arm’s length for the first third of the novel results in a flimsy romance, and the author is more adept at building sizzling sexual tension than cultivating a deep emotional connection between her protagonists, though discussions of cultural differences are handled with sensitivity and depth.

A Filipino courtship ritual is a uniquely interesting plot device in this sweet rom-com.

Pub Date: July 9, 2024

ISBN: 9781454947677

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Union Square & Co.

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2024

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IT ENDS WITH US

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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JUST FOR THE SUMMER

A wallowing, emotionally wrenching family drama that leaves little time for romance.

Two people with bad luck in relationships find each other through a popular Reddit thread.

Emma Grant and her best friend, Maddy, are travel nurses, working at hospitals for three-month stints while they see the country. Just a few weeks before they’re set to move to Hawaii, Emma reads a popular “Am I the Asshole” Reddit thread from a Minnesota man who thinks he’s cursed—women he dates find their soulmates after breaking up with him, and the latest one found true love with his best friend! Emma has had a similar experience, which inspires her to DM the man and commiserate. She’s delighted by her witty, lively interactions with software engineer Justin Dahl, and is intrigued when he suggests that if they date each other, maybe they’ll each find their soulmate afterward. Emma upends the Hawaii plan and convinces Maddy to move to Minneapolis for the summer so she can meet Justin in person. The overly complex setup brings Emma and Justin together and the two hit it off, with Justin immediately falling head over heels for Emma. Jimenez then pivots to creating romantic roadblocks and melodramatic subplots centering on each character’s family of origin. Justin’s mother is about to serve six years in prison for embezzlement, which means Justin must move back home to care for his three much younger siblings. Emma was traumatized by her own mother for much of her childhood, left to fend for herself and eventually abandoned in the foster system. When her mother shows up in Minnesota, Emma must face her traumatic childhood and admit that she has prioritized her mother’s well-being over her own. There is little time devoted to Emma’s painful efforts to heal herself enough to accept Justin’s love, which leaves the novel feeling unsatisfying.

A wallowing, emotionally wrenching family drama that leaves little time for romance.

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781538704431

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Forever

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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