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FINDING FRAN

A MIDLIFE MOXIE NOVEL

Readers will root for Fran to turn her life around in this cozy, accessible novel.

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A novelist eschews romance while on a quest for self-discovery in Christie’s series entry.

Several years ago, after dozens of rejections, Fran Carter found an agent and a publisher who loved her manuscript, and Love in the Moonlight became a surprise romance bestseller. Now, after two follow-up novels, which didn’t sell as well as the first, the middle-aged author suffers from writer’s block. It’s difficult for her to tap into the thrill of romance ever since she discovered that her former partner was unfaithful—and he didn’t even stick around to discuss their relationship. A disconsolate Fran leaves her San Francisco home and takes to the road to find some artistic inspiration—looking for “work time, productive writing time, the kind of time that would make my agent and publisher happy and keep my mind off my personal disaster.” She finds an eccentric bed-and-breakfast, the Whale Inn, where she spends a week befriending the owner, connecting with townspeople at local events, and working on her next novel. During the week, she discovers a whole new Fran—one who’s more independent and confident. As she takes more control over her life, she finds the courage to embrace change and conjure a no-nonsense protagonist for her new book: the character is open to romantic love, but also happy and successful on her own. For Fran herself, though, there’s only chaste soul-searching. Overall, Fran’s journey of discovery results in a comforting narrative, featuring a main character whom readers are sure to find relatable. There’s nothing flashy about the prose, but it’s solid and evocative throughout, which makes for a satisfying read. Although the pace is sometimes slow and there’s a relative lack of drama, Fran’s authentic self-realizations manage to propel the story forward. There are scenes that feel clichéd (one section, in which Fran gets a makeover with a new haircut, a more flattering wardrobe, and stylish makeup feels especially familiar), but they could easily be interpreted as knowing winks for genre fans.

Readers will root for Fran to turn her life around in this cozy, accessible novel.

Pub Date: May 24, 2024

ISBN: 9798350942248

Page Count: 302

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2024

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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THIS SUMMER WILL BE DIFFERENT

A steamy, romantic summer read with a charming setting.

A florist attempts to avoid her best friend’s brother—and their powerful chemistry—on Prince Edward Island.

When Lucy Ashby visits her best friend Bridget’s family home on Prince Edward Island for the first time, Bridget gives her three rules: Eat your weight in oysters….Leave the city behind. And, most importantly, Don’t fall in love with my brother. Unfortunately for Lucy, she sleeps with Felix basically the second her plane lands, unaware that he’s Bridget’s brother until it’s too late. Lucy has never felt understood or accepted by her immediate family, and Bridget is one of the very few people she allows into her inner circle, so Lucy’s desperate to abide by these rules. And so she and Felix try to avoid each other on every one of Lucy’s visits to PEI over the years. And, of course, they fail spectacularly, always returning to each other when they’re in between relationships. But it’s never been anything serious…Lucy makes sure of that, backing off whenever her emotions feel too strong. In her “real life” back in Toronto, it’s easier for Lucy to avoid thinking of Felix as she runs a busy floral shop, working herself into the ground. But when Bridget asks Lucy to come to PEI for an emergency girls’ trip less than two weeks before Bridget is supposed to get married, Lucy drops everything to be there for her best friend. She doesn’t expect to find Felix there, along with feelings that are stronger and more difficult than ever to ignore. Even more than jeopardizing her relationship with Bridget, Lucy is afraid that giving in to her feelings could ruin the life she’s worked so hard to build. Fortune, the author of hits like Every Summer After (2022), gives readers another refreshingly summery story full of angst, romance, and sex scenes aplenty. The PEI setting is a beautiful backdrop for Lucy and Felix’s secret hookups and Lucy’s journey of self-discovery as she learns how to stand on her own two feet as a business owner, friend, and daughter. In addition to frequent (and welcome) Anne of Green Gables references, there are oysters galore and many sandy, windy scenes that transport readers straight to the island.

A steamy, romantic summer read with a charming setting.

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780593638880

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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