by Alexander McCall Smith ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 4, 2017
McCall Smith knows how to concoct delightful fictions, but this one is undercooked.
McCall Smith (Chance Developments, 2016, etc.) adds to the overworked subgenre of Tuscan travel romance with this pallid story about a Scottish cookery writer recovering from his broken heart in Italy.
Paul has published nine wildly successful books about food and wine under the tutelage of his “freelance editor” Gloria, who may harbor but doesn’t quite express deeper than professional feelings for him. This is a contemporary novel, and Paul, whose decency and sensitivity McCall Smith frequently touts, is only supposed to be 36, but his reticence, especially concerning sex, and the mildly witty, buttoned-down dialogue make both character and time frame seem much older—think 1930s Fred Astaire sidekick. After Paul’s girlfriend, Becky, dumps him for her personal trainer (the first of many oh please! moments in a novel rife with clichés) and Paul falls apart, Gloria suggests he take a trip to Tuscany to finish up his book on the Tuscan lifestyle. Arriving in Pisa, he faces a series of unfortunate events one would think an experienced travel writer would manage more handily. Victimized by stereotypically hot-tempered, conceited, and larcenous Italians, he’s left without transportation to his destination, the small village of Montalcino, and even lands briefly in jail until the equally stereotypical, charming Italian “cavaliere” whom Paul met on the flight over bails him out and finds a vehicle for him to drive: a bulldozer. That bulldozer also more or less drives the plot, allowing Paul to meet charming American art historian Anna when he pulls her car out of a ditch and involving him, however unknowingly, in several escapades involving Montalcino villagers. Soon romantic complications set in: Paul thinks he’s in love with Anna but she has a male friend coming to visit; Becky shows up to apologize, followed for reasons that remain vague by Gloria. Montalcino, of course, is full of natural beauty, ruined buildings, salt-of-the-earth if charming connivers, and underappreciated wine.McCall Smith knows how to concoct delightful fictions, but this one is undercooked.
Pub Date: April 4, 2017
Page Count: 240
Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017
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by Colleen Hoover ‧ RELEASE DATE: Aug. 2, 2016
Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
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
Page Count: 320
Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016
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by Nora Roberts ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 16, 2013
A sweet, sexy romance with an intriguing historical family mystery that bleeds into a modern-day crime spree, casting...
A year after his wife was murdered, Eli Landon is leaving Boston for a fresh start in his family’s coastal ancestral home, possibly with Abra, the beautiful housekeeper he meets there who is determined to help him clear his name and reclaim his life.
Former defense attorney Eli Landon has lived under a cloud of suspicion since he found his murdered wife in their shared home on the same day they’d publicly argued over their impending divorce and her ongoing affair. While no charges have been brought against him, a dogged police detective has hounded him to the point of harassment, and he’s lost his job, most of his friends and his sense of place in the world. Moving into his family’s historical estate on Whiskey Beach to take care of the house while his grandmother heals from an accident in Boston, Eli devotes his energies to expanding a modestly successful writing career, attempting to write a novel. Meeting Abra, a local part-time housekeeper/massage therapist/yoga instructor/jewelry designer/waitress is an unexpected bonus, especially when she brings her healing energy to Eli’s wounded spirit. But something is not right at the homestead, and a string of accidents and crimes follows Eli to the coast. The longer he stays, and the closer he grows to Abra, the more convinced he is that in order to find peace and have a chance for happiness, he’ll need to fight back, solve an ancient family mystery and figure out who murdered his wife. Roberts brings her inimitably smooth writing skill, excellent characterization and textured plotting to her newest romantic suspense, which plays out as much a character drama with suspense elements as a crime procedural, since the buildup to and motive for the crimes is fairly languidly paced, though compelling.A sweet, sexy romance with an intriguing historical family mystery that bleeds into a modern-day crime spree, casting suspicion on an innocent man.
Pub Date: April 16, 2013
Page Count: 496
Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013
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