Conflict without character development leads to an unconvincing romance.


A vampire living a quiet country life saves a young woman and battles an old foe.

Centuries-old vampire Roan Cabrera lives as an unthreatening gentleman in a small English village in 1867. Rather than hunt and kill his prey, Roan quenches his thirst by feeding off hospital patients, lulling them into complacency by showing them the happiest minutes of their lives. Roan can read minds, turn into a wolf, and will himself anywhere; but disappointingly, the only nod Ashley (Twilight Desires, 2018, etc.) makes toward worldbuilding is labeling Roan’s special skills as “vampire magic.” Enter Kathryn Winterbourne, a young woman who fled her home after unwanted attention from her abusive stepfather. Kathryn is struggling to make it on her own when she is hit by a carriage and left for dead. After finding her, Roan feels an unexpected flare of attraction and decides to save her life. From there, the plot takes several inexplicable turns. Roan moves Kathryn into his home and hires a driver for her, but she never wonders what he might expect in exchange. Meanwhile, Roan realizes Pascual, a fellow vampire and old enemy, is hunting villagers in his territory. Roan actively searches for Pascual while Kathryn placidly whiles her days away reading, gardening, and ignoring her suspicions about why Roan only appears at night. The romance between them is dull and listless. Kathryn is a thinly developed character without agency, existing to be a love interest for Roan and a pawn for Pascual. The plot chugs along relentlessly, but no matter how dramatic the problem, Roan effortlessly solves it. The end result is that both Roan and Kathryn are strangely static characters; they say they’re in love but readers won’t be convinced.

Conflict without character development leads to an unconvincing romance.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4201-4739-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Zebra/Kensington

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 46

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • 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

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...


An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

Did you like this book?