An emotionally dramatic but ultimately lightweight romance.

THE RETURN OF THE SCOUNDREL

In this historical sequel to Love’s Dance (2017), set at the end of the 19th century, a ruthless convict escapes prison and seeks revenge against the woman who put him there. 

After Bridger Crandall’s illegal financial scheme was exposed by wealthy heiress Maggie Lenihan, he unsuccessfully attempted to murder her, which landed him in the Colorado State Penitentiary for 25 years. Seven years into that sentence, in 1887, Bridger escapes and starts a new life under the name “Richard Rutledge,” working for Sloan Talbott, a successful prospector in Leadville, Colorado. That town is dangerously close to the ranch outside Greeley where Maggie now makes a home with her husband, Garret Blackstone. Bridger is hungry for vengeance, and he serendipitously finds an opportunity to get it: Joseph Bainbridge, an affluent businessman, has hired Sloan’s sister, Libby, as a teacher in Greeley, and she’s moved in with Maggie and Garret. Bridger uses his considerable charm to coax information out of Libby; she’s soon infatuated with him and unsuspecting of his motives, which allows him to freely pursue his plans. Meanwhile, the warm friendliness of the wealthy, handsome, and single Bainbridge piques Libby’s interest. Then Maggie, who’s expecting her second child, finds out that Bridger is on the loose, and she can only anxiously wait to see what he intends to do—and Creek poignantly depicts her fright. The novel as a whole, like its predecessor, brims with intrigue, suspense, and romance, and the author effectively presents all of these elements in a propulsive plot that never loses steam. Creek seems to be aiming to explore the malevolence of which man is capable, but the earnest, companionable prose isn’t especially well-suited to this ambitious task. Although there’s a surfeit of drama here, it lacks a sense of grittiness, overall. One can enjoy this story without reading its predecessor, but it will likely be a less fulfilling experience than reading both books in sequence. 

An emotionally dramatic but ultimately lightweight romance.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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

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IT ENDS WITH US

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

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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