A well-written, well-paced novel that unfolds slowly, hinting at the events that broke apart a young woman's life.

LADY SUNSHINE

After she unexpectedly inherits a remote Northern California coastal estate that once belonged to her musician uncle, a woman in her late 30s must make peace with the memories of her lost family.

In the summer of 1979, Jackie is an angry teenager. She hates her private school, the fellow students who call her Supertramp, her father’s new wife, and the fact that her new stepmother is besotted with purchasing everything for her in various cheerful shades of yellow. When her father and stepmother decide on a belated summerlong European honeymoon, Jackie makes a push to stay with her uncle Graham, Aunt Angela, and cousin Willa at the Sandcastle, their rambling Northern California estate, where musicians and their families come and go. Once she arrives, she realizes that her godlike uncle, a once-famous folk musician, is the sun around which all the people in his life orbit. In 1999, Jackie is once again at the estate, clearing out the house and its many cabins after unexpectedly inheriting it from her aunt. No longer angry, Jackie is an elementary school music teacher in Boston. She's devoted to her students, but she's walled herself off emotionally from everyone else, including her fiance, Paul. Much like that idyllic summer of 1979, in the summer of '99, the estate is full of musicians and people and laughter, as music producer Shane Ingram, a friend of Angela’s, records a new album of Graham’s unpublished work in his legendary basement studio. Author Doan has created a story that is half set in each world as Jackie clears out the house for sale in 1999 while working through her memories of the one idyllic summer she spent drenched in love, happiness, and sunlight before everything went very wrong. Doan’s descriptions of the rugged landscape in Humboldt County create a visually rich backdrop for her characters to inhabit.

A well-written, well-paced novel that unfolds slowly, hinting at the events that broke apart a young woman's life.

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-525-80467-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Graydon House

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

THE SUMMER PLACE

When a family convenes at their Cape Cod summer home for a wedding, old secrets threaten to ruin everything.

Sarah Danhauser is shocked when her beloved stepdaughter announces her engagement to her boyfriend, Gabe. After all, Ruby’s only 22, and Sarah suspects that their relationship was fast-tracked because of the time they spent together in quarantine during the early days of the pandemic. Sarah’s mother, Veronica, is thrilled, mostly because she longs to have the entire family together for one last celebration before she puts their Cape Cod summer house on the market. But getting to Ruby and Gabe’s wedding might prove more difficult than anyone thought. Sarah can’t figure out why her husband, Eli, has been so distant and distracted ever since Ruby moved home to Park Slope (bringing Gabe with her), and she's afraid he may be having an affair. Veronica is afraid that a long-ago dalliance might come back to bite her. Ruby isn’t sure how to process the conflicting feelings she’s having about her upcoming nuptials. And Sam, Sarah’s twin brother, is a recent widower who’s dealing with some pretty big romantic confusion. As the entire extended family, along with Gabe’s relatives, converges on the summer house, secrets become impossible to keep, and it quickly becomes clear that this might not be the perfect gathering Veronica was envisioning. If they make it to the wedding, will their family survive the aftermath? Weiner creates a story with all the misunderstandings and miscommunications of a screwball comedy or a Shakespeare play (think A Midsummer Night’s Dream). But the surprising, over-the-top actions of the characters are grounded by a realistic and moving look at grief and ambition (particularly for Sarah and Veronica, both of whom give up demanding creative careers early on). At times the flashbacks can slow down the story, but even when the characters are lying, cheating, and hiding from each other, they still seem like a real and loving family.

An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3357-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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