Ray takes her time establishing her characters, including the bad guys, and with a rousing, indelible payoff, it’s well...

Dangerous Denial

In Ray’s debut thriller, lives converge at a charity ball, where someone has planned a deadly act of vengeance.

Beatrice Karen “BK” Hartshaw and Trevor Mayhew have both endured troubling childhoods. BK’s mother blamed her for her father leaving; BK’s uncaring stepfather sent her and her older sister to live with their aunt, and afterward, to a private school. Trevor was beaten on a regular basis by his father, Lenny; he and his grandmother, Beverly, tried to escape the cruel man, but Lenny came looking for them. Years later, BK, working at a PR firm, has organized a charity ball and auction sponsored by her (recently) ex-boyfriend, Max, CEO of his own company. But BK is worried: Her best friend, Shelby, has been stalked by a young man who happens to be named Trevor, who, having been jailed for harassing Shelby, is currently roaming free. And BK is completely unaware of another looming danger: Lenny, methodically plotting his revenge against the son who long ago escaped his wrath. The first half of the novel is a series of shorter stories, focusing first on Lenny in high school as he manipulates a pregnant schoolmate, Gail, into marrying him, and then providing the perspectives of a young BK and Trevor. In the prologue, however, Ray wisely opens her bookat the charity ball, where BK is staring at an armed Lenny. The prologue adds suspense to the story as it slowly builds, particularly in the latter half, to this scene and even includes a bit of mystery, when BK considers what a psychic, hired for the event, has warned her of regarding both herself and Shelby. Though Trevor eventually seems to be the villain, readers will find it difficult not to sympathize with him; his abuse at the hands of Lenny is vicious, and Trevor’s mother is helpless, the narrative insinuating that Lenny keeps her docile with drugs. Shelby is equally sympathetic—she is being stalked, after all—and though BK’s life is bearable when compared with Trevor’s, she suffers from anorexia, courtesy of her mother’s degrading remarks about her weight. The romance between BK and Max, even if it starts late in the story, is convincing and captivating, because the young lady’s eating disorder may have an impact on the relationship.

Ray takes her time establishing her characters, including the bad guys, and with a rousing, indelible payoff, it’s well worth it.

Pub Date: April 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1935460961

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Barking Rain Press

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2014

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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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