Pleasant enough but curiously dull, with few surprises and little suspense. Best for those greatly devoted to love stories...

ELEANOR & ABEL

Love among the geezers, rather staidly told but touching nonetheless, by Texas author Sanford (Crossing Shattuck Bridge, 1999, etc.).

Eleanor Bannister, 69, is a recently retired schoolteacher who remembers practically everyone in her small hometown of Grover, Texas, from the days when they struggled through the alphabet in her classroom. It’s like a maternity of sorts, and it seems to have saved the single and childless Eleanor from the fussy eccentricities so often associated with spinsterhood. But Eleanor is an Old Maid all the same, and the rhythms of her life—church on Sunday, gossip with her friend Grace, corn flakes for dinner—suggest a familiar solitude that expects no further surprises from life. Eleanor is unprepared, then, for the arrival of Abel Brown, an itinerant 70-year-old carpenter who lives in a trailer and shows up at the door one day asking Eleanor to rent him the rundown cottage she owns across town. When she refuses (on the grounds that she’s planning to sell it), Abel promptly offers to fix it up for her so that she can get a better price. It’s less trouble to agree with Abel than to argue with him, so Eleanor does—and begins a new and wholly unexpected friendship that soon blossoms into romance. By the time Abel has finished the repairs, he and Eleanor are deeply in love. What’s to stop them from getting married? Nothing at all—although the arrival of Abel’s ten-year-old granddaughter (who comes to stay with him while her mother goes looking for her errant husband) complicates things a bit. But Eleanor takes in both Abel and the girl and sets up something she has never had since her parents died—a home.

Pleasant enough but curiously dull, with few surprises and little suspense. Best for those greatly devoted to love stories in the Bridges of Madison County vein.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 1-58243-273-2

Page Count: 188

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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

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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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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