THE DILEMMA

An all-encompassing, tightly plotted novel of psychological suspense.

A woman plans—and experiences—the long-awaited 40th birthday party of her dreams. But to ensure the party is a success, both she and her husband have decided to keep unexpected news from each other that will derail their lives.

Neither Livia nor her husband, Adam, are perfect. Over the decades of their marriage they have both hurt each other, but despite this, they still love each other. Married quickly in a registry office as teens because of Livia’s unexpected pregnancy, their planned futures derailed 23 years ago as parenthood and manual labor replaced their individuality and chances to go to university. Because her dreamed-for over-the-top wedding didn’t take place, Livia began saving money to have the perfect 40th birthday party as a substitute. But 20 years into the planning and six weeks before the party she finds out something she fears will end the comfortable life she and Adam have established with their two grown children, Josh and Marnie. So she decides to keep it a secret until the party is over. And the day of the party, Adam finds out something devastating that could not only destroy their lives if it is true, but could also needlessly ruin the party Livia has been planning for so long if it isn’t. So he decides to keep quiet until after the party. This is a novel told almost entirely in hourlong chunks during the course of that day, alternating between Livia's and Adam’s points of view. Author Paris grapples with the question of whether it's love or selfishness that keeps half of a couple from sharing bad news immediately with the other half and whether or not it's deceptive to do so. While the complicated, interlocking nature of Livia and Adam’s social circle might present an overwhelming amount of detail to absorb at the start of the book, clarity comes quickly and is crucial to understanding the story.

An all-encompassing, tightly plotted novel of psychological suspense.

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-15136-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

GIRL ABROAD

A spicy novel that’s a must-read for fans of a British accent.

A rock star’s daughter decides to study abroad in search of her own experiences, finding romance and intrigue along the way.

For 19-year-old Abbey Bly, having a rock star for a father isn’t as glamorous as it seems. For one thing, she shares her name with Abbey Road, and for another, the only version of the famous Gunner Bly she knows is the helicopter parent she lives with in Nashville. Hoping to find her way outside her father’s sphere of influence, Abbey decides to spend a semester in London studying European history at Pembridge University. Promising to keep her father updated on every aspect of life abroad, Abbey heads to her shared apartment expecting to find three female roommates…only to find that she’s actually living with three men. Afraid that Gunner will order her home, Abbey decides to keep Lee, Jack, and Jamie’s gender a secret (lucky their names sound androgynous!) and sets her sights on adventure. While working on a research project about a mysterious painting and adapting to Britain’s drinking culture, Abbey finds time to explore a little romance despite her housemates’ strict no-fraternizing rule. First there’s Jack, a commitment-phobic Australian hottie who can’t seem to stay away from Abbey; then there’s Nate, a sexy bassist who keeps forgetting he’s taken. Toying with nonexclusive relationships and exploring her sexuality, Abbey can’t help but feel excited about all the experience she’s gaining, but has she really, truly found herself? Kennedy’s novel is a page-turner—who wouldn’t want to travel to a foreign country and meet interested potential lovers down the hall? Abbey is a relatable character who yearns to stand outside her father’s shadow, and though the love triangle is a focal point, it never outshines the heroine’s growth.

A spicy novel that’s a must-read for fans of a British accent.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2024

ISBN: 9781728299792

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Bloom Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

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