A complex and engrossing family tale with strong characters.

THE LAST MOON BEFORE HOME

From the Moon Trilogy series , Vol. 2

This sequel revisits a troubled family as it wrestles with love in all its beautiful and terrible forms.

The novel begins in 1973. Noël Trudeau, ex-wife of Leon Ziemny, is pregnant. Against her doctor’s dire warning, she gives birth to a daughter, Willow, and dies. Fast-forward to the late ’90s. Armed with her mother’s diary, Willow is determined to probe her past. She embarks on a trip that takes her to her mother’s grave in Willow, Ohio, and then to the Ziemnys, still in the steel town of Langston, Indiana. Old Walt Ziemny is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, but the disease soon starts moving fast. His son Ricky, an artist, never married after Noël wed Leon instead of him. That union imploded, and Leon and his second wife, Stella, have, for over 25 years, been in a marriage that died long ago. Then Willow shows up, claiming that Noël was her aunt while she tries to figure things out, test the waters. Slowly, she becomes accepted even if she is still a mystery. Eventually, an important family secret is revealed. Like the author’s previous novel, The Moonstoners (2019),this second volume of a trilogy shows Dzikowski to be a very sensitive observer and writer. Even though the old Polish neighborhood in Langston is changing, the author paints a loving picture of the area, anchored by the parish church and Walt’s tavern, the Mazurka Inn. There are no missteps here, and there are wonderful character studies, especially of Walt and Leon. Walt was the only one to accept Noël from the get-go. Now, his Alzheimer’s is painful for the whole family (and clearly Dzikowski knows a lot about the condition). Leon has always been locked up tight, pushing people away, and readers will want to scream at him, shake him. Willow could be his salvation. He ultimately begins a new life—a better life for a better man. Because everything has been so hard won, the final peace is all the sweeter. Readers will be eagerly awaiting the author’s next installment.

A complex and engrossing family tale with strong characters.

Pub Date: June 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-9840305-6-9

Page Count: 302

Publisher: Wiara Books

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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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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A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

THE BOARDWALK BOOKSHOP

Three woman who join together to rent a large space along the beach in Los Angeles for their stores—a gift shop, a bakery, and a bookstore—become fast friends as they each experience the highs, and lows, of love.

Bree is a friendly but standoffish bookstore owner who keeps everyone she knows at arm’s length, from guys she meets in bars to her friends. Mikki is a settled-in-her-routines divorced mother of two, happily a mom, gift-shop owner, and co-parent with her ex-husband, Perry. And Ashley is a young, very-much-in-love bakery owner specializing in muffins who devotes herself to giving back to the community through a nonprofit that helps community members develop skills and find jobs. When the women meet drooling over a boardwalk storefront that none of them can afford on her own, a plan is hatched to divide the space in three, and a friendship—and business partnership—is born. An impromptu celebration on the beach at sunset with champagne becomes a weekly touchpoint to their lives as they learn more about each other and themselves. Their friendship blossoms as they help each other, offering support, hard truths, and loving backup. Author Mallery has created a delightful story of friendship between three women that also offers a variety of love stories as they fall in love, make mistakes, and figure out how to be the best—albeit still flawed—versions of themselves. The men are similarly flawed and human. While the story comes down clearly on the side of all-encompassing love, Mallery has struck a careful balance: There is just enough sex to be spicy, just enough swearing to be naughty, and just enough heartbreak to avoid being cloying.

A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-778-38608-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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