A sometimes sedate and other times luminous story of rejuvenating love.

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An unsought, late-in-life love blossoms between two women in Bohan’s quiet gay romance.

When Ellie Belmont, a 65-year-old retired writing teacher, spots 68-year-old, retired psychotherapist Kathryn Kepler in a Minneapolis Starbucks, she experiences the first twinge of desire she’s felt since the death of her wife, Mary, three years before. Kathryn, whose husband recently divorced her to take up with a younger woman, is straight, but that proves no obstacle to their bonding over tea and dirty chai latte—so simpatico are their personalities and outlooks. Their relationship builds very slowly over lunch dates, shopping excursions—in which Kathryn gives the couture-allergic Ellie a style makeover, although both abjure makeup as being unhealthy and unnecessary—and deep, heart-to-heart talks. Along the way, Ellie introduces Kathryn to her circle of gal pals, and Kathryn feels a growing appreciation for Ellie’s “finely sculpted lips” and “long black lashes.” The narrative kicks up a gear when Kathryn tags along on Ellie’s road trip to her niece’s marijuana farm in California to score some illegal cannabis oil for a friend with Lyme disease, with a stop in Yosemite National Park for sightseeing and snowshoeing; in a hotel room, their brewing attraction finally explodes into rapturous passion. They also pay a visit to Kathryn’s daughter, Jenn, a prickly, insecure woman who’s affronted by the fact that her mother is now dating a woman. A more pressing crisis erupts when Ellie and Kathryn are caught in a multicar highway accident.

Despite this, there’s not much overt drama in most of Bohan’s story of second chances and newfound intimacy, which mainly plays out in long conversations that tend toward serious and even grave matters. There’s much talk of coping with caretaking duties, end-of-life arrangements—“Cremation appeals to me more, even though it consumes fossil fuel”—and assisted living options for seniors; on a spiritual note, Ellie recalls Mary’s numinous presence in the house for a few hours after her passing while Kathryn tells of a dream visitation from a departed friend who told her that death is simply a transition to another plane. Ellie introduces Kathryn to lesbian culture, music, and politics, and they discuss gender roles—including Ellie’s resentful opinions regarding “young butch lesbians…becoming transmen” and trans women identifying as lesbians, which Kathryn challenges. Bohan’s prose is refined and psychologically nuanced, but it sometimes feels bloodless, and the couple’s interactions often lack a spark. However, as their relationship deepens and grows more carnal, so does the author’s writing as she explores the wounds and wisdom that accrue to women of a certain age: “She contemplated the sag in her abdomen that all the crunches in the world would not reduce. The creped neck, the fine hatch work around her eyes and mouth. This is what she had to give to Kathryn, bless her….But one day it would all be empty, just as Mary’s clothes had been, and all this all this wonder would be gone.” When Bohan puts her characters’ love to a harder test, it achieves more resonance.

A sometimes sedate and other times luminous story of rejuvenating love.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-65411-087-1

Page Count: 292

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020


A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.

Truth and deception clash in this tale of the Holocaust.

Udo Graf is proud that the Wolf has assigned him the task of expelling all 50,000 Jews from Salonika, Greece. In that city, Nico Krispis is an 11-year-old Jewish boy whose blue eyes and blond hair deceive, but whose words do not. Those who know him know he has never told a lie in his life—“Never be the one to tell lies, Nico,” his grandfather teaches him. “God is always watching.” Udo and Nico meet, and Udo decides to exploit the child’s innocence. At the train station where Jews are being jammed into cattle cars bound for Auschwitz, Udo gives Nico a yellow star to wear and persuades him to whisper among the crowd, “I heard it from a German officer. They are sending us to Poland. We will have new homes. And jobs.” The lad doesn’t know any better, so he helps persuade reluctant Jews to board the train to hell. “You were a good little liar,” Udo later tells Nico, and delights in the prospect of breaking the boy’s spirit, which is more fun and a greater challenge than killing him outright. When Nico realizes the horrific nature of what he's done, his truth-telling days are over. He becomes an inveterate liar about everything. Narrating the story is the Angel of Truth, whom according to a parable God had cast out of heaven and onto earth, where Truth shattered into billions of pieces, each to lodge in a human heart. (Obviously, many hearts have been missed.) Truth skillfully weaves together the characters, including Nico; his brother, Sebastian; Sebastian’s wife, Fannie; and the “heartless deceiver” Udo. Events extend for decades beyond World War II, until everyone’s lives finally collide in dramatic fashion. As Truth readily acknowledges, his account is loaded with twists and turns, some fortuitous and others not. Will Nico Krispis ever seek redemption? And will he find it? Author Albom’s passion shows through on every page in this well-crafted novel.

A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2023

ISBN: 9780062406651

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023


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

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 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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