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

A LIGHT ON ALTERED LAND

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 100

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 36

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more