HIDDEN

An accidental death leads to secrets revealed and second thoughts expressed in McKenzie’s latest (Forgotten, 2012, etc.).

Jeff Manning is fatally struck by a car when he decides to walk home after firing yet another hapless co-worker at the odious management consultant–dominated company in which he is a reluctantly rising executive. His wife, Claire, is devastated even though it’s clear from her very first monologue—as she anxiously wonders why Jeff is late—that there are simmering tensions in the marriage. They might have something to do with Tish, who works in HR for the same company; though she and Jeff are at branches in different towns, they’ve developed a warm email relationship since meeting at a corporate retreat. But it could also be the fact that Claire was once the girlfriend of Jeff’s older brother, Tim, or that she’s been emotionally distant ever since she lost a baby four years ago, when their son Seth was 8. Readers learn all this, as well as about Tish’s saintly doctor-husband, Brian, and their supersmart 11-year-old daughter, Zoey, via first-person narratives by Claire, Tish—and Jeff, which is odd, since he gets killed on Page 8. In straightforward, realistic fiction like this, a dead narrator should really be explained, but McKenzie simply plows ahead, developing her story via three points of view that follow each other in the same order for the entire novel, adding to the already heavy sense of predictability. The aggravations of corporate life, the compromises and disappointments inherent in long marriages, the processes of grieving are all depicted with reasonable insight, but there’s little new here, and what plot development there is may give readers a sense of being jerked around: Zoey faints, twice, but it’s just stress; Claire and Tim kiss and Jeff sees them, but when Claire tells him nothing else happened, he believes her. The “truth” about Jeff and Tish’s relationship comes much too late and isn’t much of a revelation.

Readable and forgettable.

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-26497-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Amazon/New Harvest

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

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MAYBE SOMEDAY

Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson. 

Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty. 

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5316-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

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The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

REGRETTING YOU

When tragedy strikes, a mother and daughter forge a new life.

Morgan felt obligated to marry her high school sweetheart, Chris, when she got pregnant with their daughter, Clara. But she secretly got along much better with Chris’ thoughtful best friend, Jonah, who was dating her sister, Jenny. Now her life as a stay-at-home parent has left her feeling empty but not ungrateful for what she has. Jonah and Jenny eventually broke up, but years later they had a one-night stand and Jenny got pregnant with their son, Elijah. Now Jonah is back in town, engaged to Jenny, and working at the local high school as Clara’s teacher. Clara dreams of being an actress and has a crush on Miller, who plans to go to film school, but her father doesn't approve. It doesn’t help that Miller already has a jealous girlfriend who stalks him via text from college. But Clara and Morgan’s home life changes radically when Chris and Jenny are killed in an accident, revealing long-buried secrets and forcing Morgan to reevaluate the life she chose when early motherhood forced her hand. Feeling betrayed by the adults in her life, Clara marches forward, acting both responsible and rebellious as she navigates her teenage years without her father and her aunt, while Jonah and Morgan's relationship evolves in the wake of the accident. Front-loaded with drama, the story leaves plenty of room for the mother and daughter to unpack their feelings and decide what’s next.

The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1642-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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