Despite a few flaws, an engaging tale about a confused young man settling into adulthood.


A young man becomes desperate for female companionship and repeatedly sets his sights on the wrong women in this novel.

Peter Michael Webb is thrilled to be attending the elite Stepney Green College as a transfer student. Raised by a single mother of modest means, Pete struggles to fit in with all the rich kids at his new school and only finds a couple of friends. The story opens as Pete daydreams about his recent obsession, a female student named Brandi Sparks. After taking her on a couple of dates, Pete overhears Brandi mocking his impecuniousness, and then watches her fall into the arms of his friend Todd Galloway. Pete thus finishes school in the company of his only remaining cohort, Corinne Aldrich, who seems to have feelings for him that are more than friendly. Reluctant to ruin their friendship, Pete focuses instead on chasing his career goals and discovering love elsewhere. Following graduation, he moves back to his hometown to get a job and work on his novel. As he deals with his own dysfunctional family, Pete does achieve some professional success. His accomplishments bring with them increased opportunities for finding dates, but he begins to wonder what exactly he’s striving for and whether any of the women he pursued was ever right for him. While many of the women in Hamilton’s story are portrayed in a negative light, so are multiple male characters, who prove themselves to be unreliable backstabbers. But Pete is so earnest and naïve that readers will find themselves rooting for him. Told in the third person, the book shifts between the perspectives of Pete, his friends, and his family in a manner that leads to a sometimes choppy narrative. The novel also suffers from its use of old-fashioned language and actions. College students frequently employ outdated phrases and terminology, and cellphones barely appear (and even then, text messages are formal and lengthy). These anachronisms lead the work to read more like historical fiction from the 1960s or ’70s. Even so, the author manages to create intriguing characters with complicated interior worlds. While the ending is somewhat predictable, the journey to the story’s conclusion is ultimately satisfying.

Despite a few flaws, an engaging tale about a confused young man settling into adulthood.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72835-091-2

Page Count: 344

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2020

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.


When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.


The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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