A refreshingly nonjudgmental look at opening one’s marriage and heart.

UP FOR AIR

A married writer embarks on a polyamorous journey in this novel.

Ariana “Ari” Goody Hendricks has always done the right thing. Married to her sweetheart, Greg, whom she met at age 17, the 29-year-old freelance writer and published author lives with him in Austin, Texas—with their mutual best friend, bad boy musician Jacob “Jake” Mitchell, close by. Jake affectionately calls Ari “Goody Two Shoes.” When Greg’s grandfather’s funeral beckons the trio back to their East Tennessee roots, Ari begins to wonder whether she’s truly lived: She’s never been drunk or smoked a cigarette and, more significantly, has only emotionally and physically been with her husband. Ari broaches the idea of an open marriage to Greg once they return to Austin, and he agrees on the condition that their union “close” again if anything goes sideways. Over the next several months, Ari explores her city’s vibrant bar scene and finds a fun-loving friend in roller derby star Sheryl while enjoying passionate flings with a variety of men. But there’s one man Ari can never get out of her mind: kind and steady Alex, whom Ari met her first night at the bars and never saw again. When Alex reappears in Ari’s life and introduces her to a new world of kinky sex, the two quickly form a deeper connection that may demand more than the occasional one-night stand. Berry gives each character, from inquisitive hero Ari to protective Jake to questioning Greg, their own nuanced, complex motivations that inform their actions, and she pens sex scenes that are both titillating and (even those that involve BDSM) romantic. The love between Ari and Greg and the platonic friendship between Ari and Jake are strong and steady even as the relationships grow and change. But the novel’s greatest strength is its informed and compassionate portrayal of polyamory, from the necessary communication to the glow of newly forged connections to the realization that relationships old and new may be headed down an unexpected path.

A refreshingly nonjudgmental look at opening one’s marriage and heart.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68433-632-6

Page Count: 298

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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IT STARTS WITH US

The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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