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THE TRUE LOVE EXPERIMENT

Another winning romance from Lauren, full of big laughs, a few tears, and some seriously steamy scenes.

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A reality show brings together a romance author and a documentary producer.

As a bestselling, prolific romance author, Felicity “Fizzy” Chen knows love. Or at least she thought she did…until, in the middle of a commencement speech, she realizes she doesn’t even “remember the last time [she] was genuinely happy.” As she puts it, “the meat of my story—the romance plot, including love and happiness—is one gaping hole.” She stops writing and dating, worried that her lust for life is gone for good. But then she’s contacted by Connor Prince III, a producer for a reality show. He normally works on socially conscious documentaries, but he needs this job so he can stay in San Diego close to his beloved daughter. He wants Fizzy to be the lead in a dating show, one in which the world can watch a woman who usually writes happily-ever-afters fall in love herself. Fizzy has her own list of demands for the show—namely, that each contestant fit a romance-novel archetype (Hot Nerd, Cinnamon Roll, Vampire, etc.). The result is a refreshingly real show that audiences love—but Fizzy’s most intense connection isn’t with any of the contestants. It’s with Connor, and their powerful chemistry threatens to disrupt the show—and both of their lives. The two women who write as Lauren return with yet another pitch-perfect rom-com that manages to be funny, angst-y, and extremely sexy. Fizzy is an exciting and hilarious main character, and Connor is her perfect complement as a love interest. Most importantly, though, the story is a love letter to the romance genre and its many devoted fans. As Fizzy puts it in her commencement speech, romance is “about elevating stories of joy above stories of pain. It is about seeing yourself as the main character in a very interesting—or maybe even quiet—life that is entirely yours to control.” Fizzy’s journey to see herself as the main character of her own life is moving and satisfying.

Another winning romance from Lauren, full of big laughs, a few tears, and some seriously steamy scenes.

Pub Date: May 16, 2023

ISBN: 9781982173432

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 10, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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JUST FOR THE SUMMER

A wallowing, emotionally wrenching family drama that leaves little time for romance.

Two people with bad luck in relationships find each other through a popular Reddit thread.

Emma Grant and her best friend, Maddy, are travel nurses, working at hospitals for three-month stints while they see the country. Just a few weeks before they’re set to move to Hawaii, Emma reads a popular “Am I the Asshole” Reddit thread from a Minnesota man who thinks he’s cursed—women he dates find their soulmates after breaking up with him, and the latest one found true love with his best friend! Emma has had a similar experience, which inspires her to DM the man and commiserate. She’s delighted by her witty, lively interactions with software engineer Justin Dahl, and is intrigued when he suggests that if they date each other, maybe they’ll each find their soulmate afterward. Emma upends the Hawaii plan and convinces Maddy to move to Minneapolis for the summer so she can meet Justin in person. The overly complex setup brings Emma and Justin together and the two hit it off, with Justin immediately falling head over heels for Emma. Jimenez then pivots to creating romantic roadblocks and melodramatic subplots centering on each character’s family of origin. Justin’s mother is about to serve six years in prison for embezzlement, which means Justin must move back home to care for his three much younger siblings. Emma was traumatized by her own mother for much of her childhood, left to fend for herself and eventually abandoned in the foster system. When her mother shows up in Minnesota, Emma must face her traumatic childhood and admit that she has prioritized her mother’s well-being over her own. There is little time devoted to Emma’s painful efforts to heal herself enough to accept Justin’s love, which leaves the novel feeling unsatisfying.

A wallowing, emotionally wrenching family drama that leaves little time for romance.

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781538704431

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Forever

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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