A fine blend of genres with an engaging protagonist.

TILL MY LAST BREATH

From the Desert Hills Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A Western time-travel romance in which a woman goes back in time to save a handsome gambler.

In 1880 Arizona, Caleb Young is gambling with a few friendly men in a saloon when a suspicious stranger walks in and asks to join them. When the stranger obviously cheats, Caleb calls him out on it, and the man reacts poorly by drawing his gun. Caleb does, too, and the altercation ends with the stranger dead. Caleb leaves town, finding a run-down cabin in the middle of nowhere to hide, but a mysterious figure finds and shoots him, leaving him for dead. In 2019 Seattle, Dr. Emily Sweeney is just starting her trauma-center shift when she hears gunshots coming from the waiting room. She runs toward the scene and gets shot while attempting to help. Emily never wakes up—at least, not in her own body or in her own time. She has a vision of an older gentleman who claims to be her great-great-grandfather and says that he has a gift for her. Emily then wakes up dressed in strange clothing, some 200 feet from a cabin where more gunshots ring out. Soon, she finds a half-dead Arizonan bleeding out. It’s clear that Emily and Caleb are inexplicably connected and potentially in danger. Over the course of this novel, Swenson presents a story that not only flows through different eras with ease, but also through different genres with equal facility. The narrative is solidly paced and displays the author’s gift for salient detail, and the chronology moves forward and backward, as necessary, to provide readers with the full story without ever sacrificing clarity along the way. The characters feel fully fleshed-out and genuine; readers will be particularly intrigued by Emily’s modern perspective on a time and place that’s very different from her own.

A fine blend of genres with an engaging protagonist.

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-09-833571-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2021

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

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

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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

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