A snappy tale with sweet undertones.

Mixed Signals

When Jillian Atwood gets dumped by her fiance, their breakup and dating others becomes fodder for his sports radio talk show in this romance novel.

Boston-based marketing writer Jillian Atwood, 34, is in shock and denial. Nico, her boyfriend of six years, just broke up with her shortly after finally popping the question. She avoids telling anyone the news, including the rest of her family, now all based in Atlanta, and her co-workers. Soon, however, the cat is out the bag: getting a new girlfriend for Nico becomes a hot topic for the hosts of BS Morning Sports Talk, the radio show that Nico produces. He starts publicly mocking Jillian on his show when her best friend seemingly snoops on his first date, and Jillian herself makes an unfavorable call while reffing a tennis championship match involving Nico’s colleague. Despite his bad behavior, Jillian still wants Nico back, but she finally tries online dating. This prompts a surprising response from Ben, her Bradley Cooper–look-alike co-worker who always has different girlfriends. By novel’s end, all parties may decide they need to grow up. Barnes (Waiting for Ethan, 2015) has written another charming, funny romance that keeps its plot rolling while capturing workplace dynamics. Another plus: secondary characters aren’t afterthoughts. Jillian’s elderly landlord, for example, not only provides terse caustic commentary on Nico but is also a touching example of enduring love. Barnes gives readers psychological insight into her heroine, including her fear of change. A final misunderstanding seems forced, but overall, this novel is an entertaining, fulfilling read.

A snappy tale with sweet undertones.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61650-791-6

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Lyrical Shine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2016

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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