A tightly knit story about a mother’s loss that too often veers into melodrama.

TEA BY THE SEA

A young mother goes on a quest to track down the father of her child, who abducted their baby daughter shortly after her birth.

When Plum Valentine is in high school in Brooklyn, her immigrant parents plan a seemingly routine visit to their native Jamaica. Once there, however, the parents insist that Plum stay behind, leaving her at a strict boarding school to keep her from getting into trouble. As it turns out, trouble manages to find the pretty 17-year-old anyway. After Lenworth, a 25-year-old chemistry lab assistant, tutors Plum, the two end up having an illicit relationship. As the novel opens, Plum is in the hospital, recovering from having given birth to their daughter, when she discovers that Lenworth has abducted the baby. Plum realizes she has been abandoned yet again. But that pain pales in comparison to the yawning emptiness she experiences at the loss of her child. Traveling back to Brooklyn, Plum tries to set her life back on a path to normalcy. Determined to find her daughter, however, she sets off repeatedly, over the course of more than a decade, to track her ex-lover and their little girl. Hemans delivers a cat-and-mouse chase that brings Plum back to Jamaica over and over again even as she leads a parallel life in the United States. The taut storyline sacrifices character development with the net result that both Plum and Lenworth come across as caricatures, their motivations and desires one-dimensional and murky till the end. Lenworth’s sudden embrace of spirituality as he realizes his profound error of judgment also feels forced. By concentrating mostly on the minutiae of the chase, the narrative misses mining the deeper emotional range it could have achieved had it addressed Plum’s grief with more nuance.

A tightly knit story about a mother’s loss that too often veers into melodrama.

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59709-845-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Red Hen Press

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

THE BOARDWALK BOOKSHOP

Three woman who join together to rent a large space along the beach in Los Angeles for their stores—a gift shop, a bakery, and a bookstore—become fast friends as they each experience the highs, and lows, of love.

Bree is a friendly but standoffish bookstore owner who keeps everyone she knows at arm’s length, from guys she meets in bars to her friends. Mikki is a settled-in-her-routines divorced mother of two, happily a mom, gift-shop owner, and co-parent with her ex-husband, Perry. And Ashley is a young, very-much-in-love bakery owner specializing in muffins who devotes herself to giving back to the community through a nonprofit that helps community members develop skills and find jobs. When the women meet drooling over a boardwalk storefront that none of them can afford on her own, a plan is hatched to divide the space in three, and a friendship—and business partnership—is born. An impromptu celebration on the beach at sunset with champagne becomes a weekly touchpoint to their lives as they learn more about each other and themselves. Their friendship blossoms as they help each other, offering support, hard truths, and loving backup. Author Mallery has created a delightful story of friendship between three women that also offers a variety of love stories as they fall in love, make mistakes, and figure out how to be the best—albeit still flawed—versions of themselves. The men are similarly flawed and human. While the story comes down clearly on the side of all-encompassing love, Mallery has struck a careful balance: There is just enough sex to be spicy, just enough swearing to be naughty, and just enough heartbreak to avoid being cloying.

A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-778-38608-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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