Despite some flaws, this is a sweet, romantic confection that will have readers rooting for Sugarberry Island and all of its...


Kit and Morgan each come to Sugarberry Island for a fresh start, and despite some major valid reasons as to why they should keep their distance, they simply can’t get over the feeling that their new lives go together like frosting on a cupcake.

When Kit Bellamy’s sister and brother-in-law blindside her and sell the family company and home out from under her, she knows she needs a new start. A friend sends her in the direction of Sugarberry Island and a job with its local, expanding cupcake empire. Immediately embraced by the women who run the company and their friends (from Kauffman’s ongoing romance series, The Cupcake Club), Kit is swept into the friendly island community, finding friendship and new purpose. She also finds a new romantic interest in the handsome lawyer who’s recently moved to the island himself as the guardian of his orphaned niece. Trouble is, he’s a Westlake, of the wealthy, cutthroat family who strategized the legal battle that caused her to lose her family’s company. It quickly becomes clear that Morgan isn’t a “typical” Westlake, and his protective devotion to his ward is heart-melting, especially when it means standing up to the Westlake family in order to give Lilly a more normal childhood. Kit knows getting involved with a Westlake, any Westlake, is a bad idea, but Morgan believes their attraction is a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon, and he’ll do anything in his power to convince Kit to risk everything again—with him. Throw in a sweet 5-year-old orphan’s obsession with sea turtles and the affectionate, not-so-subtle pressure of the Cupcake Club, and Kit may be up against a tide that’s simply too strong to fight. Kauffman has penned a sweet story that combines a number of engaging elements that give texture and emotional density to the story. While the book lacks breathtaking sexual tension or conversational zing—at times the pacing is sluggish; there are moments we are told of, more than shown, emotional intensity; and some of the characters lack cohesion or dimension (though, to be fair, the cast is large for the story’s length)—overall, it is touching and satisfying in a gentle, heartwarming way.  

Despite some flaws, this is a sweet, romantic confection that will have readers rooting for Sugarberry Island and all of its inhabitants but especially for the star-crossed Kit and Morgan, little Lilly and her turtle friends.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7582-8050-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Brava/Kensington

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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


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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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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