TAILWINDS PAST FLORENCE

Travel, both conventional and through time, brings rousing action, romance, and unorthodox marriage counseling.

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A bicycling trip around the world remains a beleaguered couple’s last chance to save their marriage from boredom, deceit, and time-traveling lovers from the past.

In this novel, Edward and Kara Vaughan are a Seattle couple nearing age 30 and married for almost six years. Their existence has already devolved into a monotonous routine, complete with a room of “forgotten hobbies” and a dwindling sex life. About to hand her husband divorce papers, Kara is shocked when he proposes they take the journey she’s long dreamed about—cycling around the world. She sees this as a chance to rekindle their relationship, but the impetus for Edward, a workaholic businessman, is merely the unceremonious way he quit his job after being passed up for a promotion. The last-minute trip begins with them struggling against the Montana winter, but what they later encounter on their odyssey poses a more unusual challenge. Accompanied by a strange blue shimmer are lovelorn anachronisms thrust into the present day, time travelers connected to Kara’s and Edward’s past lives. Some seem content that Kara has moved beyond them. But a religious pickpocket and forger from the Renaissance era named Alessio is not ready to let her go, leading to a showdown in Florence with Edward for Kara’s love or, barring that, her life. Walsh, a veteran of video game strategy guides, imbues his romance with as much action as any game he’s ever peeled back the secrets of. With the settings ranging from Washington state and Canada to London, Belgium, Paris, and, eventually, Italy, the novel captures the intense details of the trip, including the couple’s chafing thighs and exhaustion on their bikes; their emotionally heightened fights and sniping; and their moments of romantic rejuvenation in new, exotic surroundings. Despite his unwillingness to acquiesce like his fellow reincarnated brethren, Alessio is a sympathetic villain, driven by the same unrelenting pride and fear as Edward, a fitting physical obstacle for the couple to overcome if they wish to break the pattern of heartbreak. The book boasts an impressive knowledge of cycling as well as the history it draws from, be it Renaissance Italy or the time of the French Canadian voyageurs, a pleasant balance to its more outlandish conflicts.

Travel, both conventional and through time, brings rousing action, romance, and unorthodox marriage counseling.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73274-670-1

Page Count: 338

Publisher: Snoke Valley Books

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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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

FANGIRL DOWN

This golf romance is a winner.

A professional golfer trying to make a comeback hires his biggest fan to be his caddy.

Despondent and demoralized at his terrible season, professional golfer Wells Whitaker decides to quit the pro circuit. He’s already been dumped by his mentor, his sponsors, and his agent—why not throw in the towel himself? The only person left on his side is Josephine Doyle, his most devoted fan, a woman so dedicated to his career that she’s given herself the moniker “Wells’s Belle.” Josephine has been following the golfer’s career for years, and she can’t help but feel betrayed when he abandons the game. After a hurricane destroys her family’s Palm Beach pro shop, Josephine is surprised to find Wells at her door. He’s had a change of heart and is determined to give himself one last chance on the pro circuit. Wells has secured a spot at an upcoming tournament in San Antonio and wants Josephine to be his caddy. She can’t say no. The money she earns will allow her to rebuild the shop and afford health insurance, which is crucial for managing her diabetes. Once they’re at the tournament, their obvious camaraderie and their chemistry make them the target of gossip and speculation in the press. Wells feels intensely possessive and protective of Josephine while still respecting her autonomy, and Josephine learns that her faith in him was not misplaced. Although several of the initial plot pieces feel manufactured, the emotional connection between Josephine and Wells is vibrant and alive. They fit together perfectly, with each growing and benefiting from their professional and romantic partnership. Bailey delivers her trademark high-heat, spicy romance, but it’s the emotional connection between Wells and Josephine that makes the book a winner.

This golf romance is a winner.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2024

ISBN: 9780063308367

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023

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