Die-hard fans might argue this gives us something new, but it doesn’t—and it's boring.

GREY

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY AS TOLD BY CHRISTIAN

Fifty Shades of Grey, from Christian’s perspective.

Anastasia "Ana" Steele stumbles into billionaire Christian Grey's office and clambers her way into his heart despite his need for domination and her need for self-preservation. As James promised her readers, this book tells the now well-known story from Christian's point of view, which means that large swathes of the original novel featuring contact between Ana and Christian—conversations, emails, and the infamous "binding contract between the Dominant and the Submissive"—are essentially copied and pasted into this one, with Ana's first-person narration taken out and replaced by Christian's. What's surprising is how distant and hazy Ana feels, considering how Christian jumped off the pages of the original and how James made us feel connected to his struggles as seen from Ana's perspective. Christian is tortured and enigmatic, which was one of the strengths of Fifty Shades, but his narration lacks subtlety and insight. He continually simplifies his attraction to Ana, referring to her as hot or sexy and saying he wants to dominate her, without any indication that he appreciates the way she's resisting his domineering instincts—or maybe he does appreciate it but still wants to dominate her, which would make it feel even more like a bad high school relationship in which the senior tells the freshman "I really like you, but you're not what I'm looking for, so please change." Christian comes across less as damaged hero than self-centered juvenile bordering on icky creep, which definitely erodes his sexy mystique. James' storytelling here is tedious, repetitive, and sometimes even cringe-worthy. This new take on a familiar story would have been more powerful if Christian had shown the self-awareness and ability to change we saw through Ana's eyes in the original.

Die-hard fans might argue this gives us something new, but it doesn’t—and it's boring.

Pub Date: June 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-101-94634-3

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Vintage

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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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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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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