A promising, poignant whodunit.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF LOVE

A debut murder mystery focuses on complicated relationships.

The novel’s opening scene lays out the crisis Betty-Jean Garrett must endure when the narrative builds to its denouement. She awakens with a premonition that something bad has happened, and a phone call from her father saying there’s a family emergency confirms it. The story revolves around Betty-Jean and her older sister, Margaret. The two are best friends, with Betty-Jean being the impulsive one and Margaret, the levelheaded, responsible sister. The narrative meanders slowly back through the recent past, detailing the lives of the sisters, their friends, and especially their lovers—Tim Harrison, Betty-Jean’s handsome fitness-trainer husband, and Sherry Larson, Margaret’s secret lesbian girlfriend, a highly successful but deeply troubled ad executive. Sherry, who grew up in an orphanage, has a violent backstory. Repeatedly raped by the orphanage’s janitor, she bonded with Priscilla, a fellow orphan. Misinterpreting their friendship, Sherry propositioned her only to have an angry Priscilla embarrass her “in front of some of the girls…. ‘I thought you was a queer. You stay away from me, you freak.’ ” Margaret meets Sherry in a gay bar while on a business trip. A mystery man has been sending Sherry bouquets of roses. Then a crank caller becomes more threatening and begins murdering people Sherry knows, including her therapist. In this engaging mystery, Plummer offers several likely suspects, such as Gilbert Daggett, Sherry’s homophobic account executive who tells lesbian jokes when she is within earshot. Readers are kept guessing right up to the surprise conclusion. Although the dialogue has its snappy moments, as when Betty-Jean explains why she is shopping—“I needed some retail therapy”—it suffers from an overusage of “he said”/“she said” when it is obvious who is speaking. But the author deftly articulates many gay people’s fear of being out when Margaret tells Sherry: “We’re still being ridiculed, and even getting killed for being gay....some kids are still being bullied to the point of suicide.”

A promising, poignant whodunit.

Pub Date: May 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4809-2044-6

Page Count: 758

Publisher: Dorrance Publishing Co.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2018

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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

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

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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