A fun, if occasionally tedious, novel, equal parts heart-tugging and steamy—strictly for romance enthusiasts.


An attorney and a baseball star must come to terms with their complicated past for the sake of their ailing son.

Libby Tucker is a beautiful, successful Windy City attorney who knows how to get what she wants. And what she wants most right now is to find a bone marrow donor for her 6-year-old son Cass, who is dying of leukemia. The boy’s father is her best hope, but Libby hasn’t spoken to Banford Aidan Palowski—aka Band-Aid—in a half-dozen years, and for good reason. When a brief hookup between these two college friends led to pregnancy, Aidan urged Libby to get an abortion. She refused, excising him from her life. Aidan took off to make it in the big leagues, believing Libby had given their baby up for adoption. Years later, Libby, who still hasn’t forgiven her old flame, reluctantly turns to Aidan—now the Cubs’ star pitcher—in a desperate attempt to save her son. Aidan agrees, but on one condition: He wants to be part of his child’s life. Libby’s hesitant (Cass believes his father is dead), but Aidan persists, manipulating his way into their life. Soon, the three have formed a charming, if sometimes prickly, family unit, as Cass quickly bonds with his father, and Aidan embraces his new role. But the relationship between Aidan and Libby is less settled. Aidan wants another chance to win “the only game, in thirty odd years, I hadn’t seen to completion.” Libby is less eager, still nursing anger and frightened of the intensity of her feelings for Aidan. Gradually, the couple learns to navigate their new relationship, but before long, tragedy strikes, tearing the couple apart again. Marx’s (The Seer’s 7 Deadly Fairy Tales, 2012, etc.) romance is full of twists and turns, some expected, and some not, with an emotionally complex central conflict, lively (though at times infuriating) characters and a carefully drawn Chicago setting. But far too many secondary characters populate this bulky novel, and half-baked subplots distract from the main story, such as Aidan’s scheming ex-fiancee, who attempts to blackmail him with a scandalous doctored photograph and then abruptly disappears. This crowded tale is at its best when focused on the shifting dynamics among Aidan, Libby and Cass.

A fun, if occasionally tedious, novel, equal parts heart-tugging and steamy—strictly for romance enthusiasts.

Pub Date: May 30, 2012

ISBN: 978-1477470732

Page Count: 484

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2012

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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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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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Fresh and upbeat, though not without flaws.


An earnest grad student and a faculty member with a bit of a jerkish reputation concoct a fake dating scheme in this nerdy, STEM-filled contemporary romance.

Olive Smith and professor Adam Carlsen first met in the bathroom of Adam's lab. Olive wore expired contact lenses, reducing her eyes to temporary tears, while Adam just needed to dispose of a solution. It's a memory that only one of them has held onto. Now, nearly three years later, Olive is fully committed to her research in pancreatic cancer at Stanford University's biology department. As a faculty member, Adam's reputation precedes him, since he's made many students cry or drop their programs entirely with his bluntness. When Olive needs her best friend, Anh, to think she's dating someone so Anh will feel more comfortable getting involved with Olive's barely-an-ex, Jeremy, she impulsively kisses Adam, who happens to be standing there when Anh walks by. But rumors start to spread, and the one-time kiss morphs into a fake relationship, especially as Adam sees there's a benefit for him. The university is withholding funds for Adam's research out of fear that he'll leave for a better position elsewhere. If he puts down more roots by getting involved with someone, his research funds could be released at the next budgeting meeting in about a month's time. After setting a few ground rules, Adam and Olive agree that come the end of September, they'll part ways, having gotten what they need from their arrangement. Hazelwood has a keen understanding of romance tropes and puts them to good use—in addition to fake dating, Olive and Adam are an opposites-attract pairing with their sunny and grumpy personalities—but there are a couple of weaknesses in this debut novel. Hazelwood manages to sidestep a lot of the complicated power dynamics of a student-faculty romance by putting Olive and Adam in different departments, but the impetus for their fake relationship has much higher stakes for Adam. Olive does reap the benefits of dating a faculty member, but in the end, she's still the one seemingly punished or taunted by her colleagues; readers may have been hoping for a more subversive twist. For a first novel, there's plenty of shine here, with clear signs that Hazelwood feels completely comfortable with happily-ever-afters.

Fresh and upbeat, though not without flaws.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-33682-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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