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FREEFALLING

A NOVEL OF SENIOR ROMANCE

An overstuffed but uplifting tale of self-actualization with surprising plot twists.

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A  successful hotel manager finds love in her 60s, then descends into dementia in this “senior romance” novel.

In 2019, Charlotte O’Malley, “still striking at seventy-five years,” is in the lobby of an assisted living home, talking to the staff as if she is the manager, recommending upkeep tasks, etc. She’s expecting someone named Brandon to arrive, although her usual guests are a former work colleague and her niece, who mentions that Charlotte has episodes of Lewy Body dementia. Cut back to 2004. Charlotte is a hotel manager at the Tiffany Hotel in St. Paul, Minnesota. We meet Brandon, who first glimpses Charlotte at the hotel. They bump into each other again at a nearby resort on Lake Superior where they’re both staying solo. She’s taking a break from work and dealing with her abusive father who now has Lewy Body dementia and is in a nearby care home. Brandon is a Lutheran pastor who hasn’t had sex with his wife in years and is spending a lot of time alone working on a book about sex and spirituality. Charlotte and Brandon begin their relationship with heartfelt talks and secret dinners, which soon progress to an incredible sexual connection. A series of life events—including Brandon’s stumbling onto a discovery that helps to explain his wife’s behavior—disrupts the romance. Charlotte delves deeper into herself during a trip to Ireland, returns a few weeks later to try to move on, and soon forms a new relationship with someone she’s known for years. Fast forward to 2019 at the assisting living home; Charlotte has a healing encounter that may help her make peace with her past.

McAnam notes in the preface that Charlotte was based on women she met during her years running an assisted living home. Here, the author ably depicts the self-discovery of a woman who no longer bases her worth on her attractiveness (the focus of many of the characters in this novel) or her romantic relationships. As Charlotte’s mentor in Ireland notes, “Not all soulmate experiences last to the end of our lives. They are here to help us. Teach us.” The Charlotte/Brandon relationship, which takes up much of the book, is a bittersweet autumnal romance reminiscent of The Bridges of Madison County that takes some unexpected directions. The novel’s final dramatic sequence is a touching, evocative showcase of the drifting thoughts of an increasingly confused Charlotte and her growing spiritual awareness. This novel crams in lots of plot details: Charlotte also had a mentally ill mother, is in recovery, becomes an acclaimed photographer later in life, and loses a loved one at sea. Brandon also contends with an array of challenges at home and at work. Overall, however, this novel is respectful in its depiction of those in the midst of Lewy Body dementia and later-in-life self-acceptance. An overstuffed but uplifting tale of self-actualization with surprising plot twists.

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2023

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2022

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BRIDE

Sink your teeth into this delightful paranormal romance with a modern twist.

A vampire and an Alpha werewolf enter into a marriage of convenience in order to ease tensions between their species.

As the only daughter of a prominent Vampyre councilman, Misery Lark has grown accustomed to playing the role that’s demanded of her—and now, her father is ordering her to be part of yet another truce agreement. In an effort to maintain goodwill between the Vampyres and their longtime nemeses the Weres, Misery must wed their Alpha, Lowe Moreland. But it turns out that Misery has her own motivations for agreeing to this political marriage, including finding answers about what happened to her best friend, who went missing after setting up a meeting in Were territory. Isolated from her kind and surrounded on all sides by the enemy after the wedding, Misery refuses to let herself forget about her real mission. It doesn’t matter that Lowe is one of the most confounding and intense people she’s ever met, or that the connection building between them doesn’t feel like one born entirely of convenience. There’s also the possibility that Lowe may already have a Were mate of his own, but in spite of their biological differences, they may turn out to be the missing piece in each other’s lives. While this is Hazelwood’s first paranormal romance, and the book does lean on some hallmark tropes of the genre, the contemporary setting lends itself to the author’s trademark humor and makes the political plot more easily digestible. Misery and Lowe’s slow-burn romance is appealing enough that readers will readily devour every moment between them and hunger to return to them whenever the story diverts from their scenes together.

Sink your teeth into this delightful paranormal romance with a modern twist.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9780593550403

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023

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IT ENDS WITH US

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 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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