A comforting small-town romance, with chickens.

CHICK MAGNET

A struggling veterinarian and a popular influencer nudge one another to redefine the parameters of success in life and love.

Armed with charm, skill, and a brood of entertaining chickens, Nicole Jones has amassed a large fan following on social media. So, when her YouTuber boyfriend decides to dump her while streaming live, Nicole—or Chick Nic, as she is popularly known—feels desperately cornered. Bruised and humiliated, Nic relocates with her overactive avian brood to Yagerstown, where her late grandmother was born. But another challenge awaits in the form of local vet Will Lund. The dedicated doctor is displeased with Nic for making chicken-rearing appear easier and more glamorous than it really is. Although he's unsure of her dedication to her flock, Will has seen and admired Nic’s videos and finds himself nursing an uncomfortable attraction to his new neighbor. Several heated disagreements later, Nic and Will realize they share common ground: Both are dealing with life-altering difficulties. While Nic is nursing a broken heart, Will is forced to acknowledge that his vet practice has suffered irrecoverably in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. But it will take more than shared confidences for Will to finally believe that he is worthy of love and happiness. Nic and Will are instantly likable, and their search for steadiness and meaning—even roots and belonging, in Nic's case—during a difficult phase feels particularly authentic. Barry is insightful when she hints at the painful social shifts initiated by the pandemic, infectiously cheerful while describing Nic’s interactions with her clucking comrades, and especially evocative when she tackles Will’s internal struggles. But this sometimes leads to abrupt and disorienting tonal shifts, from featherlight and airy to emotionally dense and weighty.

A comforting small-town romance, with chickens.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-6625-0501-0

Page Count: 301

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2022

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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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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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IT STARTS WITH US

The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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