From wanton to wicked, the love-hate relationship between Dickey's characters burns with rapid-fire dialogue and plenty of...

BEFORE WE WERE WICKED

In the tragic prequel to Bad Men and Wicked Women (2018), Dickey resets the clock to 1996, when bill collector Ken Swift goes on his first date with destiny.

Her name is Adanech Abeylegesse Zenebework, but she calls herself Jimi Lee after Jimi Hendrix and Spike Lee. In this origin story, 18-year-old Jimi is staying with her privileged Ethiopian parents in Southern California as part of her gap year before she attends Harvard. Ken settles debts for a shady employer named San Bernardino, but he swears it’s only until he can finish his education at UCLA. Jimi says she’s 21 when she meets Ken at a club on the Sunset Strip, and although she looks down on African-American men—a topic they discuss in great detail—their one-night stand becomes an obsession that consumes them both. Together, they explore the diverse beauty of the greater Los Angeles area, from Leimert Park, the “Black Beverly Hills,” to the outer suburb of Diamond Bar. They enjoy the '90s as they watch movies on a VCR, dance the Cabbage Patch, and argue over the O.J. Simpson trial. Passionate and complex, Jimi and Ken spar over social issues and end up in bed as often as Black History Month and Valentine’s Day share the month of February—which is to say, all the time. Ultimately, their relationship takes a bad turn for more personal reasons—an unplanned pregnancy that derails Jimi’s plans to go to college and disappoints her controlling parents. Jimi is too young for motherhood and can’t quite handle the responsibility. Ken, meanwhile, proves that her assumptions about African-Americans were untrue: He marries Jimi, dotes on their baby, and works hard to support them both. But when a collection job turns dangerous, threatening their daughter’s safety, even love might not be enough to keep them together. Readers jumping into the series will have the pleasure of reading the stories in chronological order. Fans will enjoy the backstory, which ends right where the first book begins.

From wanton to wicked, the love-hate relationship between Dickey's characters burns with rapid-fire dialogue and plenty of steam.

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4403-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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...

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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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