FOR BUTTER OR WORSE

A heartwarming tale of trust and absolution from a skilled novelist.

A celebrity chef and the owner of a restaurant chain clash as co-hosts of a television cooking show but are required to fake date to save their reputations.

Nina Lyon is a James Beard Award–winning chef who's well known in the Los Angeles food world. Leo O’Donnell, who has an MBA, is the owner of Vinny’s, a chain of family-friendly restaurants started by his father. Both signed on to become hosts of The Next Cooking Champ! to help boost the visibility of their restaurants. But over the past three seasons, Nina’s honest critiques have earned her the nickname “Nasty Nina,” and her falling popularity has caused her to close two of her restaurants. Despite Leo’s genial persona, their acrimonious TV exchanges are not endearing them to anyone, and Leo’s businesses are also shuttering. Nina’s publicist advises them to conduct a showmance, fake date each other to boost their popularity. But enemies pretending to be lovers is difficult to pull off convincingly, and their online fans alternately laud them and savage them. Trust is slow to grow between them, but eventually it is only with each other that they can relax and truly be themselves. Their acceptance of each other as they truly are allows them to give each other space to be their best selves. After his father’s death, Leo took charge of growing the business and took on the emotional burden as head of family so zealously that it has become his life and has given him low self-esteem, crippling anxiety, and panic attacks. La Rosa sensitively shows Leo’s work on his mental health recovery. Nina has lost her focus as an innovative chef, and the closure of her last restaurant is inevitable. La Rosa convincingly shows how Nina recovers her passion for food and the story she wants to tell as a chef while finding a way to empower other women in the culinary world.

A heartwarming tale of trust and absolution from a skilled novelist.

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-335-50634-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HQN

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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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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IT STARTS WITH US

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

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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 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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