A cute concept undercut by awkward writing, inconsistent, simplistic characterization and too many implausibilities to allow...

THE BLOSSOM SISTERS

When Gus Hollister’s gold-digger wife throws him out, he works to re-establish ties with his grandmother and great-aunts, whom he’s ignored since his marriage and who have a few secrets of their own.

CPA Gus Hollister is blindsided on the last day of tax season when wife, Elaine, demands a divorce, forcing him out of his own house, which his grandmother paid for. Since their marriage, Elaine has convinced him to ignore his grandmother and her two sisters, the women who raised him and whom he loves more than anyone in the world. Now he must work to get back in their good graces, and in the process, he’ll find out that those ladies and a posse of local seniors have started local and online businesses selling a spectrum of interesting, varied products. Elaine, the gold digger, expects to take him for everything he’s worth, including his house, his car, half his business and even his inheritance. Lucky for Gus, he’s an all-round-good guy no one can stay mad at—oh, and that he has a world-famous, billionaire hedge fund manager as a best friend, who is willing to fund his divorce attorney—the best ever, of course—and a full firm of private investigators.  And how fortunate that Elaine is not only a bona fide gold digger (a term used repeatedly throughout the text), but also a practicing high priestess of witchcraft with a long background of deception, shrewish behavior and all-round-villainess tendencies. (And how unfortunate that Gus wouldn’t listen to all of his relatives and friends when they told him not to marry her.) Not to worry, though, Elaine has her next mark in sight, and Gus is just lucky enough that she’ll move on to the next guy and uncharacteristically decide to cut her losses and legal property rights and leave Gus alone. Meanwhile, Gus will help his grandmother and friends streamline their operation, and maybe he’ll even fall in love.

A cute concept undercut by awkward writing, inconsistent, simplistic characterization and too many implausibilities to allow us to take the book or the ending seriously.

Pub Date: April 30, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7582-8671-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

REGRETTING YOU

When tragedy strikes, a mother and daughter forge a new life.

Morgan felt obligated to marry her high school sweetheart, Chris, when she got pregnant with their daughter, Clara. But she secretly got along much better with Chris’ thoughtful best friend, Jonah, who was dating her sister, Jenny. Now her life as a stay-at-home parent has left her feeling empty but not ungrateful for what she has. Jonah and Jenny eventually broke up, but years later they had a one-night stand and Jenny got pregnant with their son, Elijah. Now Jonah is back in town, engaged to Jenny, and working at the local high school as Clara’s teacher. Clara dreams of being an actress and has a crush on Miller, who plans to go to film school, but her father doesn't approve. It doesn’t help that Miller already has a jealous girlfriend who stalks him via text from college. But Clara and Morgan’s home life changes radically when Chris and Jenny are killed in an accident, revealing long-buried secrets and forcing Morgan to reevaluate the life she chose when early motherhood forced her hand. Feeling betrayed by the adults in her life, Clara marches forward, acting both responsible and rebellious as she navigates her teenage years without her father and her aunt, while Jonah and Morgan's relationship evolves in the wake of the accident. Front-loaded with drama, the story leaves plenty of room for the mother and daughter to unpack their feelings and decide what’s next.

The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1642-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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This quirky, complex, and frustrating heroine will win hearts and challenge assumptions about family dysfunction and mental...

WITHOUT MERIT

With the help of unusual houseguests, a teenage girl who tries to rebel by airing her family’s dirty laundry cleans up her act instead.

To Merit Voss, the white picket fence around her house is the only thing normal about the family it contains. She lives in a converted church with her father, stepmother, and siblings, and although her parents have been divorced for years, her mother still lives in the basement, struggling with social anxiety. No one in her family is religious, so her brother Utah updates the church marquee every day with fun facts instead of Bible verses. Merit is less accomplished than her identical twin sister, Honor, so she likes to buy used trophies to celebrate her failures. But Honor seems to have a fetish for terminally ill boys, so it’s a surprise to Merit when Sagan, who is perfectly healthy, kisses Merit after mistaking her for her sister—and then reveals that he’s living in their house. Soon they have another houseguest, Luck, whose connection to the family makes Merit even more convinced she’s living in a madhouse. So why is everyone so angry at her? Merit has a love/hate relationship with her sister. She's conflicted by her feelings for Sagan, who leaves intriguing sketches (illustrated by Adams) around the house for her to decipher. She’s simultaneously intrigued and repulsed by Luck, who annoys her with his questions but is also her confidant. She can’t sit through dinner without starting a fight; she’s been skipping school for days; and when she decides to give her whole family the silent treatment, Sagan is the only one who notices. In fact, he and Luck are the only people in the house who recognize Merit’s quirks for what they really are—cries for help. And when Merit takes drastic measures to be heard, the fallout is both worse and much better than she feared. Hoover (It Ends With Us, 2016, etc.) does an excellent job of revealing the subtle differences between healthy teenage rebellion and clinical depression, and Merit’s aha moment is worthy of every trophy in her collection.

This quirky, complex, and frustrating heroine will win hearts and challenge assumptions about family dysfunction and mental illness in a life-affirming story that redefines what’s normal.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7062-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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