A sprawling cast and deep family history invigorate this sequel.

Highland Circle of Stones

From the The Highland Healer Series series , Vol. 2

In the second volume of Karsner’s (Highland Healer, 2015) romantic fantasy series, a vendetta between powerful beings threatens the MacKinnon clan’s hard-won peace.

It’s the mid-18th century, just after the Battle of Culloden and several months after she thwarted the foul desires of Cmdr. Campbell and Lord Warwick, and Caitlin the Healer is beginning her new life with the MacKinnons. Originally hailing from the Isle of Skye, she joins the four brothers (Alex, Jack, Hector, and Ian) in their lodge on the Scottish Highlands. There, she wants to marry Alex and expand her knowledge as a Healer. Yet some people, like Jack, call her a witch because of her elemental abilities, bequeathed to her as one of the Creator’s Called Ones. Although she has hopes for her future, Caitlin, formerly a loner, must now deal with being surrounded by people, including Lady Millie Sinclair Warwick, whose baby she helped deliver. The Healer is also unaware that the jealous Drosera—who failed to woo Alex in the past—has insinuated herself into the MacKinnons’ lives, just in time for the wedding. Caitlin copes by visiting the nearby circle of Druidic stones, within which she can feel a presence calling to her. For the second installment of her series, Karsner creates an elegiac battlement on the first novel’s foundation. The narrative’s strongest theme is family; for example, as Alex kneels at his Mam’s grave, he thinks, “Everywhere we look we still see yer touch, and yer name always brings a smile to our faces.” It uses its fantasy elements sparingly, though it also depicts them beautifully, as when the wizard, Uncle Wabi, uses “time weaving,” moving “at a speed that had stars melting...and the colors of Aurora Borealis racing across the sky.” Readers may find a climax in the story’s midsection to be jarring; it’s a moment that could have ended the story, but Karsner instead continues weaving her plot. As a result, it gives the later events an episodic feel, rather than that of a single, grand arc. Nevertheless, a savage finale tests the clan and should rivet readers.

A sprawling cast and deep family history invigorate this sequel.

Pub Date: May 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943369-06-5

Page Count: 364

Publisher: SeaDog Press, LLC

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2016

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Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

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MAYBE SOMEDAY

Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson. 

Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty. 

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5316-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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