Offers thoughtful meditations about love after widowhood, but needs tighter focus.




In this memoir, a widow recounts her experiences finding a new relationship and building a house in the Virgin Islands. 

Stevens (Goombah Luigi’s Grandson: Memoir of a Jewish Psychologist, 2010, etc.) was in her early 60s and had been widowed for three years when she got a phone call from her old boss Nils Wessell, who’d been chairman of the humanities department where Stevens had taught psychology. They’d seen each other a few times after her husband, Sheldon, died, but Nils didn’t seem that interested. Now, he was inviting her to visit him at his home in Water Island, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands. “Sheldon was special. No one could replace him,” writes Stevens. “And yet…I didn’t want to spend the next thirty years alone.” Her decision to accept his invitation led to a relationship that, despite Nils’ dithering, quickly became serious. In this novellike memoir, Stevens relates how they built a house together on Water Island while they also rebuilt trust, let down emotional walls and found happiness. The most effective and striking parts of the memoir are those that show, with great honesty and emotional precision, the uneasiness of navigating a new relationship after the certainties of a good marriage. Every early hiccup with Nils reminds Stevens that “what I really wanted was my old life. The easy camaraderie I had with a longtime friend and lover. The shared history. The secret communications.” She also shows how courage and patience can overcome such fears. The book is, however, mired in pages of Wikipedia-like tourist-guide information: “[F]ew knew that Georgia is the largest state east of the Mississippi or that it has a hundred and thirty miles of coast.” Much needless specificity intrudes: “At exactly 5:30 p.m. I exited from south U.S. 95 at Exit 363.” And far too much space is devoted to the excruciatingly dull details of solving red-tape problems, from obtaining building supplies to bureaucratic signatures, plus every small decision over curtains, tiles, decorating colors and so on. Few readers will care.

Offers thoughtful meditations about love after widowhood, but needs tighter focus.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1493153909

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2014

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Another success for the publishing phenom.


An abused boy fights back, escapes, then returns as an attorney to his beloved hometown, but just as he’s falling in love with a transplanted landscaper, a series of attacks from shadowy enemies jeopardizes their happiness.

“From the outside, the house in Lakeview Terrace looked perfect.” Which of course means that it wasn't. We're introduced to the horrifying Dr. Graham Bigelow, who beats his wife and, increasingly as the boy gets older, his son, Zane. On the night of Zane’s prom, a particularly savage attack puts him and his sister in the hospital, and his father blames Zane, landing him in jail. Then his sister stands up for him, enlisting the aid of their aunt, and everything changes, mainly due to Zane’s secret diaries. Nearly 20 years later, Zane leaves a successful career as a lawyer to return to Lakeview, where his aunt and sister live with their families, deciding to hang a shingle as a small-town lawyer. Then he meets Darby McCray, the landscaper who’s recently relocated and taken the town by storm, starting with the transformation of his family’s rental bungalows. The two are instantly intrigued by each other, but they move slowly into a relationship neither is looking for. Darby has a violent past of her own, so she is more than willing to take on the risk of antagonizing a boorish local family when she and Zane help an abused wife. Suddenly Zane and Darby face one attack after another, and even as they grow ever closer under the pressure, the dangers become more insidious. Roberts’ latest title feels a little long and the story is slightly cumbersome, but her greatest strength is in making the reader feel connected to her characters, so “unnecessary details” can also charm and engage.

Another success for the publishing phenom.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20709-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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