Unnecessary plot twists sink this promising romance.

WHEN SPARKS FLY

Two friends become something more after a terrifying car accident puts things into perspective for both of them.

Avery Spark and Declan McCormick have been best friends since college and now live together in a Colorado Springs condo. Avery runs Spark House, an event hotel started by her grandparents, while Declan is a successful financial adviser. Avery is heading to their alma mater for a meeting about hosting events, and Declan is going to drive there with her and watch a soccer game, but after a night of heavy drinking and a one-night stand that hasn't ended by Sunday morning, Declan bails, leaving Avery to make the trip herself. Unfortunately, the forecast calls for heavy rain, and Avery has been an anxious driver since her own parents died in a car accident when she and her sisters were young. History (almost) repeats itself, and Avery is in an accident; she winds up hospitalized, and Declan is wracked with grief. He promises to make it up to her by looking after her recovery once she's released. As Declan cares for Avery, who's healing from many broken bones and bruises, their yearslong friendship gives way to steamy attraction. Things should have ended here, as there is enough material for an emotional and satisfying romantic arc, but Hunting jumps the shark by adding a viral scandal. High on pot brownies, Avery posts a social media rant that jeopardizes Spark House's standing with the public, its sponsors, and its vendors. This wholly unnecessary plot addition weakens Declan and Avery's romantic journey with a large dose of secondhand embarrassment. Still, the cast is lovely; Hunting knows how to throw together a fun group of characters and lay the foundation for potential sequels. Declan is a self-assured man who can admit when he's really messed up. Avery is a wonderful older sister and leader, making those around her feel at ease. The supporting characters—Avery's two sisters and her and Declan's group of friends—make the romance richer. If only the plot were as nuanced.

Unnecessary plot twists sink this promising romance.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2506-2470-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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

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IT STARTS WITH US

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 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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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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