A complex and compelling romance with an underdeveloped heroine.


An open-hearted lawyer is forced to choose between her fiance and her dying ex in Friedland’s (Trouble the Water, 2018) novel about love and forgiveness.

Meredith Altman is a successful Jewish attorney living in Manhattan and planning a wedding to handsome Aaron Rapp, a pediatric surgeon. However, in 2017, a celebratory dinner with friends changes everything: The Tribeca restaurant’s chef and owner is Wesley Latner, Meredith’s ex-fiance, whom she hasn’t seen in five years. Old feelings resurface in the form of flashbacks to their young love and Wesley’s unwavering support for Meredith’s tenuous family situation, which had her parents on the verge of divorce before her mother’s cancer diagnosis. Years later, to escape from the stress of the plans for their son’s wedding, Wesley’s parents set out on a vacation and were killed in a plane crash, causing a grief-stricken Wesley to blame Meredith for their deaths before he moved to London. Now that she’s engaged to another man, Meredith seeks closure before Wesley drops a bomb: He’s been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS, and his body is rapidly deteriorating. Without consulting Aaron, Meredith invites Wesley to move into the apartment they share, and one intimate moment between Meredith and Wesley threatens Meredith’s relationship with her fiance as well as her sense of self. Can Aaron forgive Meredith for her slip, or is the dying Wesley the one Meredith was meant to be with all along? Friedland’s sharp prose and plotting make Meredith’s dilemma a relatable one: The pull between past and present can be difficult even when a debilitating illness isn’t part of the mix. But Friedland keeps the reader guessing about what Meredith will do—not only about her romantic partners, but also about her career as a lawyer who caters mainly to big tobacco companies. Unfortunately, the development of Meredith’s character often gets lost as she seeks to care for others: her parents, her future in-laws, the former and current men in her life. Though her do-gooder spirit is firmly established, not much else of Meredith’s personality is.

A complex and compelling romance with an underdeveloped heroine.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68463-030-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: SparkPress

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2020

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...


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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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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