WELCOME TO TEMPTATION

If small towns are filled with heroes like Crusie’s (Crazy for You, p. 163, etc.), then romance readers may begin to crowd the highways. Sophie Dempsey, the “daughter of a thousand felons,” and her sister, Amy, come to the town of Temptation, Ohio, to film an “audition tape” for Clea Whipple, a local girl turned porn star whose anchorman husband has run off with her inheritance and refuses to give it back. Sophie is one of the only honest, if repressed, members of a family of charming cons and thieves. After her mother’s death, she raised her sister and her brother, Davy, who now specializes in parting shady businessmen from their dubious gains. Their father, a guy with a long rap sheet, is permanently on the lam. In the upright town of Temptation, the major bones of contention appear to be the painting of the water tower, which looks like a large erect phallus, and the ordering of new streetlights. These rather boring proceedings are presided over by Phineas Tucker, whose silly name hides a really hunky “town boy”—a single father who owns the local bookstore. Phin, immediately taken with Sophie’s lower lip, seduces her with promises of slightly kinky sex. Sophie hasn’t had any good “head-banging sex” in quite a while, if ever, and is inspired by Phin’s technique, using their love scenes as a template for Clea’s video. Crusie seems to have perfected the fan-delighting art of erotic, comic, and yet homey sex, with the understanding that the head-banging sex is made possible by that head-banging other word: love. Into this jokey, soft-core mix, Crusie inserts modern-romance’s de-rigueur murder and hometown violence, the working out of which threatens to derail her plot as well as the appeal of roadside America. Nevertheless, with her third seriously pleasing hardcover—bright, funny, sexy, and wise—it’s time to welcome Crusie into the pantheon of top-flight romance writers.

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-312-25294-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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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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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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