An entertaining, warmhearted yarn about love that persists through extreme transmogrifications.

MISSING CHARLIE

A woman magically cursed with premature aging gets her groove back courtesy of a sexy mystery man in this fantasy romance.

Nona May Taylor is a 23-year-old woman trapped in an 83-year-old body for the last five years thanks to a curse placed on her by Rebecca Delanore, a witch. Rebecca stole Nona’s face, form, and voice along with her flourishing career as a folk singer. Nona is holed up in a remote Montana cabin with her relatives and manager, who were turned into talking animals by Rebecca’s spell. Her mother, Penny, and stepfather, Wally, are a hen and a hog; her sister, Bridget, and brother-in-law, Jack, are a fox and a rabbit; and her manager, Fritz, is a ferret. With her feeble strength, woozy balance, and blurred eyesight, Nona provides for everyone by hunting game with her shotgun, chopping firewood, and whipping up gourmet meals of fresh venison and huckleberry sauce, with Penny contributing eggs. When a huge snowfall blocks the roads, they come upon an injured hiker named Charlie Brown. Nona is instantly smitten by his 20-something good looks, insinuating charm, and guitar chops and by his habit of singing Nona’s old songs, including her hit “Missing Charlie.” The two spend an evening in intimate, flirty conversation despite their apparent 60-year age gap, and Nona wakes to find herself looking and feeling decades younger, with her senses restored and brunette streaks in her silver hair. As things heat up and she continues to de-age, she and her hopeful menagerie suspect that Charlie may be able to lift the curse by bringing true love to Nona—until she realizes he is not what he seems. Hardy’s distaff version of “Beauty and the Beast” treats its magical themes with a light touch and prose that’s witty and sparkling. (Nona: “What the hell was that thing you wore to the Grammys? Looked like Bridge here ate a wedding dress and a bag of skittles and barfed it up all over you.” Rebecca: “As if you’d know anything about current fashion, Grizzly Adams.”) The cute critters are not kid friendly thanks to their bawdy repartee and sex scenes that take on kinky overtones in a passage in which they regain their human forms for one night of pent-up passion. The result is a blithely captivating but very adult Disney story.

An entertaining, warmhearted yarn about love that persists through extreme transmogrifications.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68433-640-1

Page Count: 244

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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

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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