This family drama is steeped in suspense, but its likable cast of characters is its main draw.


A family deals with grief after losing one of its members, but questions arise: Who did it, and why?

The Mackie clan is no stranger to loss. After the accidental, tragic death of their young son Griff, Summer and Matt try to move on for the sake of their living children, preteen Willa and 7-year-old Gabe. The family plans a relaxing trip to Zoar Valley Gorge near their hometown of Buffalo, New York. But when Matt, Willa, and Summer fall from a cliff, resulting in Summer’s death, it only leads to another terrible round of grieving. Summer’s sister, Starla, rushes in to help the family. The sheriff’s office suspects foul play. Witnesses noted a stranger yelling at the family before the fall, and young Gabe remembers hearing a clicking noise and seeing a man run past him. Deputy Sheriff Conner Boyle makes it his mission to find out the truth. Summer’s first marriage and her work as a sexual-assault forensics examiner lead to a number of possible suspects, including pedophile Victor Kurtz, who’s been stalking Willa. Victor begins a game of cat and mouse with the police, while the Mackie family takes a much-needed journey to Texas, where Matt’s parents live. There, the Mackies attempt to start over—but Victor keeps outwitting the authorities. Over the course of this book, Neathery immerses the reader in her world with lush metaphors and vivid descriptions of both the New York and Texas settings. The author ably helps the reader navigate the complexity of his characters’ interactions; there are fraught relationships, relationships rekindled, and new relationships formed. She’s particularly deft at capturing the conflicting, layered emotions of grief and heartache while simultaneously weaving a fast-paced mystery into this narrative fabric. At times, the language feels a bit heavy-handed (“Just after midnight, when the air was thick and cloaked in a murky brume…”), but readers will always find themselves rooting for the Mackie family members as they seek happiness.

This family drama is steeped in suspense, but its likable cast of characters is its main draw.

Pub Date: July 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73739-202-6

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Imagery Lit

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2021

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.


Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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