An entertaining tale about perseverance that is perhaps better classified as a satisfying mystery than a romance.


An up-and-coming attorney meets a mysterious man and begins to question the life she has built for herself in this suspenseful story.

Novelist Wurtenbaugh’s (A Prophet Without Honor, 2017, etc.) tale opens as junior legal associate Adele Jansen is staffed on a high-profile matter at the law firm where she has been making a name for herself. Her slight build and youthful appearance cause her to be underestimated, but Adele continually outpaces her male peers. Everything changes when one of the firm’s clients, a publishing company, seeks Adele’s help in communicating with a potentially uncooperative author. When Adele meets Tom Newcombe, the author in question, sparks fly. After a meeting filled with deep discussion about esoteric intellectual topics, Adele is irrevocably smitten. But she questions whether there is any room in her life and career for a relationship. As she begins to think of Tom as her true priority, she learns he has disappeared, seemingly without a trace. Worse yet, Tom’s few acquaintances that Adele locates warn her to avoid him. Adele doesn’t believe that Tom could be bad news, and thus she begins a quest to discover as much as possible about the real Tom Newcombe. When answers finally emerge, will Adele be able to accept them? By doling out mysterious drips and drabs about Newcombe’s past, the author successfully builds tension in the story that increases steadily. Wurtenbaugh also provides many interesting details about a wide array of ancillary subjects, ranging from office politics and art to computer programming and mathematical theory. Although these oft-gratuitous, extensive details become cumbersome, impeding what is otherwise a fast-paced narrative, the story is redeemed by the many vivid and engrossing scenes of Adele’s astute sleuthing. By offering readers just the right kinds of clues about Tom as the truth slowly unfurls, Wurtenbaugh delivers an absorbing tale about checkered pasts and new commitments.

An entertaining tale about perseverance that is perhaps better classified as a satisfying mystery than a romance.

Pub Date: March 1, 2018


Page Count: 826

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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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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 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A flabby, fervid melodrama of a high-strung Southern family from Conroy (The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline), whose penchant for overwriting once again obscures a genuine talent. Tom Wingo is an unemployed South Carolinian football coach whose internist wife is having an affair with a pompous cardiac man. When he hears that his fierce, beautiful twin sister Savannah, a well-known New York poet, has once again attempted suicide, he escapes his present emasculation by flying north to meet Savannah's comely psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein. Savannah, it turns out, is catatonic, and before the suicide attempt had completely assumed the identity of a dead friend—the implication being that she couldn't stand being a Wingo anymore. Susan (a shrink with a lot of time on her hands) says to Tom, "Will you stay in New York and tell me all you know?" and he does, for nearly 600 mostly-bloated pages of flashbacks depicting The Family Wingo of swampy Colleton County: a beautiful mother, a brutal shrimper father (the Great Santini alive and kicking), and Tom and Savannah's much-admired older brother, Luke. There are enough traumas here to fall an average-sized mental ward, but the biggie centers around Luke, who uses the skills learned as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam to fight a guerrilla war against the installation of a nuclear power plant in Colleton and is killed by the authorities. It's his death that precipitates the nervous breakdown that costs Tom his job, and Savannah, almost, her life. There may be a barely-glimpsed smaller novel buried in all this succotash (Tom's marriage and life as a football coach), but it's sadly overwhelmed by the book's clumsy central narrative device (flashback ad infinitum) and Conroy's pretentious prose style: ""There are no verdicts to childhood, only consequences, and the bright freight of memory. I speak now of the sun-struck, deeply lived-in days of my past.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1986

ISBN: 0553381547

Page Count: 686

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1986

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