A solidly grounded, atmospheric evocation of Nero’s Rome at a crossroads of faith and crisis.

VESTAL VIRGIN

CHOSEN FOR ROME

A historical novel features a vestal virgin in ancient Rome encountering the new religion of Christianity.

This book from Basto, following Days to the Gallows (2016), opens in C.E. 60. Cornelia Cosa, the pampered 10-year-old daughter of a prosperous wine merchant, is chosen in a lottery to become a vestal virgin, a member of Rome’s most venerated and venerable female religious society, charged with preserving the morals of society. Vestals serve 30-year terms and are revered by all strata of Roman society. But being torn from her family is naturally a rude shock to Cornelia. In carefully researched and well-crafted prose, the author uses Cornelia as a viewpoint character through which to introduce her readers to the inner world of the vestal virgins (“I climbed the seven steps and entered my new home feeling as bald as a baby bird,” the young girl muses as she begins her journey). Readers meet her fellow sisters in the House of the Vestals and learn the lore and history of the order as Cornelia grows older and adapts to its rhythms. One day, a friend among the vestals takes Cornelia to the house of a man named Paul, leader of the fledgling Christian faith and gadfly to the Emperor Nero. Cornelia sees a “small, bandy-legged man with the balding head and tufts of red and gray hair sticking up on the sides.” Paul impresses her; his message about the ministry of Jesus thoroughly converts her friend and troubles Cornelia’s thoughts. As the years go by, Cornelia’s family experiences business reversals, and Nero deteriorates into a brutal tyrant. Basto does a very readable, confident job of playing all of this against the backdrop of personalities and intrigue inside the Temple of Vesta. Cornelia herself is a lovable, headstrong character who will make a deep impression on readers.

A solidly grounded, atmospheric evocation of Nero’s Rome at a crossroads of faith and crisis.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73339-007-1

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Honestly, who needs Nantucket. It could hardly be more fun than this book.

THE HOTEL NANTUCKET

Bring on the fresh-baked gougères and the hydrangea-blue cashmere throws: A classic fictional setting—the grand hotel—gets the Hilderbrand treatment.

The beloved beach novelist’s 28th book is another tour de force, deploying all her usual tricks and tropes and clever points of view, again among them a character from the afterlife and the collective “we” of gossipy island residents. Our ghost is Grace Hadley, a teenage chambermaid who died under suspicious circumstances in a hotel fire in 1922. Grace’s lonely days are over when the historic property is purchased and reopened by a London billionaire. As Xavier Darling tells his general manager, Lizbet Keaton, their goal will be to get five out of five keys from Shelly Carpenter, an undercover hotel blogger who has not awarded top honors to any spot visited so far. A gorgeous remodel, a sterling staff, free treats in the minibar, and—of course, since this is Hilderbrand—an incredible restaurant where a disco ball drops from the ceiling every night at 9 p.m. and the chef is hotter than any dish on the menu are all in play as the first guests come streaming in. Which one is the hard-to-please Ms. Carpenter? Other addictive storylines include a rich kid cleaning rooms to expiate some mysterious, terrible thing he did this past spring, an evil beauty breaking up island marriages (instead of a gun in the drawer, there's a half-used Chanel eye shadow in Pourpre Brun), and the desperate attempts of Lizbet’s ex, who sexted with their wine rep, to win her back. One of the special services Lizbet creates for the guests of the Hotel Nantucket is a “Blue Book” containing all her recommended island itineraries. A real-life version is included as an appendix, giving the complete scoop on where to eat, drink, sunbathe, shop, and stay on the island, plus notes on which Hilderbrand novels happened where. If you’re ready to check out Chicken Box or to try the sandwiches on herb bread that lured the author to become a permanent island resident in 1993, the Elin Hilderbrand Bucket List Weekend really is a thing.

Honestly, who needs Nantucket. It could hardly be more fun than this book.

Pub Date: June 14, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-25867-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 30

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

REMINDERS OF HIM

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

Did you like this book?

more