Uneven fare from the British Fforde, made forgivable by an appealing heroine.

A PERFECT PROPOSAL

Fforde’s latest is a rambling, bighearted novel in which a young Londoner becomes entangled with a wealthy American family.

Sophie is a lovely girl, if a bit too easily pushed around. Her family, a group of self-centered academics, thinks she’s comparatively dim and treats her as their very own Cinderella. Her friends can’t understand why her boyfriends are needy moochers. And Sophie herself would like something more than waiting tables. She has a plan: Save enough money to take a tailoring and business course and open her own shop. But first she must look after Evil Uncle Eric while his housekeeper is away (her family insists—Uncle Eric is loaded, and they are hoping for an inheritance), and then she is off to New York to temporarily nanny for a local family. Uncle Eric proves a doll, but the nannying job falls through, leaving Sophie in New York with her transplanted friend Milly to play out scenes from Sex and the City. At an art opening, Sophie rescues a society matron about to faint. Matilda Winchester, an English war bride, is charmed by Sophie, but her American grandson, Luke, is not. Matilda treats Sophie to a day out and invites her to Thanksgiving dinner at her Connecticut house, but Luke warns Sophie not to get too close—he’s on the lookout for hangers-on. Sophie is undeterred by his rudeness and spends a lovely final week in America at Matilda’s mansion before she heads back to waiting tables and, of course, doing that favor for Matilda. As a child, Matilda stayed in a house on the Cornish coast; the house holds her happiest memories, and she wants Sophie to find it for her. Then Luke ends up in London, and the inevitable romance begins. Thinly crafted plot devices tear them apart before the same reunite them. This is a shame, as Sophie is a charmer, and real relationship problems (their differences in class, wealth, values) would have created a far richer romance if there were real jeopardy to the happiness.

Uneven fare from the British Fforde, made forgivable by an appealing heroine.

Pub Date: April 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-250-02429-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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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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