A bumpy love story with a gorgeous setting and vivid architectural details.

IT TAKES A VILLA

An American woman moves to Italy to restore a villa and meets a handsome architect in this contemporary romance.

Natalie Malone has just purchased a fixer-upper villa on the Amalfi Coast with money from a mysterious benefactor. In the villa’s “former life, it had been known as Pensione Benone, which translated to ‘very good inn.’ She had yet to decide what she would name it, but she liked the idea of quality.” The villa is part of an economic development plan for the hamlet of Zavona, but the program has been struggling. Architect Pietro Indelicato is determined to help the plan succeed, but his father and some cronies on the Economic Development Council are standing in the way. Pietro meets Natalie when she shows up at city hall to get a construction permit. Even though he is unhelpful, Natalie is attracted to him. They meet again when Natalie seeks his professional expertise. They start flirting as they work together and Pietro assists her with tasks at her villa. But the development plan is in trouble. Because of a clause in the contracts, people renovating houses in the community can’t own the dwellings unless satisfactory restoration work is done within six months. With unscrupulous contractors making shoddy repairs, it is becoming increasingly common for investors to suffer huge losses. When part of a house owned by friends of Natalie’s collapses, she finally realizes the serious difficulties she’s facing. Meanwhile, she tries to track down her generous benefactor, and Pietro fights with his father over Zavona’s future. Blades’ tale deftly portrays the beautiful Amalfi Coast, but the romance takes a while to get going. Most of the novel’s first half focuses on Natalie’s seemingly doomed attempt to renovate her villa. The romance feels like a slow burn until it isn’t, with friendly conversations suddenly escalating into making love in a lemon grove and Natalie meeting Pietro’s family. This series of events results in uneven pacing. The only conflict between the lovers is a manufactured misunderstanding, so the romance feels a bit bland compared with the rest of the tale. Still, there’s a great deal of intriguing home renovation information that will appeal to HGTV fans as the author skillfully describes the villa’s design and repairs.

A bumpy love story with a gorgeous setting and vivid architectural details.

Pub Date: May 24, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64937-208-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Entangled: Amara

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2022

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

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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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