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THE PARTNER PLOT

A second-chance slam-dunk.

Two high school sweethearts reconnect in Vegas, where their relationship goes from nonexistent to newlyweds.

When Violet Greene and Xavier Wright met on their first day of 11th grade, they knew they'd found their person for life. Through the ups and downs of cafeteria arguments, prom, and late-night rendezvous, the two always found their way back to each other, vowing to stay together through the long-distance college years and beyond. But Xavier's NBA dreams were sidelined after he tore his Achilles tendon, and, not wanting to hold back Violet, who was on the fast track to becoming a stylist for the stars, he ended things, and they haven't seen each other since. Now, nine years later, Violet dresses A-listers from New York to Los Angeles, while Xavier has settled down as an English teacher and assistant basketball coach at their former New Jersey high school. Neither of them has been able to hold a steady partner, and when they run into each other at a club in Las Vegas, they somehow end up at a pretend wedding chapel and wake the next morning with rings on their fingers and no memory of how they got there. They each chalk it up to liquor and old feelings, and Violet hopes to leave their reunion in the past...until she impulsively tells a magazine interviewer that she just got married. Word travels fast, so to save further embarrassment, Violet and Xavier agree to keep up the ruse for a month, which means living together and being, well, married. As they reconnect, they begin to realize that maybe their relationship is more real than fake, but they have to decide whether they're willing to reopen old wounds. Forest's novel is a sweet portrayal of first love and second chances. Violet and Xavier are memorable, real, and vulnerable as they struggle with career sacrifices and the fear of more heartbreak. Yet they were destined from the start—and Forest's romance never misses a shot.

A second-chance slam-dunk.

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2024

ISBN: 9780593546451

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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JUST FOR THE SUMMER

A wallowing, emotionally wrenching family drama that leaves little time for romance.

Two people with bad luck in relationships find each other through a popular Reddit thread.

Emma Grant and her best friend, Maddy, are travel nurses, working at hospitals for three-month stints while they see the country. Just a few weeks before they’re set to move to Hawaii, Emma reads a popular “Am I the Asshole” Reddit thread from a Minnesota man who thinks he’s cursed—women he dates find their soulmates after breaking up with him, and the latest one found true love with his best friend! Emma has had a similar experience, which inspires her to DM the man and commiserate. She’s delighted by her witty, lively interactions with software engineer Justin Dahl, and is intrigued when he suggests that if they date each other, maybe they’ll each find their soulmate afterward. Emma upends the Hawaii plan and convinces Maddy to move to Minneapolis for the summer so she can meet Justin in person. The overly complex setup brings Emma and Justin together and the two hit it off, with Justin immediately falling head over heels for Emma. Jimenez then pivots to creating romantic roadblocks and melodramatic subplots centering on each character’s family of origin. Justin’s mother is about to serve six years in prison for embezzlement, which means Justin must move back home to care for his three much younger siblings. Emma was traumatized by her own mother for much of her childhood, left to fend for herself and eventually abandoned in the foster system. When her mother shows up in Minnesota, Emma must face her traumatic childhood and admit that she has prioritized her mother’s well-being over her own. There is little time devoted to Emma’s painful efforts to heal herself enough to accept Justin’s love, which leaves the novel feeling unsatisfying.

A wallowing, emotionally wrenching family drama that leaves little time for romance.

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781538704431

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Forever

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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IT ENDS WITH US

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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