A provocative and sensitive portrait of love developing in the most unexpected of places.

Hard Road Home

A chance encounter leads to an unexpected connection for a young receptionist and a reserved trucker in this contemporary romance.

Amanda Swenson’s life is primarily defined by the expectations of her family and the demands of her job as a receptionist for a small medical practice in western North Dakota. Shy and introverted, she’d like to be more confident and assertive, particularly at work. Her mother wants her to meet people and start dating, but she’s had little success with relationships. Her luck begins to change the night her older brother, Mark, invites her to dinner. Mark, an oil company employee, brings along a friend, trucker Clayton Sloan from Kansas. She is immediately drawn to Clayton, who’s friendly but reticent (“Amanda had never met anyone from Kansas. She began to appreciate the state in a whole new way….When she felt herself leaning toward him like a daisy to the sun, she straightened up immediately”). Clayton is not looking for love. A tragedy and untenable bank loan have threatened the family farm. Determined to help his parents save it, his sole focus is earning enough money to pay off the loan and launch an organic wheat venture. He’s attracted to Amanda but feels he has nothing to offer her. Despite his reservations, a relationship slowly blossoms that raises Amanda’s confidence and opens Clayton’s heart to the possibility of love. Dopson’s (The Light at the End of the World, 2002, etc.) novel successfully combines the sensitivity and insight of a character study with a slow-burning, provocative romance. The exceptionally well-developed protagonists are bolstered by realistic settings and a dynamic and multilayered supporting cast. The strongest elements of the story are the leads, Clayton and Amanda. Their situations are relatable thanks to Dopson’s carefully crafted prose and naturalistic dialogue. While Clayton and Amanda’s relationship anchors the story, the secondary characters are more than just set decoration; they are equally vital parts of the narrative. Two of the most compelling supporting players are Mark and his long-term girlfriend, Jessica. The Bakken oil boom in North Dakota is vividly rendered and allows the author the opportunity to explore the effect the long hours and dangerous work conditions have on individuals and families.

A provocative and sensitive portrait of love developing in the most unexpected of places.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9712123-5-0

Page Count: 426

Publisher: Angelfire Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.


Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 13

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize

  • National Book Award Finalist


Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?