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THE SHAADI SET-UP

This rom-com could have used a better setup.

A woman is given a second chance at first love.

On the surface, Rita Chitniss is thriving. She runs Dharma Designs, a furniture upcycling business that has become so popular in her North Carolina community that her internet-famous neighbors clamor for her pieces. Her boyfriend, Neil Dewan, is handsome, successful, and ready to settle down. And she’s got two dogs, Freddie and Harrie, whom she adores. But Rita has a big problem: Neil is the son of Amar Dewan, the man Rita’s mother once hoped to marry—before Amar left her for Neil’s mother. Because of the bad blood between their families, Rita is determined to keep her relationship a secret. But when she shows up at her parents’ for lunch to find her mother has also invited her ex-boyfriend Milan Rao, now a real estate agent who needs help flipping an unsellable house, Rita agrees to the project only to prove that she’s over him. To cement the idea, she signs herself and Neil up for famed Desi dating site MyShaadi, hoping that when they’re matched their families will bless the relationship. Instead, she matches with Milan. And when one house-flip turns to two, their proximity brings old feelings to the surface. The writing has some standout moments, from the author’s celebration of Indian American culture to her lush and mouthwatering descriptions of food. But too much space is taken up rehashing Rita’s feelings about the past, resulting in minimal romantic chemistry and characters who feel one-note—including Rita’s best friend, Rajvee, who's described as genderfluid but gets no on-page exploration of their identity beyond that.

This rom-com could have used a better setup.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-32871-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller


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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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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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