MIXED BUSINESS

An interracial attraction complicates an alluring romance in a book with a likable, grounded heroine.

A black woman falls for her white boss—and then finds her life in danger—in Zoe’s debut romantic thriller, set in the 1990s.

Nora Richards has worked her way up to her current position at Tillman and Associates, a marketing and public relations firm in an unnamed but apparently American city. The 27-year-old is the “relations coordinator,” a job that mostly consists of billing and collections. But Nora’s biggest obstacle is organizing old, handwritten paper files. She reports to Cheryl, supervisor of customer accounts, but is awaiting a new boss. After meeting and spending a flirtatious evening with Mr. Douglas, a handsome stranger, Nora learns that he is her new boss, Sherman. This is the first time that Nora, who is black, has been attracted to a white man like Sherman. Meanwhile, Nora gets a threatening phone call; a female voice demands she give up “that Johnson file.” She has no idea what that file is, though Cheryl, who suddenly and mysteriously took a job in Italy, had earlier requested it. The telephonic threat quickly escalates into a physical assault against Nora. While she’s subsequently determined to find that file, Nora resists her attraction to Sherman even if the feelings are unquestionably mutual. This novel is more romance than thriller, and the author devotes ample time to character development. Nora is a tenacious protagonist, diving into a heavy workload with gusto and few complaints. Her romance with Sherman is equally appealing and faces believable challenges, including people who object to the relationship or imply that Nora trades sex for better job prospects. Impressively, Zoe gives potency to a steamy scene and occasional violence in simple prose, sans coarse or explicit language. The story is nevertheless predictable on the thriller front, from where the Johnson file is to the identity of at least one person menacing Nora.

An interracial attraction complicates an alluring romance in a book with a likable, grounded heroine.

Pub Date: Dec. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-72830-106-8

Page Count: 390

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

FANGIRL DOWN

This golf romance is a winner.

A professional golfer trying to make a comeback hires his biggest fan to be his caddy.

Despondent and demoralized at his terrible season, professional golfer Wells Whitaker decides to quit the pro circuit. He’s already been dumped by his mentor, his sponsors, and his agent—why not throw in the towel himself? The only person left on his side is Josephine Doyle, his most devoted fan, a woman so dedicated to his career that she’s given herself the moniker “Wells’s Belle.” Josephine has been following the golfer’s career for years, and she can’t help but feel betrayed when he abandons the game. After a hurricane destroys her family’s Palm Beach pro shop, Josephine is surprised to find Wells at her door. He’s had a change of heart and is determined to give himself one last chance on the pro circuit. Wells has secured a spot at an upcoming tournament in San Antonio and wants Josephine to be his caddy. She can’t say no. The money she earns will allow her to rebuild the shop and afford health insurance, which is crucial for managing her diabetes. Once they’re at the tournament, their obvious camaraderie and their chemistry make them the target of gossip and speculation in the press. Wells feels intensely possessive and protective of Josephine while still respecting her autonomy, and Josephine learns that her faith in him was not misplaced. Although several of the initial plot pieces feel manufactured, the emotional connection between Josephine and Wells is vibrant and alive. They fit together perfectly, with each growing and benefiting from their professional and romantic partnership. Bailey delivers her trademark high-heat, spicy romance, but it’s the emotional connection between Wells and Josephine that makes the book a winner.

This golf romance is a winner.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2024

ISBN: 9780063308367

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023

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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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