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

MIXED BUSINESS

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

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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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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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