Standard inspirational romance by a genre master.

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SOMEBODY'S BABY

Since Sloan Gabriel won an American Idol–like reality show, her lifelong dream of fame and fortune has come true.

In the all-white world (save an Asian doctor) of McDaniel’s latest, 23-year-old Sloan is country music’s rising star. Her future is bright, and she refuses to look back at her old life in Windemere, Tennessee, where she grew up fatherless and with an alcoholic mother. Unfortunately, it appears Windemere won’t let go. When Sloan receives a letter from Lindsey Sloan Ridley, a woman who claims to be her half sister (Sloan was their father’s surname), she finds herself back in that rural Tennessee town. Lindsey is a cheerful and “courageous” stage 4 cancer patient who grew up with their famous musician father, and she can give Sloan some insight into his motives for leaving Sloan and her mother when Sloan was little. Also in Windemere, Sloan reconnects with Dawson and Alana, two old friends with whom she shares a painful past (a past referred to time and again and covered in full in Losing Gabriel, 2016). Before long, Sloan is forming a deep familial bond with Lindsey and Lindsey’s young son, Toby. She also fights her burgeoning lust for Lindsey’s neighbor, the ruggedly irresistible EMT Cole Langston. Major drawbacks include loads of back story, a narrative heavily marred by jarring switches in the third-person perspective at the paragraph level, and the conflation of alcoholism and “sleeping around” with poverty-stricken trailer-park life. Still, there’s no denying McDaniel’s command of her material.

Standard inspirational romance by a genre master. (Fiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-74423-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 2

Lara Jean's romantic entanglements complicate themselves further.

In the wake of the events detailed in To All the Boys I Loved Before (2014), Lara Jean confesses her love for handsome golden boy Peter. This frees the pair to start a romantic relationship with a clean slate, but over the course of the novel it becomes clear that embarking on a relationship that turns an aggressive blind eye to baggage is never a good idea. When a viral video of a steamy love session between Peter and Lara Jean rears its ugly head and a boy from the past enters Lara Jean's life once more, Lara Jean's life gets complicated. Every character from Han’s adored previous novel is back, with new dimensions given to nearly every one of them. Subplots abound, among them two involving Lara Jean's father and Peter's ex-gal Genevieve, but benefitting most from this second look is John Ambrose McClaren, a boy briefly referenced in the former book who is thrust into the spotlight here as Peter's rival for Lara Jean's heart. With all these characters bouncing around, Han occasionally struggles to keep a steady hand on the novel's primary thrust: Lara Jean’s emotional development. Han gets the job done in the end, but this overeventful sequel pales to the original where structure is concerned. The author's greatest success remains her character work, and the book does indeed give everyone a solid arc, narrative be damned.

A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2673-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2015

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