Overall, a quiet, sweet, slow-building story of spirit, faith, family, and community and the love that binds them—but not...

CHRISTMAS IN CORNWALL

A widower and his young son find a new life in a convent community of elderly nuns, which is close to the estate that’s been in their family for generations and is still home to his mother and her parents.

The book begins on Epiphany and ends the following Christmas, spanning a tumultuous year in which a tiny community of nuns hopes to be spiritually guided toward the right choices for their future, and the futures of the laypeople who are like family to them. Clem is their helper and jack-of-all-trades, and Janna is the commitment-phobic wanderer who's found an unexpected home in the community, while Jakey, Clem’s 5-year-old son, adds a generous helping of childlike wonder to the elderly women and their resident priest. Nearby, Clem’s mother, Dossie, and his aging grandparents, Pa and Mo, live at The Court, an estate that’s been in the family for generations and has, until recently, been run as a B&B. The book opens with threats to the convent from shady developers who hope to play some legal tricks on the nuns to gain control of the property without compensating its residents; and to The Court, when Dossie’s brother and his grasping girlfriend put pressure on Mo and Pa to sell the property and split the proceeds. Dossie, who has a history of bad luck in romance, becomes involved with a new, mysterious man, Rupert, throwing a wrench in Mo and Pa’s plans to have Dossie restart the B&B business and keep the property self-sustaining, intact and in the family. Over the course of the book, we see relationships tighten and mature, and hinted truths come out in both expected and unexpected ways. While the book is classified as a romance, nothing is completely settled in the end as far as the real and potential romances in the book go, and the slow pace and overt spiritual slant to the plot will leave many modern romance readers dissatisfied. For the right reader, this book has charm, appealing characterization and a sprawling, unhurried storytelling style—though Willett’s present-tense writing and occasional head-hopping may be distracting. For most contemporary romance fans, the lack of a convincing happily-ever-after ending and the not-quite-concrete plot wrap-up that speaks to more spiritually decisive conclusions, rather than romantic ones, will likely make them feel disappointed and misled by the romance designation.

Overall, a quiet, sweet, slow-building story of spirit, faith, family, and community and the love that binds them—but not really a romance.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-250-00370-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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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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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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