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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A breezy tale perfect for a day at the beach, this one’s a real winner.

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THE HATING GAME

Lucy Hutton absolutely detests her office mate Joshua Templeman. He’s a pompous, self-important, obnoxious ass. But, she’s got to admit, he is pretty cute.

From the moment they meet, a result of the unwelcome corporate merger between their employers, Lucy and Joshua are at odds. Joshua is assistant to the CEO of what was once Bexley Publishing, a numbers-crunching, foosball-playing frat house–cum-business. Lucy is assistant to the CEO of the now-defunct Gamin Publishing, a Birkenstock-clad, free-flowing commune of literary purists. When the two companies begrudgingly become one, so does the executive suite. Thus begins this hate-at-first-sight romantic comedy. Lucy and Joshua’s daily interactions include the staring game, the mirror game, and the HR game, each played with the intensity of the Hunger Games. Their mutual antipathy grows when a new executive position opens at Bexley-Gamin Publishing and both Lucy's and Joshua’s bosses think their protégés would be the perfect choice. Here the high-stakes game begins. After yet another 60-hour work week, which now includes prepping for upcoming interviews, Lucy logs off of her computer (Password: IHATEJOSHUA4EV@) to head home, but not before her rival hops into the elevator with her. When Joshua hits the emergency button and stops the ride, Lucy is certain her nemesis is going to kill her. Instead, he plants a (completely consensual) kiss on her that awakens something she hadn’t known existed. Debut novelist Thorne delivers something nearly impossible: an entirely predictable plot that is also completely fresh, original, and utterly charming. From the opening page, readers will know the outcome of Lucy and Joshua’s relationship, but what happens in between is magic. From Lucy’s hilarious inner dialogue to Joshua’s sharp retorts, the chemistry between them is irresistibly adorable—and smokin’ hot.

A breezy tale perfect for a day at the beach, this one’s a real winner.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-243959-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Romance and melodrama mix uneasily with mass murder.

THE WINTER GUEST

An 18-year-old Polish girl falls in love, swoons over a first kiss, dreams of marriage—and, oh yes, we are in the middle of the Holocaust.

Jenoff (The Ambassador’s Daughter, 2013, etc.) weaves a tale of fevered teenage love in a time of horrors in the early 1940s, as the Nazis invade Poland and herd Jews into ghettos and concentration camps. A prologue set in 2013, narrated by a resident of the Westchester Senior Center, provides an intriguing setup. A woman and a policeman visit the resident and ask if she came from a small Polish village. Their purpose is unclear until they mention bones recently found there: “And we think you might know something about them.” The book proceeds in the third person, told from the points of view mostly of teenage Helena, who comes upon an injured young Jewish-American soldier, and sometimes of her twin, Ruth, who is not as adventurous as Helena but is very competitive with her. Their father is dead, their mother is dying in a hospital, and they are raising their three younger siblings amid danger and hardship. The romance between Helena and Sam, the soldier, is often conveyed in overheated language that doesn’t sit well with the era’s tragic events: “There had been an intensity to his embrace that said he was barely able to contain himself, that he also wanted more.” Jenoff, clearly on the side of tolerance, slips in a simplified historical framework for the uninformed. But she also feeds stereotypes, having Helena note that Sam has “a slight arch to his nose” and a dark complexion that “would make him suspect as a Jew immediately.” Clichés also pop up during the increasingly complex plot: “But even if they stood in place, the world around them would not.”

Romance and melodrama mix uneasily with mass murder.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7783-1596-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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