A poignant look at family lost and love regained.

SOMEONE PERFECT

An unlikely couple is brought together by their similar experiences of flawed parents in this Regency romance that's adjacent to Balogh's Westcott family series.

Lady Estelle Lamarr is content with a life involving her twin brother and their foster parents and cousins now that she and her sibling have reconciled with their once-absentee father, the Marquess of Dorchester. If she thinks of marriage, it’s with someone who has a blithe spirit. When a chance encounter with a dour man on a horse shakes her up, she shrugs it off only to encounter him again at a neighboring friend’s home—he is Justin Wiley, the mysterious Earl of Brandon. Justin has braved the suspicions and innuendos of high society after disappearing for years and then, upon inheriting his title, banishing his stepmother and half sister, Maria, to a smaller estate. With the dowager countess now dead, he wants to ensconce Maria in society and begins by bringing her back to their ancestral seat. Neither Maria nor her friend Estelle are happy with this turn of events, but Maria consents to the journey, with Estelle and her brother going along as moral support. Initially convinced of Justin’s boorishness and arrogance, Estelle reluctantly realizes that Justin is a kind, private man who loves his sister. As more family members congregate, she guesses at the secret that has kept him away and falls in love with his imperfections and virtues. Many of Balogh’s strengths are on display here—there's family drama staged in a nostalgic Regency country-house culture; the characters’ inner selves are carefully revealed through their actions; the reluctant attraction between Estelle and Justin crests as their surface incompatibilities fade; and there's a series of scenes peopled by a wholesome supporting cast. The off notes come from two missteps similar to those she has made in other recent novels: There's a villainous portrait of a woman, which feels retrograde, and a sentimental stereotype of a developmentally disabled character who largely functions to testify to Justin’s goodness.

A poignant look at family lost and love regained.

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593335-29-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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IT STARTS WITH US

The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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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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