THE LOCKHART WOMEN

An emotional portrait of three women dealing with unexpected change.

A family is thrown into chaos in 1990s Southern California in Camarillo’s debut historical novel.

On June 17, 1994—the same day that O.J. Simpson fled police in a white Ford Bronco—Brenda Lockhart attends a party and learns that her husband, Frank, is having an affair. He soon moves out of their house, leaving Brenda to care for their two teenage daughters, Allison and Peggy, a task for which she isn’t very skilled—particularly as the household takes a financial hit. Practical, organized Peggy wants to be an accountant but ends up working with her father at the post office after she turns 18. She has an affair with an older co-worker who’s uninterested in commitment, and the fallout from the relationship further complicates her plans. Flighty Allison is dating a surfer named Kevin Nelsonthat none of her family members like, but that only seems to increase his appeal in her eyes. She lives with his family for a time, but Kevin is abusive, and Allison blames herself for his behavior. She also shoplifts and gets mixed up with Kevin’s family’s drug business—all of which eventually catches up with her. Throughout, Brenda obsesses over every detail of the Simpson case as more details are revealed, neglecting to shower or do household chores. All three women must find ways to navigate themselves out of difficult situations. Brenda comes off as judgmental and unwilling to compromise at first, and as a result, readers may find her cold and unsympathetic. However, as the novel progresses, she matures as a character, moving to a more affordable place to live, finding a job, and becoming a more attentive mother. The author uses the Simpson trial as an indicator for Brenda’s growth; by the time the verdict is rendered, she’s doing better for herself than when the legal proceedings began, and she’s less consumed by them. Peggy and Allison aren’t always likable, either, but they also learn to make better decisions, and the novel’s ending is a satisfying one.

An emotional portrait of three women dealing with unexpected change.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64742-100-7

Page Count: 342

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2021

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

GIRL ABROAD

A spicy novel that’s a must-read for fans of a British accent.

A rock star’s daughter decides to study abroad in search of her own experiences, finding romance and intrigue along the way.

For 19-year-old Abbey Bly, having a rock star for a father isn’t as glamorous as it seems. For one thing, she shares her name with Abbey Road, and for another, the only version of the famous Gunner Bly she knows is the helicopter parent she lives with in Nashville. Hoping to find her way outside her father’s sphere of influence, Abbey decides to spend a semester in London studying European history at Pembridge University. Promising to keep her father updated on every aspect of life abroad, Abbey heads to her shared apartment expecting to find three female roommates…only to find that she’s actually living with three men. Afraid that Gunner will order her home, Abbey decides to keep Lee, Jack, and Jamie’s gender a secret (lucky their names sound androgynous!) and sets her sights on adventure. While working on a research project about a mysterious painting and adapting to Britain’s drinking culture, Abbey finds time to explore a little romance despite her housemates’ strict no-fraternizing rule. First there’s Jack, a commitment-phobic Australian hottie who can’t seem to stay away from Abbey; then there’s Nate, a sexy bassist who keeps forgetting he’s taken. Toying with nonexclusive relationships and exploring her sexuality, Abbey can’t help but feel excited about all the experience she’s gaining, but has she really, truly found herself? Kennedy’s novel is a page-turner—who wouldn’t want to travel to a foreign country and meet interested potential lovers down the hall? Abbey is a relatable character who yearns to stand outside her father’s shadow, and though the love triangle is a focal point, it never outshines the heroine’s growth.

A spicy novel that’s a must-read for fans of a British accent.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2024

ISBN: 9781728299792

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Bloom Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

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