A mature novel about love and marriage in modern India’s middle class.

SUNLIT HEARTS

In Mehrotra’s novel, a passionate affair with an old love transforms a writer’s marriage and life.

Though it started out well enough, Medha and Rishi’s arranged marriage has been less than satisfying. After being disappointed to find that her college crush, Nikhil, didn’t return her feelings, Medha married young and settled into a mundane life with Rishi, who seemed to take her for granted. She finds happiness writing fiction in her spare time between running their household in Delhi and caring for their son, Yash. As the years go by, she finds herself less and less physically attracted to Rishi, whom she resents for failing to understand how much her art means to her. Their marriage is strained even further when Rishi’s job with a computer company demands that the family leave India to relocate to Oman. While there, Medha completes her first novel; she’s thrilled when it finds a publisher and seems poised to be a big success. At a launch party, she’s shocked to be reunited with Nikhil, who’s now an advertising executive in an unfulfilling marriage of his own. There’s still a powerful connection between them. Certain she can no longer bear living in Oman, Medha returns to Delhi without Rishi, and they separate. Medha and Nikhil begin an affair, with their passionate lovemaking inciting an emotional awakening that transforms the way she views the world and her past relationships, including her parents’ troubled marriage. Meanwhile, Rishi, traumatized by Medha’s abandonment, begins to reflect on his own shortcomings as a husband; he vows to win her back. This exploration of compromises and challenges in marriage may resonate even with those foreign to the arranged-marriage custom. Mehrotra also offers a nuanced portrait of an adulterous affair: Medha and Rishi aren’t blameless in the disintegration of their marriage, and Nikhil isn’t a cad or a knight in shining armor. Though the novel focuses on Medha, several chapters are written from Rishi’s and Nikhil’s points of view, which helps illuminate the differences between Medha’s idea of herself and her marriage and the way the men perceive her. Rather than dramatizing the emotions, characters’ reflections and their internal attempts to sort out their own feelings tell much of the story, which may disappoint some readers. A light copy edit would help, too. Nonetheless, Medha is an engaging, introspective character, and the novel avoids the common clichés that often attend stories of adulterous love triangles.

A mature novel about love and marriage in modern India’s middle class.

Pub Date: April 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1468009002

Page Count: 346

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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A warm and winning "When Harry Met Sally…" update that hits all the perfect notes.

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PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION

A travel writer has one last shot at reconnecting with the best friend she just might be in love with.

Poppy and Alex couldn't be more different. She loves wearing bright colors while he prefers khakis and a T-shirt. She likes just about everything while he’s a bit more discerning. And yet, their opposites-attract friendship works because they love each other…in a totally platonic way. Probably. Even though they have their own separate lives (Poppy lives in New York City and is a travel writer with a popular Instagram account; Alex is a high school teacher in their tiny Ohio hometown), they still manage to get together each summer for one fabulous vacation. They grow closer every year, but Poppy doesn’t let herself linger on her feelings for Alex—she doesn’t want to ruin their friendship or the way she can be fully herself with him. They continue to date other people, even bringing their serious partners on their summer vacations…but then, after a falling-out, they stop speaking. When Poppy finds herself facing a serious bout of ennui, unhappy with her glamorous job and the life she’s been dreaming of forever, she thinks back to the last time she was truly happy: her last vacation with Alex. And so, though they haven’t spoken in two years, she asks him to take another vacation with her. She’s determined to bridge the gap that’s formed between them and become best friends again, but to do that, she’ll have to be honest with Alex—and herself—about her true feelings. In chapters that jump around in time, Henry shows readers the progression (and dissolution) of Poppy and Alex’s friendship. Their slow-burn love story hits on beloved romance tropes (such as there unexpectedly being only one bed on the reconciliation trip Poppy plans) while still feeling entirely fresh. Henry’s biggest strength is in the sparkling, often laugh-out-loud-funny dialogue, particularly the banter-filled conversations between Poppy and Alex. But there’s depth to the story, too—Poppy’s feeling of dissatisfaction with a life that should be making her happy as well as her unresolved feelings toward the difficult parts of her childhood make her a sympathetic and relatable character. The end result is a story that pays homage to classic romantic comedies while having a point of view all its own.

A warm and winning "When Harry Met Sally…" update that hits all the perfect notes.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0675-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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