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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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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