McFarlane has created a very funny, very romantic story with deep emotional impact.

IF I NEVER MET YOU

A jilted British attorney gets more than she bargained for when she agrees to a fauxmance with the office playboy.

Laurie Watkinson has a corporate law job she loves, dear friends, and Dan, her dependable live-in boyfriend who works in the same firm. When Dan sits her down one evening, Laurie expects anything but to hear him say he's moving out; and then to hear soon after that he has a new girlfriend. Hoping for a bit of revenge, newly single Laurie agrees to pose as “Phony Goddess” to “Greek God” Jamie Carter, her new colleague and a known “soulless womanizer.” Jamie is gorgeous and charming but needs to appear settled to secure a promotion, and he thinks earning the affection of Laurie, the firm’s “golden girl,” is the surest route. Jamie and Laurie are attracted to one another, make each other laugh, and, they learn, have childhood trauma in common. Jamie is a classic playboy felled by love who’s written endearingly and convincingly: “I scoffed at the idea anyone could make you see your life through new eyes and I’m so, so glad to be wrong.” Laurie’s intelligence and acerbic wit—especially as they relate to navigating English society as a woman of color—are strengths that can obscure uncomfortable feelings. Thanks to a selfish, absentee father, an unconventional mother, and, she now realizes, a partner who never encouraged her to grow as a person, Laurie puts her own desires last. Giving the novel an expanded palette beyond the romance, Laurie’s friendship with Jamie is just one of several changes in behavior and attitude that help her to regain a sense of her own agency and importance. McFarlane’s gift is writing romantic comedy that depicts a recognizable world—in this case, the culturally diverse world of young professionals in Manchester, England—without dimming the luster of shining moments of humor, love, and connection.

McFarlane has created a very funny, very romantic story with deep emotional impact.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-295850-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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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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