The emphasis on escalating action makes for a fast-paced but emotionally unsatisfying romance.

THE WEDDING CRASHER

An associate lawyer asks a woman to pretend to be his girlfriend to impress the partners at his law firm.

Solange Pereira is helping her cousin work a wedding at a fancy Washington, D.C., hotel when something unexpected happens: Right before the ceremony, she overhears the bride confessing her love for another man. Although it’s awkward and uncomfortable, Solange disrupts the wedding, knowing this couple could never be happy. Dean Chapman is left at the altar but doesn’t seem overly bothered by this turn of events—he wasn’t in love; it was nothing more than a “modern-day marriage of convenience” to him. He intends to make partner before he turns 30, and having a wife and a family are just steps on the road to the kind of stability he never had as a child. When he returns to work a week later, the partners need two associates to woo a potential new hire. Only couples can be a part of the recruitment effort, so Dean impulsively asks Solange to pretend to be his girlfriend, figuring she owes him for disrupting his wedding. Solange feels guilty about her part in the fiasco and agrees to help him out. Faking dating proves difficult; Solange and Dean not only have to fool the associate who is in competition with Dean for a partnership promotion, but also keep the truth from her loving, nosy family. The modern rom-com can be a tightrope for authors who have to balance believable, zany antics with tight, authentic characterization. Sosa errs on the side of madcap plotting, with Solange and Dean responding reactively to crisis after crisis rather than moving their romance forward because of their feelings and choices.

The emphasis on escalating action makes for a fast-paced but emotionally unsatisfying romance.

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-290989-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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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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