A fresh rom-com with small-town charm and sparkling main characters.

THE SWEETHEART FIX

In the second installment of Liasson’s Blossom Glen series, a bighearted therapist and a reluctant mayor clash and then fall in love.

Juliet Montgomery and Jack Monroe are “fixers” by temperament and reputation. Juliet has started a marriage and family therapy practice after years of study inspired by a bout with serious depression as a teenager following her father’s death. The only problem is, her fellow townspeople of Blossom Glen, Indiana, are aware of Juliet’s multiple broken engagements and are reluctant to accept relationship counseling from her. Meanwhile, Texas transplant Jack has successfully become Blossom Glen’s mayor, leaving behind his dreams of a career as an architect in order to help the beloved grandmother who raised him. However, Jack’s people skills are severely lacking. When a suddenly underemployed Juliet stumbles into a town meeting and helps Jack resolve several conflicts among Blossom Glen’s quirky and spirited residents, Jack decides to employ her as a temporary “town counselor” while he tries to save his grandmother’s land from the Omnibuild corporation. Soon, a coworking relationship becomes much more, but Juliet has resolved to curb her emotional spontaneity and Jack is wary of getting serious, owing to trust issues stemming from his mother’s abandonment and his father’s unreliability. Can Juliet and Jack make it work and help preserve Blossom Glen? This series entry is a quintessential small-town romance that provides gentle humor and strong character development in abundance. Both Juliet and Jack are intelligent, accomplished, and deeply sympathetic to their friends’ and loved ones’ needs; in Juliet’s case, those loved ones include her sisters Tessa (the pastry chef protagonist of 2022’s The Sweetheart Deal, now happily married and pregnant) and Vivienne, who’s newly returned from Europe and working at a Christmas store while figuring out her life. The novel’s heat level doesn’t rise above kissing, but the chemistry between Juliet and Jack is palpable, whether they’re butting heads over town politics or eating ice cream on a dock. Juliet is also appealingly devoted to guiding others through mental health issues.

A fresh rom-com with small-town charm and sparkling main characters.

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64937-142-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Entangled: Amara

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: yesterday

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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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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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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