The scenario is sympathetic but the conceptual bones poke too visibly through this novel’s narrative skin.

EVENING

Returning to Toronto to sit shiva for her sister, Eve finds herself entering a seven-day hiatus from life, a time in which to not only mourn, but rethink the past, ponder the future, and reevaluate the sibling lost forever.

Methodical, conscientious Tam had achieved it all. Canada’s premier anchorwoman, she also possessed “a great marriage, a wonderful daughter and a new baby, fame and fortune.” Her sister, Eve, however, chose a different, messier life plan. Fleeing Canada to travel, then settling in New York, Eve, now 35, has a semiavailable boyfriend, an incomplete dissertation about unmarried British women writers in the interwar years, and a job teaching continuing education courses. Eve’s return to the family home to grieve her sister’s untimely death comes with the added discomfort that at their final meeting, two week earlier, the sisters argued so vehemently that they never spoke again. Being back also revives Eve’s feelings for Laurence, her childhood love, who is newly single and just as desirable. Could a cozy future in Toronto be hers? Rapoport’s tightly structured novel uses the seven-day Jewish mourning ritual to delve claustrophobically into Eve’s psychology and the family history that shaped it. Parents, grandparents, the sisters' seesaw relationship, and Eve's childhood memories are repeatedly scrutinized, interrupted by occasional plot nodes like a date with Laurence and a video from Tam, prepared before her death. Was Tam as perfect as she seemed? Who envied whom? Can Eve make better choices? These questions, both familiar and overworked, will all resolve themselves neatly as suggestions of moral lapses are excused by extenuating circumstances, and a couple of surprises help other issues melt away.

The scenario is sympathetic but the conceptual bones poke too visibly through this novel’s narrative skin.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64009-408-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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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 book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

THE BOARDWALK BOOKSHOP

Three woman who join together to rent a large space along the beach in Los Angeles for their stores—a gift shop, a bakery, and a bookstore—become fast friends as they each experience the highs, and lows, of love.

Bree is a friendly but standoffish bookstore owner who keeps everyone she knows at arm’s length, from guys she meets in bars to her friends. Mikki is a settled-in-her-routines divorced mother of two, happily a mom, gift-shop owner, and co-parent with her ex-husband, Perry. And Ashley is a young, very-much-in-love bakery owner specializing in muffins who devotes herself to giving back to the community through a nonprofit that helps community members develop skills and find jobs. When the women meet drooling over a boardwalk storefront that none of them can afford on her own, a plan is hatched to divide the space in three, and a friendship—and business partnership—is born. An impromptu celebration on the beach at sunset with champagne becomes a weekly touchpoint to their lives as they learn more about each other and themselves. Their friendship blossoms as they help each other, offering support, hard truths, and loving backup. Author Mallery has created a delightful story of friendship between three women that also offers a variety of love stories as they fall in love, make mistakes, and figure out how to be the best—albeit still flawed—versions of themselves. The men are similarly flawed and human. While the story comes down clearly on the side of all-encompassing love, Mallery has struck a careful balance: There is just enough sex to be spicy, just enough swearing to be naughty, and just enough heartbreak to avoid being cloying.

A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-778-38608-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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