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A DASH OF ROMANCE

A charming, character-driven work that will appeal to 21st-century romantics.

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A series-starting Regency romance about a vicar’s daughter faking an engagement, followed by a series of short stories.

Each book in Golden’s new series is an anthology containing a novel and a series of flash-fiction tales that originally appeared in the author’s monthly newsletter. All center on themes of love in the Regency or Georgian era, and the stories feature Trang’s occasional black-and-white illustrations, which often depict specific characters. The titular novel is a Regency romance with protagonist Abbie Walsley, the youngest of a vicar’s four daughters in the sleepy but charming town of Sidvale in England’s Devonshire County. She’s a writer, concocting adventures of her ideal knight in shining armor, “Sir Bartholomew,” while providing tips as the town’s advice columnist, “Mrs. Button,” in the local newspaper. As she’s financially stable, she has no urgent need to marry, and she resolves not to do so unless it’s for love. When Viscount Lord Dunley proposes to her, under orders from his mother, Abbie panics and lies, saying she’s already betrothed to Sir Bartholomew. In an unexpected turn of events, Dunley falsely believes that Percy Randall, the philandering second son of the Earl of Camforth, is Abbie’s betrothed. As Abbie and Percy attempt to preserve their reputations, they strike a mutually beneficial deal—but soon they must contend with their growing mutual attraction. Golden creates tangible chemistry between the apparent London rake and the outwardly drab vicar’s daughter. She also importantly acknowledges the era’s diversity with the inclusion of Leila Owen, a woman of East Indian origin who’s a member of the literary society that Abbie attends, and effectively shows how neither Abbie nor Percy match the stereotypical first impressions they have of each other. Overall, the novel’s greatest strength is its steady, careful character development. By comparison, the flash-fiction pieces, though entertaining, often feel rushed. However, the author shows great creativity with these vignettes, particularly “Midsummer,” about two lovers waiting to be reunited, and “Haunted,” a gothic-horror–inspired tale of a romantic encounter.

A charming, character-driven work that will appeal to 21st-century romantics.

Pub Date: July 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73523-600-1

Page Count: 337

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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JUST FOR THE SUMMER

A wallowing, emotionally wrenching family drama that leaves little time for romance.

Two people with bad luck in relationships find each other through a popular Reddit thread.

Emma Grant and her best friend, Maddy, are travel nurses, working at hospitals for three-month stints while they see the country. Just a few weeks before they’re set to move to Hawaii, Emma reads a popular “Am I the Asshole” Reddit thread from a Minnesota man who thinks he’s cursed—women he dates find their soulmates after breaking up with him, and the latest one found true love with his best friend! Emma has had a similar experience, which inspires her to DM the man and commiserate. She’s delighted by her witty, lively interactions with software engineer Justin Dahl, and is intrigued when he suggests that if they date each other, maybe they’ll each find their soulmate afterward. Emma upends the Hawaii plan and convinces Maddy to move to Minneapolis for the summer so she can meet Justin in person. The overly complex setup brings Emma and Justin together and the two hit it off, with Justin immediately falling head over heels for Emma. Jimenez then pivots to creating romantic roadblocks and melodramatic subplots centering on each character’s family of origin. Justin’s mother is about to serve six years in prison for embezzlement, which means Justin must move back home to care for his three much younger siblings. Emma was traumatized by her own mother for much of her childhood, left to fend for herself and eventually abandoned in the foster system. When her mother shows up in Minnesota, Emma must face her traumatic childhood and admit that she has prioritized her mother’s well-being over her own. There is little time devoted to Emma’s painful efforts to heal herself enough to accept Justin’s love, which leaves the novel feeling unsatisfying.

A wallowing, emotionally wrenching family drama that leaves little time for romance.

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781538704431

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Forever

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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IT ENDS WITH US

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

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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 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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