An atmospheric tale that deftly captures the leisure and egos of its expensive spa setting.


A group of frustrated women tries to savor a luxury spa with an uncertain future in this debut novel.

For the past 25 years, Nadia Demidova has been the director of Lavender Lane in Palm Springs, California, one of the world’s most exclusive spas. She likes to observe her guests arriving from behind the two-way mirror in her office—she can always pick out the difficult ones. The clients for the current 10-day session may be just that: Mavis Perkins, an ex-model married to one of the wealthiest men in Chicago; Charlotte Tanner, an overweight Texas housewife accompanied by her sex-curious teenage daughter, Lauren; Toni Etheridge, a former fashion buyer; and Dr. Eleanor Franklin, the CEO of a nutritional company who is hiding out after a plastic surgery gone awry. The session gets off to a rocky start, but with the help of her assistant director, Phoebe Bancroft, Nadia soon has the clients making friends and swapping sob stories over healthy dinners and relaxing beautification treatments. Then Nadia dies suddenly of a heart attack, and the spa’s future is up in the air. Phoebe hopes that she can run it herself, but when Nadia’s handsome and eligible son, Peter Culvane, arrives, the competition begins to see who can snag the bachelor—and the spa along with him. Melhado’s prose is smooth and sybaritic, giving one the sense of reading a novel set inside a series of glossy magazine ads: “Peter Culvane admired the rich patina and clean lines of his Biedermeier credenza as he sipped coffee from an old mug. He certainly had access to the best china money could buy, but somehow coffee always tasted better in the chipped and discolored Stamford classic he had used since college days.” The plot is fairly low stakes—one storyline revolves heavily around a quince-scented face cream—and everything wraps up in a neat way, just as readers will expect. Even so, the author manages to achieve a mostly satisfying mix of humor, sexual tension, female friendship, and spiritual rejuvenation.

An atmospheric tale that deftly captures the leisure and egos of its expensive spa setting.

Pub Date: May 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68433-464-3

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: April 20, 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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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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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.


Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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