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WIVES LIKE US

If you like this sort of thing, you’ll dive in and never look back.

The world’s most competent butler navigates a storm of romantic and financial complications among the British elite.

Sykes gives Kevin Kwan a run for his money in this saga of obscene wealth, designer outfits, miniature dog breeds, and over-the-top landscaping set in Oxfordshire, a rural area of vast estates now mostly in the hands of the nouveau riche. Ian Palmer, a summa cum laude graduate of the Greycoats’ Butler Institute in Mayfair, is known not just for his impeccable outfits, his Colin-Firth-in-A-Single-Man eyeglasses, and his vintage Gucci loafer collection, but for his superhuman ability to manage his employers’ lives. His boss, Tata Hawkins, needs his help as never before since her businessman husband, Bryan, has opened a spot in his in-house mentoring program to a “bikini influencer” named Tallulah de Sanchez (“twenty-six, looked thirty-six due to addiction to eyelash extensions and lip fillers”) and her dog, Pikachu. (As Kwan does with educational resumes, Sykes intros each character with a beady-eyed assessment of their real and apparent ages.) Infuriated by finding a receipt in Bryan’s office for a piece of jewelry that certainly wasn’t a gift for her, Tata has taken her beloved factotum and her daughter, Minty, and decamped to a guesthouse on the property, creating a tsunami of snarky gossip and leaving Ian with nowhere appropriate to store his loafer collection. Of course the solution involves throwing a massive party—supposedly an intimate “Kitchen Supper”—to welcome the area’s newest arriviste, an American named Selby Fairfax, and naturally this causes Tata’s friends to compete by throwing their own parties, one of which is a hilariously elaborate equestrian event called a hack. Poor Selby has had to flee New York after her husband very publicly left her for his boyfriend, but Sykes thoughtfully provides her with a Mr. Darcy, a hot, rich farmer who storms into the story when her children accidentally kill his cow. Crazy Rich Brits may not have the amazing cuisine of their Asian counterparts, but they are just as scheming, fabulous, and fun to read about.

If you like this sort of thing, you’ll dive in and never look back.

Pub Date: May 14, 2024

ISBN: 9780062429087

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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IT STARTS WITH US

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

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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 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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