Two good people find love in this emotional, slow-burn romance.

ISLAND AFFAIR

A social media influencer asks a firefighter to pretend to be her boyfriend during a stressful family vacation in Key West.

Sara Vance is panicked. She arrived in Florida for a weeklong family vacation only to be stood up by the man she’d been casually dating. Her mother is in recovery from a recent bout with cancer, and this vacation was supposed to help knit her fractured family closer together. Sara is the youngest sibling and an underachiever—her parents and both siblings are high-powered doctors—and Sara worries that being dumped will either make her the butt of the family’s jokes or cause her mom to worry. Enter kind, handsome Key West firefighter Luis Navarro. Luis has an unplanned week of vacation; his captain insisted he take time off to get his emotional bearings after handling a particularly gruesome car accident. After meeting a distressed Sara when she arrives in Key West, he agrees to play the part of her boyfriend—anything to avoid his own feelings and family dramas. The story’s opening is tight and compelling, but the middle section drifts by without much conflict, just Sara and Luis ruminating about past mistakes and marveling at how easy it is to be together. The Key West setting is lovingly portrayed, showing how local families struggle with the rising costs of living on an island paradise. Also notable: Sara is in recovery from an eating disorder she developed in college, and the book carefully portrays her determination to implement her therapist’s advice and avoid triggers, all while refusing to succumb to her family’s overbearing concern. Oliveras has a gift for showcasing how new lovers navigate introducing romantic partners to their families. Eventually, the plot snaps together and Luis and Sara realize they are stronger together than apart.

Two good people find love in this emotional, slow-burn romance.

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4201-5017-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Zebra/Kensington

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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The most comforting of comfort-food reading—with a few chills for fun.

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LEGACY

Roberts sticks to formula in this romantic thriller—which should please fans and newcomers alike.

The only daughter of a woman with a wildly successful fitness company, 7-year-old Adrian Rizzo is used to traveling with her mother for videos and photo shoots, the child star of the brand. But everything changes one night when a man breaks into their house, confronts her mother for destroying his marriage, and then dies in a fall down the stairs. Adrian spends the summer with her beloved grandparents, enjoying the idyllic pace of small-town life and making some strong connections. Several years later, teenage Adrian gains the confidence to start her own business with the help of some high school misfits who become her best friends. Fast-forward a few years: Adrian’s grandmother dies in an accident followed by the death of a friend's wife. Adrian decides to move in with her grandfather and to finally make a home. As frequently happens in Roberts’ novels, Adrian's friends all end up living nearby, and they create a loyal, loving network that sees them all through marriage, birth, loss, success, and the other touchstones of maturity. In the background lurks a threat, though: For years, Adrian has been receiving disturbing letters signed only "The Poet," and they begin to arrive more frequently. Adrian’s perfect, messy, successful life—and blossoming relationship—may be in danger from this psychopath, but her friends and family will be there to support and protect her to the happiest of endings. If you're a fan of Roberts’ thrillers, the structure of this novel will bring few surprises, but the familiarity is comforting. Roberts’ strength has always been her ability to create likable, complex characters, and this crew is even more appealing than most—they are never whiny in insecurity or snobbish in success; rather, they provide unwavering support for each other’s ups and downs.

The most comforting of comfort-food reading—with a few chills for fun.

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2502-7293-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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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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