A sometimes-brutal but also heartwarming book about two people who learn life lessons from their war experiences.

RETURN TO EDEN

The second book in a historical fiction trilogy set in the Japanese-occupied Philippines during World War II.

Taylor’s (Eden Lost, 2014) latest picks up in 1941 with Joe Armand—the son of Joshua from the previous novel—who’s in Manila to arrange for the purchase of a ship. Joe knows of Joshua’s own experience in the Philippines, during which his father fell in love with a woman named Isabella. Although she’s not his mother, Joe wants to know more about this legendary woman. While waiting for orders, he wanders to the church where she was buried and meets Luci Blake, an American from Hawaii with bright red hair—and it’s love at first sight. Luci has come to the islands to join the Red Cross and has become a part of an elite social circle. She finds out more information about Isabella from her friend Leah Ramirez, a Spanish-American socialite. After Pearl Harbor is attacked in December 1941, the Japanese military bombs the Philippines and begins its invasion. Together, Joe and Luci face near-death experiences that serve to strengthen their already close bond. Leah helps Luci escape the Philippines on a ship bound for Australia, leaving Joe alone to avoid capture by the Japanese. At the last minute, though, Luci and Leah decide not to go. Separately, Luci and Joe fight for their lives; they eventually meet again, transforming from young lovers into guerrilla fighters opposing the Japanese occupation. Overall, Taylor has embarked on a great undertaking in this second novel in his trilogy. He incorporates a great deal of history into his novel—each chapter, for example, opens with a historical note or an entry from Leah’s journal. A common theme soon emerges in the parallel stories of Isabella and Luci of how women (and men) are changed by war. At times, though, the prose is hindered by its staccato rhythm, which is choppy rather than nimble. That said, Taylor does succeed in illustrating the complex history of WWII in the Pacific through the eyes of his characters.

A sometimes-brutal but also heartwarming book about two people who learn life lessons from their war experiences.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1501069413

Page Count: 254

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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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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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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