Fans of Downton Abbey will revel in everything they love about a big, fat 19th-century yarn.

HER HEART FOR A COMPASS

A headstrong heroine—the daughter of a duke—fights her way through Victorian mores to self-realization.

Ferguson, the Duchess of York, author of many children's books, weight-loss guides, and memoirs, collaborates here with Marguerite Kaye, a Scottish writer of historical romances, to create a vivid, juicy, and well-researched novel set in Victorian England and New York City. When we first meet Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott, it is 1865 and she is an 18-year-old with a 19-inch waist being led like a lamb to the slaughter to the London ballroom where everyone who's anyone has gathered to hear her father, the Duke of Buccleuch (a world-class asshole, not to put too fine a point on it), announce her engagement to the cold, repellent Earl of Killin. "Our estates have lots of sheep. He has woollen mills. In more ways than one, it will be a marriage made in heaven," says her father. Lady Margaret begs to differ—and rather than enter the hall, she bolts, though she has never before ventured beyond the garden gate of the manor. A friend of her father's tries to stop her to no avail as she rushes without a plan into the wilds of the urban landscape, strikingly evoked with particular attention to the olfactory. She meets her first poor person—a Crimean war veteran who has lost his legs—resulting in an awakening that will shape the rest of her life. We follow her into her late 20s, through exile in Ireland, across the Atlantic, and back, the narrative supplemented by newspaper articles and letters from her friends and family. Like her fictional contemporary Jo March, Margaret has great hair, a gift for writing, a feminist spirit, and a drive to help others; in a clever touch, she buys a stack of signed copies of Little Women for her friends back home. Several of the titled characters are based on Ferguson's ancestors, and her understanding of peerage protocol seems more than just research-based.

Fans of Downton Abbey will revel in everything they love about a big, fat 19th-century yarn.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-297652-9

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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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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REMINDERS OF HIM

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.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

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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