An adept and heart-wrenching rural drama with devastating LGBTQ+ themes.

CONFESSIONS

In this novel, the lives of a mortician, dentist, and retired biology teacher become agonizingly tangled in a small town in Appalachia.

Nathan Ashcraft, Tim Sawyer, and Sarah Lawrence are all outsiders in Wentz Hollow, Kentucky. Nathan, the town’s gay mortician, was born there. But he left not long after Sarah, his well-intentioned high school biology teacher, outed him to his parents, only to return when he is informed his father, Bart, has Alzheimer’s disease. Tim is a dentist from Seattle, a gay man as well, who had all the family support Nathan never did, pursuing rural dentistry to help reduce his student loan debt. The cheerful nature he puts on to hide his discomfort in the Appalachian hollers makes him a friend of Bart’s, despite his dementia, though he finds himself more attracted to Nathan’s boorish brother, Johnny, than the funeral director. Sarah is retired but still lives in Wentz Hollow. Her days as a self-proclaimed “fiercely liberal biology teacher, a free-thinker, an activist” who mixed abortifacients for girls in need are long over. Now, she lives with regrets over how she exposed Nathan and fantasizes that he will somehow find happiness with Steve Malone, his still closeted, now married high school love. Yet when Steve’s stillborn child is brought to the mortuary, Tim’s and Sarah’s secrets will force Nathan to reexamine the past. Eads nails the interconnectivity of small-town dramas like a neighborhood handyman who deftly wields a hammer. The pacing is excellent, doling out the story’s big reveals naturally and often turning moments that initially seem inconsequential, like a stop for coffee or a request for a cheap, ceramic urn, into impactful or heartbreaking scenes. The tale is told nonlinearly from the points of view of all three protagonists, though Sarah’s is in the form of a memoir-turned-letter to Nathan, a clever device that not only fits the character, but also keeps the narration from being complacent or repetitive. There is so much tragedy in the novel—involving family, love, identity, idealism, and more—along with just enough hope, that few readers will be able to keep their tears off the page.

An adept and heart-wrenching rural drama with devastating LGBTQ+ themes.

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2022

ISBN: 9781736596494

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Hex Publishers

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023

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

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IT STARTS WITH US

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 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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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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