An interesting melodramatic setup is undermined by the characters’ disappointing and head-scratching choices.

TO LOVE & BETRAY

When a wealthy African-American businessman is accused of trying to kill his troublemaking half brother, it throws his family off balance as they try to prove his innocence and save their company.

Evan Murdoch is thrown in jail on attempted murder charges even though it’s obvious his half brother, Dante Turner, is lying as to who tried to kill him. As Evan waits for bail, Dante tries to coerce Evan’s fiancee, Leila, into having sex with him by telling her he’ll drop the charges if she does. Thankfully Leila doesn’t go too far, realizing he just wants to hurt Evan. Meanwhile, Evan’s sister, Paulette, is concerned that her son may not be her husband’s, and their brother Terrence is engaged to C. J., a newspaper reporter. Evan’s soon-to-be ex-wife, Charisse, continues to vie for his attention. So when she has information that will likely exonerate him, it sends Leila into a jealous fit. Paulette finds the perfect nanny, and Terrence gets a surprise on his doorstep that may drive C. J. away. Talented author Ellis continues the soap-operatic lives of the Murdoch family (Lust & Loyalty, 2017, etc.) to mixed results. As Evan notes, “Unrest and upheaval were painful and consistent realities for the Murdochs. They couldn’t get away from it!” Except that the Murdoch characters, who are ostensibly good, intelligent people, do and say the exact wrong thing at every possible turn. And Dante, who’s a jerk but is supposed to at least be smart, evidently isn’t. Background checks? Communication? Fidelity? Not in the Murdoch repertoire. Kicking out your teen daughter who's dealing drugs? Not seeking treatment when you’re clearly hooked on oxy? Obviously not in Dante’s toolbox. Furthermore, much of the dramatic tension blows up and dissipates almost immediately, so it feels like we’re careening from strife to tumult without buildup or character growth.

An interesting melodramatic setup is undermined by the characters’ disappointing and head-scratching choices.

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4967-0881-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dafina/Kensington

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

MAYBE SOMEDAY

Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson. 

Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty. 

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5316-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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