Enticing plot, winning dialogue and genuine historical backdrop, as befits a Regency romance.

MERELY A MISTER

AN AVALON HISTORICAL ROMANCE

In Ferguson’s (Major Lord David, 2010, etc.) latest historical romance, an ailing lord falls in love with the woman who restores him to health.

After the loss at Waterloo, Myles Trent—Lord Hayden—takes refuge at Lake Como, his European tour cut short by the fevers that periodically rack his body. His constitution depleted, Myles is determined to return home as soon as possible. En route, he takes ill and recuperates in the village of Wiswood at the countryside home of Anne Whyte, master herbalist and healer. Although Anne’s patient has the appearance of a gentleman, Anne knows him only as “Mister Myles.” During Myles’ convalescence, the two flirt and come to know one another; Lord Hayden’s identity remains unknown to both Anne and her father. A local, Perry Wenfield, hopes to wed Anne, but she rebuffs his advances. Myles, growing ever more enamored, resents Wenfield’s presence in her life. Soon, Myles is well enough to return to his obligations in Braughton, which may include seeking a proper wife from the Birdwistle clan. But will Lord Hayden honor his heart or familial duty? This is an enchanting story, set shortly after Napoleon’s exile to St. Helena. True to Avalon form, heroine Anne is independent; she is accomplished in her use of remedies, with a library of texts and a garden full of herbs for her concoctions. She masterfully prescribes horehound drops for the throat, rosewater compresses for a feverish brow and valerian for sleep. Best friend Vera serves as a touchstone, helping a subdued Anne give voice to her growing feelings for Myles and her doubts that she is his equal in station. Although proud, Myles is at Anne’s mercy in more ways than one, and his extended convalescence provides ample time for mutual affection, respect and admiration to flourish at a steady pace. The narrative has an authentic period feel, with a well-developed subtext about discontent among farmers after the Napoleonic Wars; this undercurrent is artfully used to advance relations between Anne and Myles. The verbal exchanges between these two gentlefolk are a mix of subtlety and spark, and a pleasure to read.

Enticing plot, winning dialogue and genuine historical backdrop, as befits a Regency romance.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0803474611

Page Count: 186

Publisher: Avalon Books

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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A warm and winning "When Harry Met Sally…" update that hits all the perfect notes.

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PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION

A travel writer has one last shot at reconnecting with the best friend she just might be in love with.

Poppy and Alex couldn't be more different. She loves wearing bright colors while he prefers khakis and a T-shirt. She likes just about everything while he’s a bit more discerning. And yet, their opposites-attract friendship works because they love each other…in a totally platonic way. Probably. Even though they have their own separate lives (Poppy lives in New York City and is a travel writer with a popular Instagram account; Alex is a high school teacher in their tiny Ohio hometown), they still manage to get together each summer for one fabulous vacation. They grow closer every year, but Poppy doesn’t let herself linger on her feelings for Alex—she doesn’t want to ruin their friendship or the way she can be fully herself with him. They continue to date other people, even bringing their serious partners on their summer vacations…but then, after a falling-out, they stop speaking. When Poppy finds herself facing a serious bout of ennui, unhappy with her glamorous job and the life she’s been dreaming of forever, she thinks back to the last time she was truly happy: her last vacation with Alex. And so, though they haven’t spoken in two years, she asks him to take another vacation with her. She’s determined to bridge the gap that’s formed between them and become best friends again, but to do that, she’ll have to be honest with Alex—and herself—about her true feelings. In chapters that jump around in time, Henry shows readers the progression (and dissolution) of Poppy and Alex’s friendship. Their slow-burn love story hits on beloved romance tropes (such as there unexpectedly being only one bed on the reconciliation trip Poppy plans) while still feeling entirely fresh. Henry’s biggest strength is in the sparkling, often laugh-out-loud-funny dialogue, particularly the banter-filled conversations between Poppy and Alex. But there’s depth to the story, too—Poppy’s feeling of dissatisfaction with a life that should be making her happy as well as her unresolved feelings toward the difficult parts of her childhood make her a sympathetic and relatable character. The end result is a story that pays homage to classic romantic comedies while having a point of view all its own.

A warm and winning "When Harry Met Sally…" update that hits all the perfect notes.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0675-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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