An engaging, sometimes-chilling, and often melancholy tale of the pioneer spirit.

DOGWOOD CROSSING

Frye’s novel tells the story of a post–Revolutionary War tenant farmer and his family who head west to Louisiana for a better future.

It’s the fall of 1798, and Sam Rolens’ father has just died. Sam wants to move his family to what he believes will be greener pastures, where good land is “free for the cost of a survey.” He’s the only one of his family members who initially wants to leave, but his wife, Lucetta, faces down her fears and is willing to make the journey. His brother, Elisha, is more resistant but not enough to go off on his own. And so, Sam, Lucetta, their four children—almost-grown Little Charlie, Eve Mary, Ewan, and the youngest, Raymond—and Elisha pack up their possessions and head first for White’s Fort in Tennessee, a waypoint for anticipative settlers, where they plan to wait out the winter and meet up with Burl Rolens, Sam and Elisha’s uncle. Burl has the experience to guide them through the hazardous journey, but before they can rendezvous, Burl must endure his own arduous trek from Natchez, in the Mississippi Territory, an ordeal depicted in the narrative’s grisliest chapters. Sam, a man of few words but many thoughts, has no idea of the toll that the move will take. Over the course of this novel, Frye effectively paints his protagonist as a devoted husband and father, but he’s also shown to be stubbornly convinced that he must stick to his original plan: “There ain’t no freedom without you got land and money.” In addition, he’s effectively depicted as searching for something more spiritual. But although he’s the most fully drawn character in this novel, Sam still remains a bit of a cipher in the end. Frye offers a liberal sprinkling of crude language, graphically violent action scenes, and substantial detail regarding day-to-day activities, which brings the gritty past to life.

An engaging, sometimes-chilling, and often melancholy tale of the pioneer spirit.

Pub Date: May 15, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bathcat Press

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2020

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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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