An unevenly written but often entertaining romantic story.

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Never Before

From the The Jagged Edge Series series , Vol. 1

A young woman must open up and face her past when she meets the man of her dreams in this melodramatic debut romance.

Twenty-two-year-old Lily Stone lives with her best friend in a smashing Toronto apartment and gets a job with the very best hipster magazine. Diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder, she often berates herself about her looks and has far more sex in her fantasies than in her bedroom. But when she meets the magazine’s handsome owner, Ryder Bishop, he falls head over heels for her. After he learns her name, he realizes that he knows her family from a past tragedy. Their elegant first date leads to deep kissing, but nothing more physical, and flashbacks reveal that Lily has a history of sexual abuse. However, a second date in Ryder’s decadent penthouse leads to pages upon pages of adverb-laden sex scenes. Lily feels safe enough to enjoy Ryder, but still dashes off in the morning for her therapy appointment. As the couple falls deeper in love, Lily opens up about her body and her past to both Ryder and her best friend, and both respond with compassion. But Ryder has yet to tell Lily his secret, which threatens to be exposed when Ryder’s estranged father is released from prison. Lily finally overhears the secret at a party, and the two lovebirds must weather to storm that follows. This story is a fun jaunt through the city’s classiest neighborhoods, with enough glitz and decadence to entertain. The melodrama that begins the novel (“Ryder gasped, clamouring for breath as if all the oxygen in his lungs had suddenly been removed”) eventually calms into a more compelling story. However, the book describes Lily’s body dysmorphia not so much by her experiences, but by clunkily repeating the disorder by name, along with long paragraphs of description. The story is more about Ryder than it is about Lily’s personal journey; she doesn’t learn to love herself so much as she’s relieved that someone so wonderful could love her. Overwritten descriptions threaten to capsize every sex scene (at one point, Ryder places Lily on his “sumptuous heathered graphite duvet”). However, the number of sex scenes is generous and, in the end, they don’t encumber the plot.

An unevenly written but often entertaining romantic story.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-51-707698-6

Page Count: 306

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

A WEEK AT THE SHORE

A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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