Tantalizing but ultimately tepid.

A FATAL WALTZ

Port-swilling sleuth Lady Emily Ashton embroils herself in an international intrigue that might just start World War I two decades early.

In the third of Alexander’s series (A Poisoned Season, 2007, etc.), Lord Fortescue, a powerful advisor to Queen Victoria, invites Emily and friends to a hunting party at his country house, apparently for the sole purpose of insulting them all weekend. Too soon, a major source of suspense—wondering when Fortescue’s guests will storm out en masse—is dispelled by someone putting a bullet through the host’s head. Although Fortescue had dirt on nearly everyone in England, the most immediate suspect is his former political protégé, Robert Brandon, husband of Emily’s dear friend Ivy. Clapped in Newgate prison, Robert begs Emily to find the real killer. Fortescue had received death threats from Vienna, he reveals. Fortunately for Emily’s vast wardrobe, the Waltz season is in full lilt there, so it’s all aboard the Orient Express. Accompanying our redoubtable amateur detective are her childhood friend and would-be lover Jeremy, Duke of Bainbridge, and her French copine Cécile, herself a pal of Austria’s bereaved empress Sissi, who’s mourning her son’s death in a supposed suicide pact. Once in snowy Vienna, Emily befriends a struggling artist who leads her to Gustav Schröder, an anarchist who knows of Fortescue’s nefarious plot to lead England into war with Germany by fomenting a bombing during the Kaiser’s visit to Vienna. Emily’s betrothed Colin, often absent on clandestine spying missions, stops by occasionally to kiss her soulfully and commiserate about their delayed nuptials, postponed by Emily’s mother until Queen Victoria can fit them into her social calendar. Emily dodges Harrison, a sinister cohort of Fortescue’s who leaves bullets in her hotel room, purse, favorite cafe, etc., just to show he can. The convoluted plot verges on impenetrable, and rich, cosseted Emily remains a heroine whose mettle is in serious need of testing.

Tantalizing but ultimately tepid.

Pub Date: June 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-06-117422-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2008

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

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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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