This tale skillfully shows the complexities and bloodshed of three famous days in American history.

WITHOUT WARNING

THE SAGA OF GETTYSBURG, A RELUCTANT UNION HERO, AND THE MEN HE INSPIRED

A historical novel focuses on the Battle of Gettysburg from the perspective of the North.

Pierce begins this detailed work on June 27, 1863. It is the middle of the Civil War, and President Abraham Lincoln and his team in the White House want a change. The Rebels have invaded Pennsylvania. A wrong decision could very well lead to an attack on the nation’s capital. A messenger is dispatched to the front lines to tell Gen. George Meade that he is the new head of the Army of the Potomac. Meade is a West Point graduate and career soldier, though he has some doubts that he is the right one to command so many men. He lacks the charisma of more well-liked generals and is known for his hot temper. But orders are orders. Meade is soon at the helm of what will be remembered as the bloodiest engagement of the Civil War. The narrative follows Meade and a few other characters on the Union side as they fight the enemy, the oppressive summer heat, and problems in their own ranks. Perhaps the biggest thorn in Meade’s side is Maj. Gen. Daniel Sickles. Although Sickles thinks quite highly of himself, Meade has quite the opposite opinion. Sickles, who has political connections and was once acquitted of killing his wife’s lover, presents a major problem on the battlefield when he decides to place his troops in a foolhardy position. Yet even when Sickles must exit the battle with a wounded leg, there are still lots of pounding artillery, infantry charges, and Rebel yells to fill the once-tranquil Pennsylvania landscape.

The book deftly outlines the enormous task that lay before Meade. From the difficulties of simply communicating to his troops to men like Sickles who might decide to do what they wanted regardless of orders, leading the Union forces in a major engagement is certainly no cakewalk. Not to mention that Meade takes command mere days before the epic battle. And those are just the logistical problems. The tale effectively depicts how even a general like Meade has plenty to fear from enemy fire, as when a shell bursts near a group of officers, “raining down steel fragments.” But not all of the details are quite as informative. Meade and others, as one could imagine, have a penchant for coffee. Yet readers need not care how a private “poured a steaming cup” and how “Meade’s cook walked onto the porch and handed Meade a cup of coffee.” Such moments lengthen an already sprawling novel without supplying much substance. Meanwhile, opportunities for providing more depth are missed. For example, much is made of the many participants in the war who are West Point graduates. But what might West Point have been like in the 1800s? Why do some leave the school with a sense of duty while others see fit to break their “solemn oath to protect and honor the Republic”? Nevertheless, the novel delivers an astute angle from which to consider the crucial events of those deadly days in July. In the end, Meade, a figure often overshadowed by other heroes, has a lot to tell readers.

This tale skillfully shows the complexities and bloodshed of three famous days in American history.

Pub Date: June 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63107-027-3

Page Count: 788

Publisher: Heart Ally Books

Review Posted Online: July 7, 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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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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