A sweet reminder of the connections between love and magic.

AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER

A romance novelist stumbles on the man of her dreams, but she must reckon with reality before finding her own happy ending.

After spending a childhood in foster homes, Gaia Anders is overdue for a miracle. So, just as she enters adulthood, Gaia develops an extremely unusual ability: When she writes romantic stories during the day, she lives them that night in her dreams: "Every word, every detail came to life whenever she fell asleep." Not only that, but any tweaks she makes in her dreams automatically write themselves into her stories. Gaia uses her magical gifts to write authentic and heartwarming romance novels that wind up on bestseller lists. It works like a charm for more than a decade—until she bumps into her best friend Seth’s brother, the perennially busy Jacob Scott. They share a kiss and part ways, but their encounter is far from over: Jacob begins to share Gaia’s dreams. While they titillate and excite each other in intense dreams, their actual conversations force them to face several truths. Gaia is struggling with a deep-seated fear of abandonment, and Jacob has been miserably unhappy since taking over the reins of his father’s business. Jacob and Gaia must learn what it means to fight for their individual dreams if they are to have a real future together. The paranormal element in this love story is mostly fun and sometimes muddling, but Beharrie weaves her best magic when she unpacks the ways the protagonists’ minds and hearts work. Jacob and Gaia’s interactions are consistently compelling, and their internal struggles evoke empathy. But Seth’s sharp disapproval of Gaia’s closeness with Jacob, which throws a wrench into several relationships, is inadequately explained, the reasons for his outburst deeply unconvincing. Gaia’s relationship with romance novels allows Beharrie to tug at the threads of the genre’s long journey through changing times and doff her hat to its many charms.

A sweet reminder of the connections between love and magic.

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4201-5338-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Zebra/Kensington

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 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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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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