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CATCH

A heartwarming and nuanced second-chance love story.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
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Longtime friends navigate the tricky waters of love in this contemporary romance.

Juliet “Jules” Branch Bartlett is a fiercely independent mother who works as a commercial fishing captain in her hometown of Bodega Bay, California, where she lives with her parents and 11-year-old daughter, Bella. Six years earlier, Jules left her philandering husband, Wayne Bartlett III, and returned to Bodega Bay to build a new life for herself and her child. She has the support of her parents, siblings, and longtime family friend Tyler Pace, a wealthy entrepreneur and the business partner of Jules’ brother, Drake. Tyler and his younger brother, Dylan, had a childhood marked by poverty, during which their mother abandoned them. Tyler maintains a residence in San Francisco but returned to Bodega Bay to care for his alcoholic father and help him recover from a devastating accident. Although Tyler’s in love with Jules, she keeps him at arm’s length, wary of getting involved with someone whom she sees as a smooth-talking charmer. But when they both attend the same wedding, it leads to a night of passion, and Jules and Tyler must decide if true love is worth the risk. Ewens presents a briskly paced romance with colorful, well-developed characters. It also expertly balances the lighthearted aspects of Jules’ and Tyler’s relationship with the serious issues they both face. Both are amiable people whose friendship is punctuated by witty and playful banter (“You’re never late,” Jules says to Tyler at one point. “Someone tied to the railroad tracks or trapped in a school bus?”), which allows Ewens to showcase her sharp prose, as when Jules hopes that Tyler will “say something obnoxious to distract her from the fact that he smelled particularly delicious today.” Their relationship unfolds gradually, giving the author plenty of space to explore the characters’ history from grade school to the present. Overall, the storytelling is dynamic and multilayered, including subplots involving Jules’ former husband, Wayne (whose wedding the main characters attend), and Tyler’s troubled dad, and Ewens handles it all with a high degree of sensitivity and empathy.

A heartwarming and nuanced second-chance love story.

Pub Date: June 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73232-165-6

Page Count: 332

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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THE RULE BOOK

Haphazard and undemanding.

A sports agent’s first official client is the man she dumped years ago in college.

After two years of hard work as an underling, Nora Mackenzie is finally being promoted to full-time sports agent. She’s worked hard, kept quiet, and allowed men in the office to call her Mac—a nickname she hates—all to show she’s a team player and “one of the guys.” Unfortunately, her boss instructs her to sign Derek Pender, a football player coming off an injury, who happens to be the man she heartlessly dumped in their senior year of college. Derek signs with her for revenge, seeing it as his opportunity to pay Nora back for callously breaking his heart eight years earlier. He insists she be at his beck and call: answering his emails, running his errands, cooking dinner for his dates. He also refuses to let her explain why she broke up with him without warning or explanation. Nora feels she has no choice but to acquiesce to Derek’s humiliating demands, since she’s worked too hard to let him ruin her dream job. She hopes he’ll thaw and they might become friends, but Derek’s bad behavior is designed to hide the fact that he’s still in love with her. Nora’s characterization is uneven, veering between anger at how she’s treated in the male-dominated field to immature bickering and bantering with Derek. Although Adams likely meant for Derek and Nora’s interactions to have an enemies-to-lovers vibe, the characters instead seem juvenile and stuck in the past. The novel is fueled by a string of tropes—second chance romance! married in Vegas! only one bed!—each randomly deployed to keep the book going despite thin characterization and wan plotting.

Haphazard and undemanding.

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9780593723678

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dell

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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BRIDE

Sink your teeth into this delightful paranormal romance with a modern twist.

A vampire and an Alpha werewolf enter into a marriage of convenience in order to ease tensions between their species.

As the only daughter of a prominent Vampyre councilman, Misery Lark has grown accustomed to playing the role that’s demanded of her—and now, her father is ordering her to be part of yet another truce agreement. In an effort to maintain goodwill between the Vampyres and their longtime nemeses the Weres, Misery must wed their Alpha, Lowe Moreland. But it turns out that Misery has her own motivations for agreeing to this political marriage, including finding answers about what happened to her best friend, who went missing after setting up a meeting in Were territory. Isolated from her kind and surrounded on all sides by the enemy after the wedding, Misery refuses to let herself forget about her real mission. It doesn’t matter that Lowe is one of the most confounding and intense people she’s ever met, or that the connection building between them doesn’t feel like one born entirely of convenience. There’s also the possibility that Lowe may already have a Were mate of his own, but in spite of their biological differences, they may turn out to be the missing piece in each other’s lives. While this is Hazelwood’s first paranormal romance, and the book does lean on some hallmark tropes of the genre, the contemporary setting lends itself to the author’s trademark humor and makes the political plot more easily digestible. Misery and Lowe’s slow-burn romance is appealing enough that readers will readily devour every moment between them and hunger to return to them whenever the story diverts from their scenes together.

Sink your teeth into this delightful paranormal romance with a modern twist.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9780593550403

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023

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