Lawrence blends romance, action, and beautiful scenery into an alluring concoction.

GUARDIAN OF PARADISE

A fiendish merchant-ship captain is more invested in taking precious material from a South Pacific island than trading with locals in Lawrence’s debut adventure novel.

In the late 19th century, an Australian merchant navy ship lands at the island of Alofa. Islander Kira Wall is wary because previous traders who’d visited were greedy men who carelessly trampled through fields of plants and fruits. She doesn’t trust Capt. Coleman in the slightest. He seems too eager to offer bountiful goods, as if he were trying to distract the natives. Sure enough, Coleman is secretly scouring Alofa for diamonds that a pirate said he’d discovered on the island. The normally standoffish Kira struggles with her newfound affection for the handsome Dr. Trevor Marshall, the ship’s civilian physician and botanist, and they both look for a way to avoid a conflict between the crew and islanders. Meanwhile, Coleman tries to force Kira into revealing the diamonds’ location by kidnapping her best friend. Despite the tropical-paradise setting, this romance doesn’t dawdle. Instead, it follows two people falling in love while immersed in suspenseful scenes and the occasional action sequence. Kira is a laudable but bewildering protagonist. Her distrust of outsiders, for example, is odd, as she herself is the daughter of missionaries who came to Alofa. But she more than holds her own, boasting a thorough knowledge of the island’s interior and proving a formidable adversary in scuffles with men. Lawrence conveys the developing relationship between Kira and Trevor primarily via sex scenes, but the duo still has emotional resonance. As a villain, the captain is a worthy opponent (he even uses dynamite) with an ever present arrogance, while the few loyal crew members who stand by him are really just extensions of his corruption. The final act, in which Coleman targets Kira’s loved ones and inevitably faces off against her, could be trimmed, but it maintains momentum and delivers a satisfying finale.

Lawrence blends romance, action, and beautiful scenery into an alluring concoction.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1500602970

Page Count: 386

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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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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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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