A modern fairy tale that moves apace but is burdened by uneven writing and characters who continually do things that seem...

THE MISTER

A feckless Englishman who’s just inherited wealth and a title finds purpose when he falls for his enigmatic cleaning lady, an Albanian refugee with a vast well of secrets.

Maxim Trevelyan has just lost his beloved older brother, Kit, and inherited his title as Earl of Trevethick. He also discovers his old house cleaner has left and been replaced by Alessia, a beautiful young woman from Albania who has little beyond the clothes on her back yet plays the piano like a superstar. She’s reticent and modest and came to England to escape the brutal man her father wanted her to marry only to fall into the hands of sex traffickers. She’s managed to find a job and shelter with her mother’s friend, but when she’s threatened, it’s clear that Max has suddenly developed a heightened sense of protectiveness. He’s falling in love with her. How could he not? She’s beautiful, talented, and courageous, having survived these horrors. But when one evil man after another tracks her down, Max will use every property and penny at his disposal, even go to the ends of the Earth—or at least across Europe—to save her. James offers her first book outside the staggeringly successful Fifty Shades of Grey (2012) world, and the story can be compelling, in a "Cinderella" meets Perils of Pauline kind of way. We root for Alessia to be saved by the rich, handsome Max, who suddenly cares about all the things he’s intentionally ignored his whole life, yet we also ask ourselves why a woman who escaped sex traffickers at a gas station can’t be smarter when she’s hiding from them in a mansion or when she’s being dragged back to her hometown by the man she fled from in the first place. It’s also worth noting in light of James' earlier books that while sex is an important theme—mainly Alessia’s sexual awakening and the threat of sexual violence—there's only the slightest hint of BDSM, when Max hooks up with a one-night stand early in the book, which highlights Alessia’s innocence.

A modern fairy tale that moves apace but is burdened by uneven writing and characters who continually do things that seem out of character.

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984898-32-6

Page Count: 498

Publisher: Vintage

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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