A moving and life-affirming portrait of grief that’s sure to bring the tears.

PACK UP THE MOON

A young widower begrudgingly attempts to move on when he receives assignments from his beloved late wife.

Joshua Park has never had an easy time getting close to people. He’s brilliant, with a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and a job as a medical device engineer, but as someone on the autism spectrum, he often doesn’t pick up on social cues. But none of that is an issue with his wife, Lauren, a public space designer. The two of them are madly in love with one another—and then Lauren is diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a disease in which fibers grow in her lungs and make breathing difficult (and, eventually, impossible). Her terminal diagnosis means that their marriage will be briefer than they ever imagined…but, unbeknownst to Josh, Lauren has a plan to take care of him when she’s gone. After Lauren’s death, Josh doesn’t know how he’ll get through the day, let alone the rest of his life. But then the first letter comes. Before her death, Lauren wrote him a letter for each month of his first year without her, each one containing a task that will help him keep going. They start out relatively easy (going to the grocery store) but gradually require him to open himself up more. Lauren’s instructions initially annoy Josh, but eventually he begins to connect with new people—and the people who were already there for him. Higgins deftly navigates a premise that could’ve been sappy and instead turns it into something poignant, realistic, and occasionally even funny. Josh and Lauren never seem like caricatures of a grieving widower or a selfless, angelic dead wife. Instead, they are fully rounded characters with flaws and eccentricities. The story alternates between Josh’s present-day attempts to live his new life and Lauren’s point of view in the past, making her feel like a real person instead of just a saintly presence. The amount of detail around Lauren’s disease is both impressive and heartbreaking to read. The characters surrounding Josh and Lauren are all complex and quirky, and seeing Josh accept love from the people in his life, both from new friends and old family members, is just as sob-inducing as reading about how he loses Lauren.

A moving and life-affirming portrait of grief that’s sure to bring the tears.

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-451-48948-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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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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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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