A paranormal fit for Regency readers, and a Regency fit for paranormal readers.

A MOST UNUSUAL DUKE

From the Shapeshifters of the Beau Monde series , Vol. 2

When the prince regent tells a widow to marry a bear shifter, how can she refuse?

Beatrice, dowager Marchioness of Castleton, never wants to marry again. She was forced into her first marriage and then discovered her cruel husband was a versipellis, or shape-shifter, revealing to her an entire paranormal wing of the beau monde—including the prince regent. Arthur, Duke of Osborn, another versipellis and cousin to the prince, also doesn’t want to marry, as it would betray his childhood vow to never step into his role as an Alpha. But Prince George has other plans for the two of them, and those plans require a quick and quiet wedding in the back of a chapel. After the ceremony, Beatrice and Arthur quickly agree that theirs will be a "white marriage," meaning it won't be consummated, and she gets to work meeting his staff and repairing his estate, still in shambles, destroyed by the man who killed his father when he was a child. They settle into their unexpected new lives, separate though in the same house, but when his sister and her family come to visit, Beatrice discovers that the versipellian world is far more diverse and kind than she experienced in her first marriage. Having guests also brings the newlyweds closer, and as proximity begins to build a powerful attraction between them, they shift from a white marriage to a more passionate “cordial affiliation.” But the marriage can’t truly be consummated until Arthur is finally willing to overcome his childhood trauma and face down his enemies—which may be too much to ask. The second book in Allen’s Regency shape-shifter series is, like the first, A Wolf in Duke's Clothing (2021), an enjoyable combination of subgenres, fully devoted to the tropes of both. The book moves effortlessly between paranormal lingo and Regency touches, and though the plot is fairly basic, the dialogue is clever and funny. Readers equally interested in Prince George's historic fashion sense and shape-shifter pack dynamics will be thrilled.

A paranormal fit for Regency readers, and a Regency fit for paranormal readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72823-039-9

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 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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Fresh and upbeat, though not without flaws.

THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS

An earnest grad student and a faculty member with a bit of a jerkish reputation concoct a fake dating scheme in this nerdy, STEM-filled contemporary romance.

Olive Smith and professor Adam Carlsen first met in the bathroom of Adam's lab. Olive wore expired contact lenses, reducing her eyes to temporary tears, while Adam just needed to dispose of a solution. It's a memory that only one of them has held onto. Now, nearly three years later, Olive is fully committed to her research in pancreatic cancer at Stanford University's biology department. As a faculty member, Adam's reputation precedes him, since he's made many students cry or drop their programs entirely with his bluntness. When Olive needs her best friend, Anh, to think she's dating someone so Anh will feel more comfortable getting involved with Olive's barely-an-ex, Jeremy, she impulsively kisses Adam, who happens to be standing there when Anh walks by. But rumors start to spread, and the one-time kiss morphs into a fake relationship, especially as Adam sees there's a benefit for him. The university is withholding funds for Adam's research out of fear that he'll leave for a better position elsewhere. If he puts down more roots by getting involved with someone, his research funds could be released at the next budgeting meeting in about a month's time. After setting a few ground rules, Adam and Olive agree that come the end of September, they'll part ways, having gotten what they need from their arrangement. Hazelwood has a keen understanding of romance tropes and puts them to good use—in addition to fake dating, Olive and Adam are an opposites-attract pairing with their sunny and grumpy personalities—but there are a couple of weaknesses in this debut novel. Hazelwood manages to sidestep a lot of the complicated power dynamics of a student-faculty romance by putting Olive and Adam in different departments, but the impetus for their fake relationship has much higher stakes for Adam. Olive does reap the benefits of dating a faculty member, but in the end, she's still the one seemingly punished or taunted by her colleagues; readers may have been hoping for a more subversive twist. For a first novel, there's plenty of shine here, with clear signs that Hazelwood feels completely comfortable with happily-ever-afters.

Fresh and upbeat, though not without flaws.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-33682-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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