A richly textured, absorbing war tale that works equally well as a touching love story.

MORAL FIBRE

A novel focuses on a British bomber pilot in the waning years of World War II.

This latest book from Schrader, the author of many historical novels (including 2014’s Knight of Jerusalem), centers on Christopher “Kit” Moran, a pilot and officer in the Royal Air Force Bomber Command. As the author explains in a foreword, Kit appeared in her novella Lack of Moral Fibre (2021), in which he was sent to a psychiatric center after he refused to fly a bombing raid on Berlin. As this novel opens, the action finds Kit being offered a second chance to return to the flying crew, first taking a break to visit Georgina Reddings, the former fiancee of his dead flight leader, in the Yorkshire countryside. During their time at the home of Georgina’s vicar father, the two young people almost involuntarily become closer to each other. “It was ridiculous to pretend he was like a brother to her,” Georgina muses. “She could sense that if she saw more of him, she would lose her heart to him.” Matters between them are unresolved when Georgina goes back to the teaching field and Kit returns to the RAF for retraining and reassignment. The narrative follows both characters as they deal with the world of England in the final years of the war, not just professionally, but personally. Georgina and Kit cope with all manner of people and challenges, from the tedium of bureaucracy to the realities of wartime shortages and how to overcome them. Schrader helpfully adds an index of ranks and definitions for readers unfamiliar with the terminology of the period to aid in the immersive experience of the novel.

The author does a smoothly confident job shifting the action of her story from the very separate war experiences of her two main characters, which include Kit attending the “finishing school” for training on gun flights and Georgina teaching children in the village. The thread binding these two halves of the narrative is the growing relationship between Kit and Georgina, which is overshadowed by their separate loyalties to her former love. Is she embracing Kit as a kind of emotional extension of her relationship with her fiance? And is Kit rejoining the RAF out of some sense of guilt that his leader died instead of him? Schrader does such a great job creating the vibrant, involving scenes these characters share that readers will look forward to them despite the dramatics of the separate plotlines. The sense of the young lovers’ mounting awareness of their feelings for each other is executed with considerable skill. “If he had once felt he ought to die,” Kit realizes at one point in this moving story, “Georgina had cured him of that madness.” Likewise, Kit’s experiences in the RAF are vividly portrayed: He “felt an unexpected thrill to be flying over England again. Roads, streams, woods and hedges broke the green and hilly Gloucestershire countryside into mosaic pieces.” The two narrative strands beautifully balance each other up to the book’s climax.

A richly textured, absorbing war tale that works equally well as a touching love story.

Pub Date: May 16, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-73531-392-4

Page Count: 436

Publisher: Cross Seas Press

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2022

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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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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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