Stale, unexamined stereotypes coupled with lack of character growth make for a disappointing romance.

THE TROUBLE WITH HATING YOU

A biochemical engineer ends up working with the man her parents would like her to marry.

Liya Thakkar is happy both professionally and personally. She has a tight-knit group of friends and just accepted a big promotion at work. Unfortunately, her conservative father is still trying to arrange her perfect match—a good Hindu man from a respectable family—even though she never plans to get married. One night, Liya goes to her parents’ home for a quiet family dinner and is surprised to find her father has invited a surprise blind date, Jay Shah. Infuriated at her father’s meddling, Liya refuses to even meet Jay and sneaks out the back door. But running away from Jay is harder than it looks, as he’s been hired to bail her firm out of a daunting legal mess. As they work together to save the company, Liya discovers that the prickly, confrontational demeanor she uses as a shield doesn’t work with Jay. Meanwhile, Jay is surprised to find himself impressed with Liya's dedication and hard work. Liya is slow to trust Jay, but their professional relationship slowly evolves to friendship and then to romance. As a teenager, Liya was a victim of sexual assault at the hands of an older, respected member of the community. It makes her fight-or-flight survival strategy easier to understand, but she never moves past these simple coping mechanisms. The book fails to portray a modern world of dating. Early on, a white man expects her “to give it up” after an expensive dinner date, and she is openly shunned by her community for being a sexually active woman in her 20s. There is little nuance in Patel’s exploration of gender and dating, which fuels rather than interrogates stereotypes of South Asian culture.

Stale, unexamined stereotypes coupled with lack of character growth make for a disappointing romance.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-3333-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Forever

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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A warm and winning "When Harry Met Sally…" update that hits all the perfect notes.

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PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION

A travel writer has one last shot at reconnecting with the best friend she just might be in love with.

Poppy and Alex couldn't be more different. She loves wearing bright colors while he prefers khakis and a T-shirt. She likes just about everything while he’s a bit more discerning. And yet, their opposites-attract friendship works because they love each other…in a totally platonic way. Probably. Even though they have their own separate lives (Poppy lives in New York City and is a travel writer with a popular Instagram account; Alex is a high school teacher in their tiny Ohio hometown), they still manage to get together each summer for one fabulous vacation. They grow closer every year, but Poppy doesn’t let herself linger on her feelings for Alex—she doesn’t want to ruin their friendship or the way she can be fully herself with him. They continue to date other people, even bringing their serious partners on their summer vacations…but then, after a falling-out, they stop speaking. When Poppy finds herself facing a serious bout of ennui, unhappy with her glamorous job and the life she’s been dreaming of forever, she thinks back to the last time she was truly happy: her last vacation with Alex. And so, though they haven’t spoken in two years, she asks him to take another vacation with her. She’s determined to bridge the gap that’s formed between them and become best friends again, but to do that, she’ll have to be honest with Alex—and herself—about her true feelings. In chapters that jump around in time, Henry shows readers the progression (and dissolution) of Poppy and Alex’s friendship. Their slow-burn love story hits on beloved romance tropes (such as there unexpectedly being only one bed on the reconciliation trip Poppy plans) while still feeling entirely fresh. Henry’s biggest strength is in the sparkling, often laugh-out-loud-funny dialogue, particularly the banter-filled conversations between Poppy and Alex. But there’s depth to the story, too—Poppy’s feeling of dissatisfaction with a life that should be making her happy as well as her unresolved feelings toward the difficult parts of her childhood make her a sympathetic and relatable character. The end result is a story that pays homage to classic romantic comedies while having a point of view all its own.

A warm and winning "When Harry Met Sally…" update that hits all the perfect notes.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0675-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A heartfelt look at taking second chances, in life and in love.

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BEACH READ

Two struggling authors spend the summer writing and falling in love in a quaint beach town.

January Andrews has just arrived in the small town of North Bear Shores with some serious baggage. Her father has been dead for a year, but she still hasn’t come to terms with what she found out at his funeral—he had been cheating on her mother for years. January plans to spend the summer cleaning out and selling the house her father and “That Woman” lived in together. But she’s also a down-on-her-luck author facing writer’s block, and she no longer believes in the happily-ever-after she’s made the benchmark of her work. Her steadily dwindling bank account, though, is a daily reminder that she must sell her next book, and fast. Serendipitously, she discovers that her new next-door neighbor is Augustus Everett, the darling of the literary fiction set and her former college rival/crush. Gus also happens to be struggling with his next book (and some serious trauma that unfolds throughout the novel). Though the two get off to a rocky start, they soon make a bet: Gus will try to write a romance novel, and January will attempt “bleak literary fiction.” They spend the summer teaching each other the art of their own genres—January takes Gus on a romantic outing to the local carnival; Gus takes January to the burned-down remains of a former cult—and they both process their own grief, loss, and trauma through this experiment. There are more than enough steamy scenes to sustain the slow-burn romance, and smart commentary on the placement and purpose of “women’s fiction” joins with crucial conversations about mental health to add multiple intriguing layers to the plot.

A heartfelt look at taking second chances, in life and in love.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0673-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Jove/Penguin

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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