An enemies-to-lovers romance that deserves to be savored.

AFTER DARK WITH THE DUKE

From the Palace of Rogues series , Vol. 4

Desire and disdain collide as an opera singer who's been publicly shamed clashes with a priggish, aristocratic military hero.

Soprano Mariana Wylde seeks refuge at the London docklands boardinghouse known as the Palace of Rogues after a duel between a former lover and a current fan makes her a tabloid scandal. To her dismay, Gen. James Duncan Blackmore, the Duke of Valkirk—who's lodging there temporarily while writing his memoirs—takes an immediate dislike to her for her perceived debauchery. Initial skirmishes between the two culminate in a mean-spirited action on his part, precipitating an apology and a period of forced proximity between them. While the duke, who speaks Italian, gives private lessons to the soprano, who only sings it, they begin to slowly share their fears and traumas, and the two bruised souls drop their bellicose facades and begin a secret affair. Despite their electric attraction, however, her disrepute presents an insurmountable barrier to a legitimate relationship in his eyes, yoked as he is to his own reputation as a moralist. Long specializes in crafting tension between people whose sexual and intellectual compatibility are at odds with their place in social hierarchies and prescribed gender roles. But even as British society seems unlikely to accept this union, the plucky proprietresses of the Palace of Rogues and the other charming lodgers there model alternatives to a conventional life. It's up to the duke to overcome his black-and-white perspective as he comes to see how sexist stereotypes demonize nonconforming women while excusing men. If the novel’s agenda is obvious—questioning the patriarchal hypocrisy that condemns women after taking away their choices—the execution is subtle and moving. Scenes where the protagonists’ spoken words compete with their body language mirror the strain between socially dictated mores and individual desire. The only sour note is the hero’s background, which falls into a long romance tradition of British imperialists—one that needs to be retired, or at least interrogated.

An enemies-to-lovers romance that deserves to be savored.

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-304509-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

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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