A beautifully told rom-com that’s full of laughs, heart, and scorching sexual tension.

THE SINGLES TABLE

A fun-loving lawyer promises to play matchmaker for a surly (but smoking-hot) businessman.

It’s wedding season, and Zara Patel is getting used to her seat at the singles table. Although her aunties are always trying to set her up with eligible bachelors, she’d rather focus on her own successful matchmaking efforts. Helping other people find their happily-ever-afters is a lot easier than attempting a relationship herself, especially since Zara thinks she’s “too much” for most men. Fellow singles table resident Jay Dayal, an Air Force veteran and current security company owner, immediately knows that Zara isn’t the woman for him (not that he’s even looking for a woman). She’s loud, impulsive, and so klutzy she often ends up in the ER. However, neither of them can deny the sparks that fly between them when they meet during a bachelor/bachelorette party paintball game and Zara shoots him in the butt. When Jay’s mother begs him to find a partner, Zara agrees to use her matchmaking skills to set him up with someone if he promises to use his business to help her struggling law firm find clients. As they spend more time together, though, their chemistry becomes impossible to ignore, and their deal turns into a no-strings-attached relationship. But between Zara’s reluctance to fall in love and Jay’s inability to open up, things are more complicated than they expected. Can they let their walls down and see that the perfect match might be right in front of them? Desai creates a romantic comedy that has both genuine laugh-out-loud moments (usually because of Zara’s antics) and quieter, more emotional scenes (including Jay’s struggle to tell Zara about his combat-related PTSD and Zara’s deep wounds from her parents’ acrimonious divorce).  Zara and Jay both feel like real people with believable flaws, and their relationship plays out in a way that feels earned, with plenty of steamy moments along the journey.

A beautifully told rom-com that’s full of laughs, heart, and scorching sexual tension.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-10060-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Berkley

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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