The Great Believers By Rebecca Makkai

Set in the Chicago of the mid-80s and Paris at the time of the 2015 terrorist attacks, Makkai’s deeply affecting novel uses the AIDS epidemic and a mother’s search for her estranged daughter to explore the effects of senseless loss and our efforts to overcome it. Her portrait of a group of friends, most of them gay men, conveys the terrors and tragedies of the epidemic’s early years and follows its repercussions over decades. Empathetic without being sentimental, her novel amply earned its place among the contenders for the Booker Prize and the National Book Award.

Asymmetry By Lisa Halliday

In “Asymmetry,” two seemingly unrelated sections are connected by a shocking coda. The first, “Folly,” is the story of a love affair. It narrates the relationship between Alice, a book editor and aspiring writer in her mid-20s, and Ezra Blazer, a brilliant, geriatric novelist who is partly modeled on Philip Roth. The second section — “Madness” — belongs to Amar Jaafari, an Iraqi-American economist who is being detained at Heathrow. Halliday’s prose is clean and lean, almost reportorial in the style of W.G. Sebald. This is a first novel that reads like the work of an author who has published many books over many years, and it manages to be, all at once, a transgressive roman à clef, a novel of ideas and a politically engaged work of metafiction.

The One You Fight For by Roni Loren

New York Times bestselling author Roni Loren returns to her emotional series about the survivors of a school shooting with The One You Fight For. This third installment might just be Loren’s most heart-wrenching romance yet—it will undoubtedly bring you to tears.

Psychology professor Taryn Landry is still haunted by her sister’s death during a horrifying mass murder at Long Acre High School’s prom night. Motivated by her grief, Taryn devotes her career and research to the prevention of gun violence, determined to make sure no one else has to lose their little sister like she did. Wracked with guilt over her sister’s death and the way it destroyed their family, Taryn becomes consumed with trying to establish preventive measures to combat future shootings. But a chance encounter at an open mic night leads to an unexpected and complicated romance.

Shaw Miller is desperately trying to rebuild his life after establishing a new identity. His brother was one of the perpetrators of the Long Acre massacre, and the fallout from his actions destroyed Shaw’s Olympic dreams, his family and nearly himself. Treated as a villain in the media after the incident, Shaw struggled daily, but nearly fifteen years later, he hopes he can finally have a normal life—until he meets Taryn.

Neither Taryn nor Shaw immediately realize how the two of them are connected, and that sense of dread hangs over their initial romance, making The One You Fight For an addicting and tense read. When will they find out about their pasts? How will they handle it? By the time they connect the dots, it’s too late. Though Taryn and Shaw acknowledge their chemistry, they’re soon faced with bigger issues of forgiveness and whether their families can accept a relationship so fraught with emotional baggage.

It’s truly a feat to address the issue of gun violence with the delicacy, care and realism of Loren’s series, which somehow gets better with every new release. Loren does an outstanding job crafting romances that balance love, grief and a whole slew of other messy, complicated emotions. Tissues are a must for this book. At times, The One You Fight For can be painful, but the beauty of romance is that there will always be a happy ending, and its one that Taryn and Shaw definitely deserve. Two people whose lives have been consumed by loneliness and forever marked by tragedy learn to open themselves up to love, instead of continuing to punish themselves. It’s a beautiful sentiment and is couched in a romance that is seriously worth the read. Full of complex relationships and friendships forged through trauma, this is an unforgettable addition to an equally unforgettable series.

The One You Fight For jacket

The One You Fight For

By Roni Loren

Sourcebooks Casablanca 
$7.99 
ISBN 9781492651468 
Published 01/01/2019

Romance / Contemporary Romance

Evidence of Desire by Lexi Blake

Because I’m a firm believer of an endless supply of second chances, I’m a sucker for a story about redemption. So Lexi Blake’s Evidence of Desire was exactly what I wanted in a romance.

Isla Shayne is the personal lawyer for NFL living legend, Trey Adams, who suffers from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (or CTE) and is accused of murdering his wife. Blake treats this very real issue with great respect, and instead of handling it with kid gloves, delves right into the realities of dealing with such a debilitating disease and its unpredictable nature.

Knowing she’s in over her head given the criminal charges leveled against her client, Isla calls in defense attorney David Cormack. As a former football player and Harvard-educated attorney, he’s the perfect person to defend Trey, but it also puts the specter of his own potential for developing CTE front and center in his mind. It wreaks havoc on David’s psyche and his ability to trust his rapidly growing feelings for Isla. If not for her bravery in opening her heart to David, they might never experience more from each other than a sexy one-night stand.

Both Isla and David are compelling, complex characters. Both have experienced the highs and lows of football—David as a player, and Isla as the former fiancé of a player who died from leukemia. But whereas David drags his feet at the thought of involving someone he loves into a life that could turn out like Trey Adams’, Isla faces her feelings with a hard-won knowledge that you have to live—and love—for today.

Evidence of Desire is a finely tuned blend of sexy romance and dramatic suspense, with a deep lineup of captivating characters. Blake sets an exciting pace that twists and turns, and surprises the reader with an unexpected reveal late in the game. You’ll need to budget your time with this book, because it is un-put-down-able.

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