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THE HAPPY EVER AFTER PLAYLIST

A perfect blend of smart, heart-wrenching, and fun.

Two years after the tragic death of her fiance, an artist begins to heal thanks to a rock star and his dog.

Sloan Monroe is on her way to the grave of her late fiance, who was killed by a drunk driver, when she nearly hits a dog who dashed into the road. When she stops to check on him, he jumps into her car through the sunroof, and when she doesn't hear from his owner after calling the number on his collar, she decides to keep him. Jason Larsen, the dog's owner, is backpacking off the grid in Australia, and when he finally gets Sloan's voicemails nearly two weeks later, he calls her and is astonished to discover that she's had Tucker, his dog, for so long; his quasi-girlfriend was supposed to be watching Tucker but it turns out she had basically abandoned him. Since he’s still in Australia for a few weeks, Jason arranges for Sloan to keep Tucker, and through it all they text and talk and plant the seeds for a friendship, if not more. Sloan is slow and wary, even before she discovers that Jason is a musician on the cusp of star status. Still, she’s charmed by his patience and talent, and when he returns to LA, she quickly falls in love with him, his dog, and his family. Just as they’re admitting to deep feelings, he’s embarking on a long musical tour and wants her with him. It’s a grind, which she isn’t expecting, and the relationship is at odds with his label’s publicity plans, which are complicated. Plus, it keeps Sloan from pursuing her art, which she wants to explore again. Following her exceptional debut (The Friend Zone, 2019), author Jimenez has written Sloan’s story with elegant, compassionate success, showcasing a romance that navigates deep grief and healing while exploring the unexpected stressors placed on a celebrity relationship. Fans of The Friend Zone will be happy to see Kristen and Josh as Sloan’s main support system and will be touched by Jimenez’s note in the acknowledgements about her inspiration for the book.

A perfect blend of smart, heart-wrenching, and fun.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-1564-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Forever

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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SEEING RED

As the plot grows more complicated, it also sheds believability, leaving sex and witty banter to carry the day.

Brown (Mean Streak, 2014, etc.) ticks off the boxes that elevate her books to the bestseller lists in this sexy romantic thriller set in Texas.

Rock-jawed hero with a dark past: check. Strong-willed, beautiful woman who resists his charms: check. A Whitman’s Sampler of bad guys: check. And finally, a convoluted and not always plausible plot: check. In this latest outing, readers meet TV journalist Kerra Bailey, whose family was torn apart years ago by a hotel bombing that killed 197 people in Dallas. Just in time for the 25th anniversary, Kerra scores an interview with the notoriously private Maj. Trapper, who saved her life, among others, when he emerged from the blast to lead the survivors out of danger. There's an iconic, prizewinning photo of the major carrying a little girl from the wreckage, but the child has never been identified—until now, when Kerra goes public with the information that it was her. Just after they finish filming the interview in his home, the major is shot, and an injured Kerra escapes in the confusion. The major’s son, disgraced Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent John Trapper—a name M*A*S*H fans will appreciate—steps in, igniting a chain of events that leads to murder, intrigue, betrayal, and a series of dark revelations. As with most of Brown’s heroes and heroines, there’s palpable sexual tension between Trapper, whose taut rear occupies ample literary real estate, and Kerra, who when dealing with Trapper feels “like he’d lightly scratched her just below her bellybutton” when he’s not making her “pleasure points throb.” The complex plot plays out in a round of reveals that don’t always make a lot of sense, but that’s not why Brown’s fans read her books. They check in for the witty, pitch-perfect dialogue and fluid writing. A master of her genre, Brown knows how to please her most ardent readers but relies too often on the same basic formula from novel to novel.

As the plot grows more complicated, it also sheds believability, leaving sex and witty banter to carry the day.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7210-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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ON MYSTIC LAKE

Hannah, after eight paperbacks, abandons her successful time-travelers for a hardcover life of kitchen-sink romance. Everyone must have got the Olympic Peninsula memo for this spring because, as of this reading, authors Hannah, Nora Roberts, and JoAnn Ross have all placed their newest romances in or near the Quinault rain forest. Here, 40ish Annie Colwater, returns to Washington State after her husband, high-powered Los Angeles lawyer Blake, tells her he’s found another (younger) woman and wants a divorce. Although a Stanford graduate, Annie has known only a life of perfect wifedom: matching Blake’s ties to his suits and cooking meals from Gourmet magazine. What is she to do with her shattered life? Well, she returns to dad’s house in the small town of Mystic, cuts off all her hair (for a different look), and goes to work as a nanny for lawman Nick Delacroix, whose wife has committed suicide, whose young daughter Izzy refuses to speak, and who himself has descended into despair and alcoholism. Annie spruces up Nick’s home on Mystic Lake and sends “Izzy-bear” back into speech mode. And, after Nick begins attending AA meetings, she and he become lovers. Still, when Annie learns that she’s pregnant not with Nick’s but with Blake’s child, she heads back to her empty life in the Malibu Colony. The baby arrives prematurely, and mean-spirited Blake doesn’t even stick around to support his wife. At this point, it’s perfectly clear to Annie—and the reader—that she’s justified in taking her newborn daughter and driving back north. Hannah’s characters indulge in so many stages of the weeps, from glassy eyes to flat-out sobs, that tear ducts are almost bound to stay dry. (First printing of 100,000; first serial to Good Housekeeping; Literary Guild/Doubleday book club selections)

Pub Date: March 31, 1999

ISBN: 0-609-60249-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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