An uneven romance novel with two compelling, well-matched main characters.

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

A New Jersey artist and Native American professor reconnect in this second-chance romance.

Mangus “Manny” Chattoche, a New Mexico native and member of the Apache tribe, has taken a position as an architectural history professor at a university in Long Branch, New Jersey. However, there’s more to his cross-country move than professional development. Five years earlier, Manny learned that his college relationship with classmate Carrie resulted in a child. Now that daughter, Emily, is 15 and eager to spend as much time as possible with her father, and Manny sees an opportunity to make up for lost time with both mother and daughter. Meanwhile, Carrie is conflicted. While she’s still wildly attracted to Manny and admires his devotion to their teenager, her Jersey Shore stubbornness kicks in. She questions whether this is too much, too soon. When Manny’s services are retained by local real estate developer Thomas Turner and his daughter, Rachel—whose undergrad crush on Manny hasn’t gone anywhere—the land where they all live and love faces major commercialization that will forever change the loyal community of intellectuals and creatives. Soon, Manny and Carrie find themselves at a crossroads where their homeland, family, and newly reformed romantic bond are all at risk. Austen has created a unique couple in Manny and Carrie. Not only is Manny smart, sensual, and sensitive, he also has strong ties to his family on the reservation in New Mexico. For her part, Carrie is a formidable romance lead who has raised a daughter on her own while making a living as a painter and art teacher. These characters and their history make for rich conflict, to the point where the subplot of Rachel’s personal insecurity and persistent interest in Manny feel clichéd and unnecessary. Also, though a subplot about Emily’s best friend Johnny and his battles in the foster care system is strong, Emily herself often comes off as much younger than her 15 years.

An uneven romance novel with two compelling, well-matched main characters.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73581-980-8

Page Count: 284

Publisher: Emlu Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2020

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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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HONEST ILLUSIONS

Suspenseful, glamorous story of love, blackmail, and magic, set in New Orleans and Washington, D.C., about a family of high-class magicians practicing the time-honored profession of thievery. When magician Maxmillian Nouvelle adopts the 12-year-old runaway Luke Callahan, he gives him more than a family: He teaches him the secrets of blending what's real and what's not...giving people what they want—and also taking what they value. For the Great Nouvelle is a master jewel-thief; stealing from the undeserving rich warms his blood like the anticipation of good sex, a passion that both Luke and Max's bratty daughter Raxanne eventually share. Thirteen years pass: As Luke practices the fine arts of larceny and escapology, Roxanne grows into a flame-haired witch who turns bell, book, and candle into smoke onstage. Offstage, she trades in her David Cassidy poster for Luke; together, they set off sparks that could make an innocent bystander..go up in flames. But Luke's invincibility, like the Great Houdini's, is deceptive: Slimy Sam Wyatt—a former grifter now running for the Senate—slithers in from Luke's past, his frigid heart full of contempt for the family he once tried to seam. He threatens to frame Luke for murder and expose the Nouvelles' after-hours show unless he disappears. Five years later, a homesick Luke reappears, determined to show the disillusioned Roxanne that he's more than smoke and mirrors. Together, they set out to plot vengeance, staking everything on their most daring sting to date. True to the magician's oath, Roberts reveals no secrets, but the illusion works—in a compelling and detail-rich first hardcover. Good escape reading.

Pub Date: July 17, 1992

ISBN: 0-399-13761-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1992

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