An exciting world filled with memorable characters that could, at times, benefit from more subtlety.

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BENAJAH'S KEEPER

A debut author offers a welcome, fresh perspective on the vampire canon.

Is Dougan’s novel enough to resurrect the vampire genre? It just may be, for readers who like a subtle dose of morality with their bloodsuckers. In the world of Evanna Amaranthine, vampires are guardians who protect humanity from itself. These vamps feed only on society’s dregs, but that moral bent isn’t enough to stop the hatred of a single line of determined vampire killers. One born each generation, the latest is more fanatical than his predecessors, and Evanna’s mission is to kill him. Not quite a human, but not something Evanna’s ever experienced either, vampire-assassin Rian Delmar lacks any redeeming qualities (which also makes him a thinly realized character). To get close enough to kill him, Evanna must masquerade as human, while living with fellow vamp Zak. It’s Zak who’s the catalyst here; he introduces Evanna to the human world, which includes a persistent human painter named Messiah. Zak’s other purpose—and Messiah’s—is to teach Evanna how to open herself up to human emotions—and with them, the memories of her past human life. Regrettably, the novel doesn’t fully explore Evanna’s self-discoveries, but it opens the door for future installments. The main characters are generally rich, and Evanna’s process of mastering the nuances of human life adds interest and counters the occasional bouts of predictability. Why no one identified the vampire who aids Rian is a mystery, one that overshadows the other, better mysteries in the novel. For example: Who is the Keeper, what does he know, and how do his secrets change vampire society—and Evanna, in particular? She may be The Favored One, but she’s only beginning to learn what that means.

An exciting world filled with memorable characters that could, at times, benefit from more subtlety.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-1477562321

Page Count: 396

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2013

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A classic plot plus Lauren's trademark snark and steam add up to a winning rom-com full of heart and holiday cheer.

IN A HOLIDAZE

A Christmas wish leads to a Christmas nightmare when one woman gets stuck reliving the holiday season, Groundhog Day style.

Things aren’t going as planned for Maelyn Jones. At the age of 26, she’s living with her mom and stepdad, she’s stuck in a dead-end job, and, perhaps most important, she just had an eggnog-filled holiday hookup with Theo Hollis, her family friend and the brother of her unrequited lifelong crush, Andrew Hollis. Maelyn’s spent years waiting for Andrew to notice her as more than a friend, but now she knows she’s screwed things up for good by kissing his brother. The only thing that’s going perfectly in her life is the lovely Park City cabin where her family, Theo and Andrew’s family, and her parents’ other college friends get together every Christmas. But then, on the last day of their vacation, Theo and Andrew’s parents announce that they’re selling the cabin. On the drive to the airport, Maelyn miserably wishes that she could find out what would make her happy…and suddenly, she’s back on the plane to the cabin, pre-Christmas, about to live the whole week over again. With another (and another and another) chance to make things right, will she be able to finally tell Andrew how she feels and discover real happiness? Lauren—the author team behind The Honey-Don’t List (2020) and countless other romantic comedies—is as reliable as ever with this cheery holiday outing. Down-on-her-luck Maelyn is a likable protagonist, and it’s easy to relate to her desire to fix her life (even if most readers don’t have the benefit of time travel). Her conversations with Andrew are adorably banter-filled, and her relationship with her parents’ friend Benny, an aging, wacky stoner, is sweetly charming.

A classic plot plus Lauren's trademark snark and steam add up to a winning rom-com full of heart and holiday cheer.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982123-94-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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