The story should have been gripping, but instead it seems to happen at great distance, failing to reclaim this history for a...

READ REVIEW

THE PRETENDER’S LADY

In his latest novel, Gold (The Lost Testament, 1996, etc.) explores a marginalized part of history and introduces an admirable heroine.

Plucky Scot Flora Macdonald is enamored of Charles Stuart, who's come to Scotland to claim his throne only to be ignominiously defeated by the Duke of Cumberland. Flora helps “Bonnie Prince Charlie” escape, hoping he'll return one day with more troops. Flora sleeps with the handsome young man, and they perform a secret, symbolic marriage ceremony before he escapes to France. Flora’s actions make her a legend across Scotland but also bring her to the attention of the British, and she's imprisoned in the Tower of London and used as a pawn by the heir to the throne before giving birth to Charlie’s son (whose father everyone assumes is her fiance). Fast-forward 25 years, and Flora, now living in America with her family on the brink of the Revolution, believes she must expose her secret so her son can claim his royal birthright. The larger historical background of the Enlightenment leading to both the American and French revolutions is interesting, and the Scottish struggle is poignant, but all the other characters, including everyone from the prince to David Hume, Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, and Samuel Johnson, seem to show up primarily to prove Flora’s worth beyond a doubt. The dialogue, unfortunately, is stilted and pompous; almost everyone speaks in speeches, and Flora herself usually ends up “burst[ing] out laughing,” apparently proving her charm. Hardly any character is developed enough to feel three-dimensional, and this gets at the heart of the novel’s weakness: too much telling and not enough showing.

The story should have been gripping, but instead it seems to happen at great distance, failing to reclaim this history for a modern audience.

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63158-048-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Yucca/Skyhorse

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

On the day her fiance came out and left her at the altar, Faith escaped to the West Coast, where she’s had a thriving...

THE BEST MAN

When Faith Holland was abandoned at the altar three years ago, she left her hometown for San Francisco to regroup; coming home to Manningsport, she’ll have to confront her past and Levi Cooper, the disturbingly handsome chief of police she blames for ruining her life.

On the day her fiance came out and left her at the altar, Faith escaped to the West Coast, where she’s had a thriving professional life and a comical romantic life. Summoned home for a few months to work the harvest at her family’s winery and help with some crisis management, Faith realizes that some things in her small town will never change—for the good or the bad—but she knows the time has come to establish a new reality with her ex, her family and maybe even Levi Cooper, the best man who forced Jeremy to be honest with her and himself on their wedding day. It’s so much easier to blame and despise him; if she lets down her guard, she might have to deal with their short but profound shared past and her own guilt and secrets from a long-ago tragedy that has haunted her for most of her life. Higgins’ newest heart-tugging romantic comedy juggles a spectrum of emotionally powerful elements, including the death of a mother, the abandonment of a father and a sigh-worthy high school romance gone awry. With her typical engaging voice, compelling storytelling and amusing dialogue, Higgins keeps the audience flipping through pages as quickly as possible, but it is her spot-on ability to make her characters at once funny, authentic and vulnerable—vulnerable to the point of breaking, so they can heal, stronger and better and more able to love—that is her true genius and guarantees most romance fans will both laugh out loud and get teary, sometimes at the same time. Another sweet, touching must-read for Higgins fans and anyone who enjoys a perfect combination of humor and romance.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-373-77792-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

more