A fast, fun read that would have benefited from less setup and more action.

READ REVIEW

HOLLYWOOD DIRT

A self-proclaimed “hillbilly” finds unexpected film stardom and romance.

“Southern women are unique; there is no disputing that.” So begins Torre’s novel starring 29-year-old Summer Jenkins of Quincy, Georgia, a small town with nearly 50 millionaire families who, back in the day, bought shares in a yet-unknown company called Coca-Cola. Summer and her beauty queen–turned­–bank-teller mother, however, are outcasts. They weren’t born and raised in Quincy, and an incident involving Summer, her wealthy ex-fiance, and a backstabbing bridal party still looms large in the minds of Quincy’s elite. Three years later, Summer longs to escape but lacks the resources until Hollywood comes to town. Superstar Cole Masten is producing and starring in The Fortune Bottle,a film adaptation of a novel about Quincy’s rags-to-riches history. He’s searching for an escape of his own after catching his movie star wife Nadia Smith in flagrante with her latest director and starting divorce proceedings with Brad DeLuca, a shark of a lawyer. Summer first befriends flamboyant location scout Bennington Payne and introduces him to the town—for a price—but when Cole arrives in Quincy and clashes with the feisty small-town woman in a spectacular fashion, he sees something he never expected: a leading lady. As Summer struggles to adapt to an acting job that could propel her out of Quincy for good, she fights her feelings for the cocksure actor, which are fast progressing from lust to love. New York Times bestselling author Torre provides both Summer’s and Cole’s perspectives, giving insight into the copious obstacles each is overcoming—as well as more than one steamy sex scene. Based on a real town, Quincy is a quirky, enjoyable character on its own. However, the first two-thirds of the book set up Summer and Cole’s inevitable relationship and then skims over many of their conflicts, missing an opportunity for rich exploration.

A fast, fun read that would have benefited from less setup and more action.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5394-6909-4

Page Count: 429

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2020

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A cozy quilt of recycled rom-com tropes.

THIS TIME NEXT YEAR

British babies born in the same hospital in the first minutes of New Years' Day 1990 meet again on their 30th birthdays.

"Look, Shaylene, I'm sure you've seen Sleepless in Seattle? You know that bit where Meg Ryan is supposed to meet Tom Hanks at the top of the Empire State Building on Valentine's Day? Well I'm in a situation a bit like that," pleads the likable but self-defeating pie entrepreneur Minnie Cooper during the climax of Cousens' debut. Yes, she certainly is, having struggled for more than 300 pages through every rom-com trope in the book. Her story begins on New Years' Eve 1989, when her mother, Connie, goes through labor with a waifish but well-heeled wardmate named Tara Hamilton. One of them will win a cash prize for giving birth to the first baby of 1990, and wouldn't you know, it's the rich lady who doesn't need the money. Not only that, she steals the lucky name Connie has chosen for her child: Quinn. Furious, the Coopers decide instead on Minnie, not realizing that this will subject their daughter to a lifetime of self-esteem–crushing car jokes. On the other hand, Minnie needs her self-esteem crushed so that when she runs into the rich, handsome, mensch-y Quinn Hamilton on their shared birthday 30 years later she can spend a year spontaneously generating one mistaken impression after another so the two don't just accept what fate so clearly intends for them. While Quinn and Minnie don't stray far from type, they are surrounded by an entertaining supporting cast—Minnie's irritating punster boyfriend; her amateur horologist dad; her employees at the not-for-profit pie bakery, particularly a platinum blond wastrel named Fleur. Mother Connie is a bit of a problem, though. Seething with resentment about the stolen name and other injustices, she's a cold and negative mother who passes the chip on her shoulder to her daughter—until something happens offstage and she turns into a completely different person. Not sure what movie this comes from, but it doesn't work.

A cozy quilt of recycled rom-com tropes.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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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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