Sensitive and knowing exploration of the trickiness—and value—of meaningful relationships.

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THROUGH THICK AND THIN

Two sisters with very different lifestyles come together, then fall apart, when they team up to try and lose weight.

Anxious to shed pounds after the birth of her first child, New Jersey stay-at-home-mom Stephanie Cunningham recruits her New York restaurant critic sister Meredith to go on the Zone diet with her, figuring they can support each other, as they always have. City gal Meredith, who, unlike her sister, has been heavy her whole life, is anxious to slim down, especially after seeing an ex-flame whom she suspects dumped her because of her weight. But this quest is especially daunting for Meredith, who loves—and needs—food so much. She is, after all, very good at her job. The two begin well enough, but issues much bigger than dieting rear their head after Stephanie discovers that her enviably handsome and athletic husband Aubrey has a prescription drug habit. Devastated by this information, but not ready to share it with the somewhat self-absorbed Meredith, Stephanie has a falling out with her sister. This hiatus forces both to face stark realizations about themselves. Stephanie wonders if, even after rehab, she can still love her husband, and Meredith discovers how her type-A habits and unrealistically high expectations have been exacerbating her loneliness. Stephanie also goes on Weight Watchers, while Meredith adopts a remarkably soulful little dog and asks out her equally adorable new yoga instructor Gary. That Gary is a far cry from the lawyers and “junior tycoons” Meredith has long hoped for feels less important than finding someone who accepts her as she is. That the girls cannot stay estranged forever is a forgone conclusion, but it is still gratifying when “perfect” older sister Stephanie admits that she is anything but, then reaches out to her long-time confidant. Shot through with the melancholy of having to make adult choices, Pace’s latest (Pug Hill, 2006, etc.) has its share of bright spots.

Sensitive and knowing exploration of the trickiness—and value—of meaningful relationships.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-425-21561-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2007

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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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Another success for the publishing phenom.

UNDER CURRENTS

An abused boy fights back, escapes, then returns as an attorney to his beloved hometown, but just as he’s falling in love with a transplanted landscaper, a series of attacks from shadowy enemies jeopardizes their happiness.

“From the outside, the house in Lakeview Terrace looked perfect.” Which of course means that it wasn't. We're introduced to the horrifying Dr. Graham Bigelow, who beats his wife and, increasingly as the boy gets older, his son, Zane. On the night of Zane’s prom, a particularly savage attack puts him and his sister in the hospital, and his father blames Zane, landing him in jail. Then his sister stands up for him, enlisting the aid of their aunt, and everything changes, mainly due to Zane’s secret diaries. Nearly 20 years later, Zane leaves a successful career as a lawyer to return to Lakeview, where his aunt and sister live with their families, deciding to hang a shingle as a small-town lawyer. Then he meets Darby McCray, the landscaper who’s recently relocated and taken the town by storm, starting with the transformation of his family’s rental bungalows. The two are instantly intrigued by each other, but they move slowly into a relationship neither is looking for. Darby has a violent past of her own, so she is more than willing to take on the risk of antagonizing a boorish local family when she and Zane help an abused wife. Suddenly Zane and Darby face one attack after another, and even as they grow ever closer under the pressure, the dangers become more insidious. Roberts’ latest title feels a little long and the story is slightly cumbersome, but her greatest strength is in making the reader feel connected to her characters, so “unnecessary details” can also charm and engage.

Another success for the publishing phenom.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20709-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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