This is worth a read because of the twists in the criminal investigation, in spite of a not-so-scintillating love story.

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A TALENT FOR TRICKERY

A viscount investigating a murder for the crown is reunited with the beautiful daughter of a criminal he nabbed several years before.

Johnson (A Christmas Dance, 2014, etc.) returns with the first book in her new Victorian-era Thief Takers series. Owen Renderwell was awarded a viscountcy for service to the crown, but now he’s in a quandary. A string of robberies culminating with a murder is leading him back to an old investigation. William Walker, notorious swindler and thief, often used codes and ciphers to communicate with his colleagues. Similar codes are showing up in letters left at this latest series of crime scenes, but Walker died 8 years ago, and his daughter Charlotte, now living under an assumed name with her younger sister and brother, hasn’t forgiven Owen for her father’s death. Owen needs Lottie’s help to crack the code before the killer strikes again. But when he and his men visit Lottie in the country, they realize they’ve led the criminal right to the Walker children, which may have been the killer's intent all along. While Charlotte and Owen work to decipher the letters using William Walker’s old journals, someone besieges the house by setting fire to the barn and firing a gun through the window. Lottie and Owen must learn to trust each other amid a decade’s worth of lies and deception, and Lottie must face the fact that her 14-year-old brother is growing up and is not going to believe her whitewashed version of their family history forever. The author manages to surprise the reader time and again, making this a successful mystery novel, but the romance itself is rather humdrum and predictable.

This is worth a read because of the twists in the criminal investigation, in spite of a not-so-scintillating love story.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4926-2050-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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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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