A satisfying supernatural YA tale that effectively mixes high school, magic and mystery.

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THE SHADOW AND THE ROSE

Teenagers in love battle a supernatural villain in this debut young-adult novel.

Joy Sumner is an unassuming music student at Ash Grove, a prestigious performing-arts boarding school in North Carolina. Her father is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, so Joy spends her time in the company of her loyal, plucky friends. When they overhear someone teasing a new student about the school’s haunted graveyard, Joy bravely offers to put the myth to the test. She enters the graveyard at midnight and is surprised to find she’s not alone: Tanner Lindsey, a handsome Ash Grove dropout, is brooding there—and he and Joy soon share a dramatic kiss. Joy’s daring graveyard jaunt is overshadowed the next day by news of Melisande, a popular supermodel, arriving in Ash Grove with plans to recruit students as models. Joy is startled to find Tanner among Melisande’s entourage, scantily clad and apparently drowsy with lust for his mentor. He’s known now as Tristan, and he dismisses Joy, causing Joy’s friends to grow suspicious. Tristan appears on Ash Grove’s campus the next day, whisking Joy away and revealing how he went from being Tanner, a neglected musician, to Tristan, Melisande’s most promising protégé. Although Joy is concerned about Melisande’s mysterious power over Tristan, she continues their romance in secret until Melisande and her followers, including Tristan, disappear. While slogging through the emotional fallout, Joy discovers she’s pregnant. Not long after, she experiences a strange “time slip” on campus, and the school’s adults inform her that Ash Grove’s many myths may not be myths after all. Joined by her friends, Joy sets out to rescue Tanner from Melisande’s dangerous spell. The author portrays Joy and her friends smart and easy to love—especially Maddie, her sarcastic and protective best friend (she describes Melisande’s mansion as “the Ikea version” of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water home.) Readers may wish for a more daring future for Joy, but her and Tanner’s love is consistently believable. Their independence makes Ash Grove a realistic and engaging world, and its seclusion, fierce loyalties among friends, and compassionate adults are Hogwarts-like at times.

A satisfying supernatural YA tale that effectively mixes high school, magic and mystery. 

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-1480099500

Page Count: 274

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2013

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A heartfelt look at taking second chances, in life and in love.

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BEACH READ

Two struggling authors spend the summer writing and falling in love in a quaint beach town.

January Andrews has just arrived in the small town of North Bear Shores with some serious baggage. Her father has been dead for a year, but she still hasn’t come to terms with what she found out at his funeral—he had been cheating on her mother for years. January plans to spend the summer cleaning out and selling the house her father and “That Woman” lived in together. But she’s also a down-on-her-luck author facing writer’s block, and she no longer believes in the happily-ever-after she’s made the benchmark of her work. Her steadily dwindling bank account, though, is a daily reminder that she must sell her next book, and fast. Serendipitously, she discovers that her new next-door neighbor is Augustus Everett, the darling of the literary fiction set and her former college rival/crush. Gus also happens to be struggling with his next book (and some serious trauma that unfolds throughout the novel). Though the two get off to a rocky start, they soon make a bet: Gus will try to write a romance novel, and January will attempt “bleak literary fiction.” They spend the summer teaching each other the art of their own genres—January takes Gus on a romantic outing to the local carnival; Gus takes January to the burned-down remains of a former cult—and they both process their own grief, loss, and trauma through this experiment. There are more than enough steamy scenes to sustain the slow-burn romance, and smart commentary on the placement and purpose of “women’s fiction” joins with crucial conversations about mental health to add multiple intriguing layers to the plot.

A heartfelt look at taking second chances, in life and in love.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0673-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Jove/Penguin

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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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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