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LIE BY MOONLIGHT

For fans of Quick, certainly another pleaser as romance and murder and silk flounces abound. For the uninitiated, beware:...

Ambrose ravishes Concordia. And so goes another historical romance from the remarkably prolific Quick (aka Jayne Ann Krentz), author of equally numerous contemporary thrillers.

In this Victorian-era mystery, freethinking governess Concordia Gale rescues her charges from certain ruin. Hired to teach four orphans at a remote castle, Concordia soon discovers the mysterious benefactor’s nefarious plan: to auction off the young ladies to the highest bidder. In a MacGyver-like move, Concordia blows up the castle and she and the girls escape, with the unexpected help of Ambrose Wells, a private inquiry agent brought to the castle for his own investigations. Ambrose brings Concordia and the girls back to his stately London manse for safe keeping—the crime lord behind the auction will stop at nothing—nothing!—to get the girls back. Meanwhile, Ambrose and Concordia act on their passion. Indeed, ever since Ambrose first spied her “charmingly rounded derriere” on horseback, the two have been practicing the fine art of flirtation. And they soon discover they have much in common. Concordia is the illegitimate daughter of two radical free-thinkers, and was raised in their community of like-minded intellectuals. This makes Concordia determined and worldly. A rumored sex-scandal at the commune has ruined Concordia’s reputation, and she must hide her past at all costs. Likewise, Ambrose comes from a long line of swindlers and as an orphaned teenager became a master burglar, skills he now uses as an investigator. Reformed by the wealthy Mr. Stoner (whose house he lives in, whose heir he is), Ambrose spent years in Asia studying the ancient ways of the Vanza from monks. This makes Ambrose mysterious and disciplined. After some undercover investigations (Ambrose and Concordia are now working as a team, which may indicate sequels to come), a few murders and explanations all around, Ambrose and Concordia consummate their relationship amid the ferns in the conservatory.

For fans of Quick, certainly another pleaser as romance and murder and silk flounces abound. For the uninitiated, beware: the purple prose is only a few footsteps away from high camp.

Pub Date: June 7, 2005

ISBN: 0-399-15288-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2005

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SEEING RED

As the plot grows more complicated, it also sheds believability, leaving sex and witty banter to carry the day.

Brown (Mean Streak, 2014, etc.) ticks off the boxes that elevate her books to the bestseller lists in this sexy romantic thriller set in Texas.

Rock-jawed hero with a dark past: check. Strong-willed, beautiful woman who resists his charms: check. A Whitman’s Sampler of bad guys: check. And finally, a convoluted and not always plausible plot: check. In this latest outing, readers meet TV journalist Kerra Bailey, whose family was torn apart years ago by a hotel bombing that killed 197 people in Dallas. Just in time for the 25th anniversary, Kerra scores an interview with the notoriously private Maj. Trapper, who saved her life, among others, when he emerged from the blast to lead the survivors out of danger. There's an iconic, prizewinning photo of the major carrying a little girl from the wreckage, but the child has never been identified—until now, when Kerra goes public with the information that it was her. Just after they finish filming the interview in his home, the major is shot, and an injured Kerra escapes in the confusion. The major’s son, disgraced Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent John Trapper—a name M*A*S*H fans will appreciate—steps in, igniting a chain of events that leads to murder, intrigue, betrayal, and a series of dark revelations. As with most of Brown’s heroes and heroines, there’s palpable sexual tension between Trapper, whose taut rear occupies ample literary real estate, and Kerra, who when dealing with Trapper feels “like he’d lightly scratched her just below her bellybutton” when he’s not making her “pleasure points throb.” The complex plot plays out in a round of reveals that don’t always make a lot of sense, but that’s not why Brown’s fans read her books. They check in for the witty, pitch-perfect dialogue and fluid writing. A master of her genre, Brown knows how to please her most ardent readers but relies too often on the same basic formula from novel to novel.

As the plot grows more complicated, it also sheds believability, leaving sex and witty banter to carry the day.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7210-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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ON MYSTIC LAKE

Hannah, after eight paperbacks, abandons her successful time-travelers for a hardcover life of kitchen-sink romance. Everyone must have got the Olympic Peninsula memo for this spring because, as of this reading, authors Hannah, Nora Roberts, and JoAnn Ross have all placed their newest romances in or near the Quinault rain forest. Here, 40ish Annie Colwater, returns to Washington State after her husband, high-powered Los Angeles lawyer Blake, tells her he’s found another (younger) woman and wants a divorce. Although a Stanford graduate, Annie has known only a life of perfect wifedom: matching Blake’s ties to his suits and cooking meals from Gourmet magazine. What is she to do with her shattered life? Well, she returns to dad’s house in the small town of Mystic, cuts off all her hair (for a different look), and goes to work as a nanny for lawman Nick Delacroix, whose wife has committed suicide, whose young daughter Izzy refuses to speak, and who himself has descended into despair and alcoholism. Annie spruces up Nick’s home on Mystic Lake and sends “Izzy-bear” back into speech mode. And, after Nick begins attending AA meetings, she and he become lovers. Still, when Annie learns that she’s pregnant not with Nick’s but with Blake’s child, she heads back to her empty life in the Malibu Colony. The baby arrives prematurely, and mean-spirited Blake doesn’t even stick around to support his wife. At this point, it’s perfectly clear to Annie—and the reader—that she’s justified in taking her newborn daughter and driving back north. Hannah’s characters indulge in so many stages of the weeps, from glassy eyes to flat-out sobs, that tear ducts are almost bound to stay dry. (First printing of 100,000; first serial to Good Housekeeping; Literary Guild/Doubleday book club selections)

Pub Date: March 31, 1999

ISBN: 0-609-60249-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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