Plenty of humor and a great heroine are pluses in this unevenly paced romance.

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NOT THAT KIND OF GUY

A romantic comedy with plot elements from The Proposal and Crazy Rich Asians.

Bridget Nolan, an assistant state’s attorney in Chicago, is “supersmart, no bullshit, and hard as nails.” Raised by her South Side Irish dad and older brothers after her mom abandoned the family, she is totally focused on prosecuting sexual assault cases and crimes against children. She reluctantly agrees to take on Chicago law student Matt Kido as a summer intern only because his connections might secure her a fellowship that would pay her student loans. Matt’s family is politically connected (his grandfather was a senator from Hawaii) and wealthy, which is why they are shocked when he turns down a cushy associate position to intern with the state. Matt is more keen to avoid his cheating ex and defy his parents’ expectations than to be a public servant, but one look at Bridget and he's smitten. The attraction is mutual, so when the internship ends, Bridget invites Matt to her brother’s wedding in Vegas, the better to show up her jerk of an ex-boyfriend, who will also be there. They end up getting drunk and married, having sex, and then deciding to stay together to piss off their relatives until the state of Illinois allows them to divorce. Along the way, they banter, have sex, and fall in love, which scares Bridget: “If she couldn’t make the necessary compromises for [her ex], who had grown up the same way she had, what hope did she have with someone like Matt? Matt lived in a whole other stratosphere.” While Bridget’s ballsy prosecutor persona is described rather than illustrated, she and her family are, on balance, fully developed characters, and readers of Not the Girl You Marry (2019), the first book in the series, will find their return very welcome. Except for his infatuation with Bridget, Matt is underdeveloped, and his ambivalent feelings about his family’s wealth wear somewhat thin. His disapproving Japanese American mother and blonde, rich, pouty ex-girlfriend are caricatures.

Plenty of humor and a great heroine are pluses in this unevenly paced romance.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0270-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Jove/Penguin

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Despite the false start, this heartwarming story sweetly balances friendship and mother-child bonding with romantic love.

WINDOW ON THE BAY

Macomber (Be a Blessing, 2019, etc.) threatens to set her latest beach read in Paris, but her characters have other plans.

Maureen Zelinski and Jenna Boltz have been friends since college. Years ago, their plans to go to Paris were thwarted when Maureen found out she was pregnant. Now that they’re both single mothers whose children have left the nest, the time is right to dust off their passports and try again. In a somewhat disappointing turn of events, Maureen and Jenna don’t make it to Paris just yet. Instead, they stay in Seattle and pursue new love interests. Jenna, a nurse, meets orthopedic surgeon Dr. Rowan Lancaster in the emergency room after her mother falls and hurts her hip. Maureen, against her better judgment, accepts a date with Logan, a union plumber who frequents the library where she works. Jenna is afraid to date a co-worker after her workplace romance with her ex failed, but when Rowan proves to be a good listener, she’s more willing to discuss her options. Maureen doesn’t think she’ll fit in with Logan and his beer-drinking buddies, but she’s surprised when she enjoys their date at a football game. Meanwhile, Jenna worries about her children, Allie and Paul, as they navigate college and life. Though the story is primarily told from the two mothers’ perspectives, Allie breaks into the narrative with a surprising connection to Rowan. Maureen’s daughter, Tori, also takes on the role of confidante. The happy endings (and potential travel plans) unfold with a touch of realism to contrast the idyllic backdrop of the Pacific Northwest.

Despite the false start, this heartwarming story sweetly balances friendship and mother-child bonding with romantic love.

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-18133-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

OUTFOX

An FBI agent is determined to catch a man who bilks and murders wealthy women, but the chase goes slowly.

Brown (Tailspin, 2018, etc.) has published 70 bestsellers, and this one employs her usual template of thriller spiked with romance. Its main character, Drex Easton, is an FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer, but for him it’s personal. When he was a boy, his mother left him and his father for another man, Weston Graham. Drex believes Graham murdered her and that he has killed at least seven more women after emptying their bank accounts. Now he thinks he has the clever Graham—current alias Jasper Ford—in his sights, and he’s willing to put his career at risk to catch him. The women Ford targets are wealthy, and his new prey is no exception—except that, uncharacteristically, he has married her. Talia Ford proves to be a complication for Drex, who instantly falls in lust with her even though he’s not at all sure she isn’t her husband's accomplice. Posing as a would-be novelist, Drex moves into an apartment next door to the Fords’ posh home and tries to ingratiate himself, but tensions rise immediately—Jasper is suspicious, and Talia has mixed feelings about Drex's flirtatious behavior. When Talia’s fun-loving friend Elaine Conner turns up dead after a cruise on her yacht and Jasper disappears, Drex and Talia become allies. There are a few action sequences and fewer sex scenes, but the novel’s pace bogs down repeatedly in long, mundane conversations. Drex's two FBI agent sidekicks are more interesting characters than he is; Drex himself is such a caricature of a macho man, so heedless of ethics, and so aggressive toward women that it’s tough to see him as a good guy. Brown adds a couple of implausible twists at the very end that make him seem almost as untrustworthy as Graham.

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7219-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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