Romance, suspense, mystery, and bawdy historical customs add up to a fine read.

A STROKE OF MALICE

A couple with a reputation for crime-solving becomes involved in an odd murder case in 1832 Scotland.

Kiera Gage, better known as Lady Darby, and her husband, Sebastian Gage (An Artless Demise, 2019, etc.), are among the five dozen guests the Duke and Duchess of Bowmont have invited to Twelfth Night festivities at an immense Gothic castle in the Scottish border country. Kiera’s first marriage—the source of the title she'd rather not use—made her both miserable and notorious for executing anatomical drawings for her cruel husband, but she’s more recently gained a reputation as a portrait artist, and the Duchess is her client. Each guest at the ball is given a costume to wear and a role to play; amusingly, the heavily pregnant Kiera is a nun. Although the Duke claims all his children as his own, several of them were actually sired by other men. When his third son, Lord Edward, offers a ghost tour, the Gages are happy to escape the ballroom until the group stumbles upon a dead body in the dungeons. Ravaged by rats and decomposition, the corpse is difficult to identify, but its gentlemanly attire suggests that it may be Helmswick, the husband of the duke's daughter Lady Eleanor, who left for Paris a month ago. The ducal couple beg the Gages to investigate while withholding vital information. Lady Eleanor was unhappy with Helmswick, a man of many secrets and mistresses, and she’s commenced an affair with her first love, the Marquess of Marsdale. After the guests who were not at the castle when the murder occurred are permitted to depart, a disconcerting number of suspects remain behind. Kiera knows she’s touched a nerve when someone tries to push her down a flight of stairs. She and Gage must uncover many family secrets before they can unmask a killer.

Romance, suspense, mystery, and bawdy historical customs add up to a fine read.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-451-49138-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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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An entertaining page-turner.

MET HER MATCH

Terri Rayburn is devastated that her perfect man belongs to someone else, but once Nate Taggert realizes that Terri's the one for him, her complicated past still stands in the way of their being together.

Terri is attracted to Nate the moment she lays eyes on him, and soon they fall into an easy partnership at the Virginia lake resort she runs with her father. Nate is upfront about being engaged to the mayor’s daughter, Stacy, but she’s in Europe for a few weeks, and it quickly becomes clear to Terri that Nate and Stacy aren’t a great match. However, Terri, whose mother left when she was 2, has always had a problematic relationship with the citizens of Summer Hill. Since Leslie disappeared, the town gossip has made sure everyone remembers her as a promiscuous vixen, a label which tainted Terri as she got older and made her look like a problem when, as Nate begins to understand, she was really a victim. It’s clear to everyone around them that they are falling in love, but even as Nate realizes it himself, Terri is adamant that they can’t be together. She won’t steal him from the popular Stacy because it would mean she’d never be able to live in Summer Hill, and she won’t abandon her father. Deveraux spins an intriguing and unorthodox romance, continuing her Summer Hill branch of the Taggert/Montgomery series with two characters who have some unique, interesting obstacles in their paths and navigate through them with secrets uncovered and old wounds healed. The story is well plotted, though Nate is unnecessarily oblivious sometimes and the book takes an unexpected swing into romantic suspense territory in the last quarter. The solved mystery resolves Nate and Terri’s conflict, though the villain’s motivations seem a little cartoonish.

An entertaining page-turner.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7783-5124-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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