Disappointing.

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THE LAWMAN

After six months in the big city, Jess Porterfield has to find his place in his small hometown, so accepting the position of marshal seems like a good way to prove himself, especially when the woman he loves is threatened by a powerful enemy.

Jess isn't proud of the fact that he left his family just when they needed him most, right after the death of his father, when the town’s detested Tipton brothers, Jasper and Buck, were trying to take over their ranch. Restless and grieving, Jess made plans to leave for Kansas City and asked Addie Wilcox, the woman he wanted to marry, to come with him, but she refused. Six months away was enough to make Jess realize how much he missed his family and his girl, but in coming back, he’s stunned to learn that his sister has solved many of the crises that had overwhelmed him. Addie is angry and hurt, which isn’t completely surprising, but disturbingly, Buck Tipton has his sights on her. Plus there are rumors flying that his father was murdered by the Tiptons, even though another man has been charged with the crime—the former marshal. Since the position is open, Jess throws his hat in the ring and is hired, then begins to earn the town’s trust with his levelheaded problem-solving. However, things take a serious turn when Jasper Tipton’s wife, Pearl, turns up dead, and Buck accuses Addie of murdering her. Dragged to Tucson and thrown into a horrible jail, Addie champions better conditions for the prisoners even as Jess has to figure out how to save her from hanging and convince her he loves her. Despite some intriguing historical details, the writing is uninspired, and many of the characters’ choices are annoying or too easy—Addie’s day-to-day seesaw feelings toward Jess, her overdramatic “confession” regarding Pearl, Buck’s drunken admission to his brother that exonerates her, etc.—ultimately dragging down the pace and overall solidity of the book.

Disappointing.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4926-1299-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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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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A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

THE DECEPTION

A successful businesswoman hires a smooth-talking bounty hunter to find a lead on her sister’s murder.

Kate Gallagher was the only one available to identify her younger sister Chrissy’s body after she was found dead, having run away from home two years earlier. Since Chrissy succumbed to drugs and turned to sex work to survive, her murder isn't taken seriously by the local homicide department. Kate is filled with grief and regret at not having been there for her sister, and she’s determined to find her killer as a kind of penance. Jason Maddox is the charming man Kate almost hooked up with at a local bar. He also happens to be on the payroll of the most successful investigation company in Dallas. He’s all too eager to help Kate out and spend more time getting to know the blonde he danced with at the Sagebrush Saloon. At first, Kate and Jason vow to keep things professional until the case is solved; there’s obvious attraction that they’re willing to pursue at a later date. But the increasing sense of danger mixed with Kate and Jason’s close proximity proves to be too heady of a combination. The tension never lets up as the pair visit seedy bars and interrogate unsavory characters. With a steamy romance and undeniably hot chemistry, the main characters are well matched. They’re both driven, slightly stubborn, and enjoy the adrenaline rush of catching criminals. Martin (The Conspiracy, 2019, etc.) doesn’t skimp on graphic, violent details as Chrissy’s murder leads her couple to something much bigger: human trafficking. Though not for the faint of heart given its weighty material, this is an un-put-down-able page-turner that’s sure to satisfy fans of romance and thrillers alike.

A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-335-00769-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin HQN

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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