DOWNTOWN

Fresh from a fictional European jaunt in last year's Hill Towns, Siddons returns to the American South to depict a sheltered young woman's first taste of independence in the late 1960s. Raised to be a ``decent Catholic girl,'' 26-year-old Smoky O'Donnell leaves her working-class Savannah home for the bright lights of Atlanta, lured by a job offer from Matt Comfort, the talented and high-spirited editor of Downtown magazine. The newest senior editor easily fits in with ``Comfort's People,'' the magazine's small in-house staff, and relishes the on-the-town group socializing that is part of the job, but she becomes frustrated by Matt's (sexist) insistence on occupying her with mundane tasks. Smoky's break comes when she meets charming and wealthy Brad Hunt, who wants her to conduct his previously scheduled Downtown interview—as their first date. The civil rights movement exists only as background to the sheltered Smoky, and although Brad mentions the race ``problem,'' this thread is taken up by two people who become increasingly important to her: Lucas Geary, an accomplished photographer with an irritating habit of aiming his Leica up women's skirts, and his friend John Howard, who is one of Martin Luther King's ``closest lieutenants.'' Smoky's career progresses as satisfactorily as does her romance with Brad. Yet even before Lucas and art director Tom Gordon head out for a look at the ``youth culture'' across the American landscape, one senses that the heady '60s culture (and Downtown as microcosm) will be shown to contain self-indulgence and other seeds of its own decay. Siddons draws her ensemble cast with confidence and panache. But her treatment of serious subjects like race, abortion, and the sexual revolution is troubled by ambiguity, as if she were playing both sides of these volatile issues. (First serial to Cosmopolitan; Book-of-the-Month Club main selection; $325,000 ad/promo; author tour)

Pub Date: July 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-06-017934-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1994

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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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