A romance novel that indulges the senses but its predictability and tidy resolutions can be wearying.



In Polanco’s (Finding Hope, 2017) romance, a glamorous New Yorker learns how to love again after a devastating breakup.

From the outside, Valentina Puig, a 30-something buyer for a successful company called Infinity Acquisitions, appears to have it all: beauty, health, career success, a gorgeous apartment, and an adoring pet. But her love life leaves something to be desired. The novel opens with an announcement in The New York Times that Dr. David Harrington—Valentina’s ex-boyfriend, who left her three weeks ago—is engaged to Diana Monroe, a wealthy philanthropist with tremendous social cachet. Shocked by this news and enraged by the betrayal, Valentina struggles to maintain a sense of normalcy in her life. Although she’s somewhat successful at hiding her suffering, there’s one colleague that isn’t fooled: Marcus Napier, a handsome, charming widower who also happens to be Valentina’s boss. Marcus has long been in love with her, and it pains him to see her grieve; however, it also excites him to know that she’s now single. In the week following the engagement, Valentina tells Marcus that she’s accepted a temporary acquisitions position in Madrid to take a break from New York City. Marcus—afraid that he might miss his chance—decides to invite her out for a lavish dinner, during which he confesses his feelings. Stunned, Valentina spends the rest of the novel struggling with her budding lust for Marcus, and the plot twists during her time in Madrid only further complicate matters. Throughout this novel, Polanco adeptly renders the atmospherics of glamorous, tumultuous life in the Big Apple and abroad; indeed, to read this story is to get lost in a luxurious lifestyle fairy tale: the players have champagne taste in everything that they wear, eat, and drive, as well as in everyone that they sleep with (the sex scenes are particularly steamy). However, the characters are also rather melodramatic; the swiftness with which they move through various conflicts feels a bit unrealistic, and the haste with which various plot turns resolve themselves sometimes makes for a lackluster reading experience.

A romance novel that indulges the senses but its predictability and tidy resolutions can be wearying.

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5320-0447-6

Page Count: 198

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2018

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Another success for the publishing phenom.


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 clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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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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