A seemingly superfluous sequel.

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THE WICKED REDHEAD

Williams’ follow-up to The Wicked City (2017) continues the Prohibition-era adventures of a young woman torn between two brothers.

We last saw titular redhead Geneva “Ginger” Kelly on the lam with her new boyfriend, Prohibition agent Oliver Anson, after a violent altercation with Appalachian bootleggers, including Ginger’s villainous stepfather, Duke Kelly, who died in the melee. Another casualty of that violence, Oliver’s younger brother, Billy, jaw shattered by Duke’s brass knuckles, is now under the care of the brothers’ mother, the imperious blueblood Mrs. Marshall. This novel opens as Oliver and Ginger have taken refuge in Cocoa Beach, Florida, with the Fitzwilliams, whom readers will recall from another Williams series (Cocoa Beach, 2017, etc.). In a continuing storyline from the first installment, Ella Gilbert, in 1998, is trying to sort out her love life with soul mate Hector, particularly now that she’s learned she’s pregnant by her soon-to-be-ex hubby, Patrick. Ella’s story is still tangential to Ginger’s tale despite stronger hints of linkages between the two women. Since nothing much is going on in Florida except an ominous, too-brief introduction to the armada of rum-running vessels lurking just outside coastal waters, the action (such as it is) shifts to the Marshalls’ Manhattan and Southampton manses. Mrs. Marshall, aware that Ginger and Billy were once lovers, has summoned Ginger to help with Billy’s recovery—by pretending to be his pregnant fiancee. Unhelpfully, Ginger's soul mate, Oliver, has gone back undercover and is oddly cold toward her. Ginger’s first-person voice, that of a feisty hillbilly–turned–Manhattan flapper, is authentic enough, if a bit stilted, as if too much research had gone into imagining her argot. And Ginger’s mental observations are recounted with a degree of detail that, while fulfilling its intended effect of re-creating the period and social milieu, does little to advance the story. There really is no throughline here—this novel is largely an extended anticlimax to Volume 1. After 400-plus pages, many loose ends remain, perhaps auguring a third book.

A seemingly superfluous sequel.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-266032-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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A promising start to a series, provided Roberts can flesh out her derivative heroine.

THE WITNESS

A young woman in hiding from the Russian mob faces a difficult decision when she falls in love with a cop.

Abigail, 28, lives alone in the bucolic hamlet of Bickford, Ark., in an isolated house, fortified with firearms, a state-of-the-art alarm system and a vicious dog named Bert. When the town’s genial police chief, Brooks, suspects Abigail is packing while shopping for gourmet groceries, his curiosity soon morphs into courtship. Although she finds herself drawn to Brooks and to his welcoming, bohemian family, Abigail dares not reveal that her real name is Liz—which is not the only way in which she appears to be Roberts’ answer to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Gifted with an eidetic memory, an IQ over 200 and an affinity for cool, calculated mayhem, Liz/Abigail is a skilled hacker and a highly paid security consultant. In her spare time she investigates the Russian mob and the crooked federal agents who are responsible for her current predicament; whenever possible, she throws virtual monkey wrenches into the mob’s Internet scams. When she witnesses an altercation between Brooks and the wastrel son of a local magnate, she’s thrust back into the horror of the last time she witnessed a crime. At 16, rebelling against an unloving, controlling mother, Liz and a girlfriend, Julie, visited a Chicago nightclub run by the Russian Mafia, where Ilya, son of gang kingpin Sergei, and Alexi, a cousin, seduced them with Cosmos. Later, at Alexi’s lakeside home, Liz was an unseen witness to a hit on Alexi by Sergei’s enforcers, who also killed Julie. Managing to escape, Liz was forced to run again when two dirty FBI agents destroyed her safe house and murdered her guards. A person of interest to both the Feds and the mob, she’s been on the lam for 12 years. Before they can marry, Brooks must help Liz come in from the cold.

A promising start to a series, provided Roberts can flesh out her derivative heroine.

Pub Date: April 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-15912-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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