A simplistic but well-written love story.

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A SCANDALOUS HUSBAND

Pettersen’s (Studs and Stilettos, 2013) sweet cowboy romance challenges the notions of trust and forgiveness when those you love betray you.

Dani Tattrie is struggling to keep her ranch afloat while her husband, ex-biker Dex, does prison time after engaging in the ultimate betrayal and shutting her out. Her shattered heart is in as much disrepair as her ranch, but she’s a survivor, determined to do what it takes to recover and find her feet again. While Dex carefully navigates prison to ensure his own survival, Dani is being ruthlessly courted by Jeffrey, a town cop whom her minister father adores. Dex offers no excuses for what he’s done, but in prison, he’s risking his own future to protect others. Jeffrey is blatantly portrayed as a one-dimensional, manipulative mismatch for Dani, which winds up making Dani look weak and unsympathetic for falling for him as much as she does. Although Dex’s experiences in prison are vividly written, engaging and realistic, the real story doesn’t begin until halfway through the book, when he’s released from prison and returns to try to reclaim his old life with the wife who no longer trusts him. The extensive scenes between Jeffrey and Dani, which often illustrate his lack of support for her horse world and his insistence that she sell her beloved ranch, can feel redundant at times, making readers impatient for Dex and Dani to finally start interacting. When they finally get together, the chemistry between them is palpable, and as trust slowly regrows, it’s enjoyable to witness true love blossoming for a second time. Yet it seems that their entire conflict could have been cleared up by a simple conversation before the book even begins. The horse scenes in the book are wonderfully rich, showcasing Pettersen’s expertise and passion for horses. The surprise ending with Dani’s brother has an unexpected, clever twist, but the resolution feels rather incomplete since some characters never get their dues.

A simplistic but well-written love story.

Pub Date: July 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0988115170

Page Count: 290

Publisher: Westerhall

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2014

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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