An often engaging mystery, bolstered by complex, well-developed characters, exotic locations and an effective narrative...

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The STATE OF GRACE

AN ADVENTUROUS MEMORY

In Hannah’s debut novel, the past and present collide in unexpected and dangerous ways as a woman searches for her missing friend.

Errica Hawthorn’s life is at a crossroads. Still reeling from a devastating miscarriage and the subsequent deterioration of her marriage, she’s moved back to her hometown and started working as an assistant to her father, Kenneth, a retired diplomat. Her relationship with her emotionally distant father has been complicated, due to the demands of his career and the family’s frequent moves around the world. At college in the mid-1970s, Errica met Birdy Grace, a young woman whose effervescence and sense of adventure captivated her. They became inseparable friends, and together with Birdy’s boyfriend, Harper, they traveled to Morocco, where they became involved in international drug trafficking. When Birdy disappeared after a drug deal went bad, Errica asked her father for help. Later, she was heartbroken to learn that Birdy had died. More than 20 years later, however, a series of events convinces her that there was more to Birdy’s disappearance than she was ever told. Her renewed search leads her back to Morocco, where she confronts the past and discovers some surprising family secrets. Hannah weaves a compelling tale, employing flashbacks that parallel Errica’s present-day life and journey to Morocco. At times, however, the prose could have used a bit more polish; for example, the English actress Hayley Mills is referred to as “Haley Mills” and the expression “well-heeled” is spelled “well-healed.” That said, Hannah makes Errica just as fascinating and complex as the television heroines she admires, such as Peggy Lipton’s character from The Mod Squad. She effectively shows how Errica has been defined by her father’s career and the propriety it demands, but also how she secretly longs for a more adventurous life. Overall, Errica’s Moroccan adventures, both as a student and as an adult, frequently pulse with excitement and danger. Birdy Grace is a vivid, memorable foil, and their friendship is both convincing and poignant.

An often engaging mystery, bolstered by complex, well-developed characters, exotic locations and an effective narrative structure.

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-1499391152

Page Count: 418

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2014

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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 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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