In a crumbling castle in Cornwall, two inauthentic men from vastly different registers of Regency society find in each other...

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THE LAWRENCE BROWNE AFFAIR

A London swindler falls for his mark, a mad earl, in this Cornwall-set Regency romance.

As Penkellis Castle falls to ruins around him, Lawrence Browne, the Earl of Radnor, hides in the tower, working feverishly on inventing a telegraphlike device. His servants have fled, the villagers think he’s demonic, and Lawrence himself is convinced the madness and depravity that consumed his father and brother will claim his life as well. This gothic setup is punctured when professional confidence man Georgie Turner arrives on Radnor’s moldering doorstep, posing as a secretary. Georgie recently aborted a lucrative assignment thanks to a sudden bout of conscience, a development his furious boss would like to properly, and violently, acknowledge. He’s not impressed with the Mad Earl: “I had hoped for some good old fashioned howling at the moon, and all you do is build ingenious inventions and eat too much ham.” Georgie is beautiful, slender, and graceful to Lawrence’s bearded, hulking form. Lawrence dismisses his cool and neat secretary as a London dandy, but Georgie, a swindler practically from his birth in the slums of London, quickly, and astutely, assesses the situation and begins putting Penkellis to rights while at the same time appraising its valuables. Sebastian (The Soldier’s Scoundrel, 2016) nicely contrasts Georgie’s frankness and sexual openness with the deceitfulness at his core. Sebastian infuses a romance that could have been dark with a constant thrum of mild humor and steady wonder: “Then Radnor flashed him one of his rare smiles, and Georgie felt simultaneously like he had been given a precious gift and like he had been hit in the head with a shovel.” Lawrence’s character is complicated by social anxiety and sexual shame over his “perverse tastes”: a thornier nest of issues than “madness” but an easier one to untangle. Georgie’s change of heart is less effective because he was never much of a convincing scoundrel, but readers will be thrilled by the way his empowering love for Lawrence comes back to him in a time of need.

In a crumbling castle in Cornwall, two inauthentic men from vastly different registers of Regency society find in each other an authentic and passionate love. Another exquisitely written, deeply romantic novel from Sebastian.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-264250-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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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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