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

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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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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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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