Sebastian upends Regency romance conventions in this sensual, emotional, and upbeat take on the rake/wallflower trope.

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THE RUIN OF A RAKE

Two very different men, haunted by their pasts but drawn to each other, forge a future together.

The third in Sebastian’s Regency romance series (The Lawrence Browne Affair, 2017, etc.) pairs a dissolute, infamous rake with a prim merchant from the Colonies who climbed the social ladder via his sister’s good marriage and his own calculatedly impeccable behavior. “Stuffy, smug, and terribly concerned about what everybody else thought about him,” Julian Medlock is horrified that his sister Eleanor, an eccentric scientist, has allowed her London home to be overrun with revelers, including Lord Courtenay, the thinly disguised subject of a scandalous novel. When Eleanor asks Julian to help smooth Courtenay’s re-entrance into London society, he fears for both his own social standing and his ability to resist the rogue’s charms. Sebastian’s third novel, like the first two, tells the love story of two queer men in Regency England without making their sexuality central to their characters or the plot. Rather, what keep Sebastian and Courtenay emotionally distant are the pasts they cannot face and the secrets they harbor. On the surface, this is an opposites-attract story, but Lord Courtenay and Julian Medlock have both created public personas to mask deep losses and painful regrets. Sebastian’s character-driven novel is sensuously romantic yet grounded in its approach to human relationships, where sometimes concern for others and self-criticism mask selfishness and immaturity. The tone remains light, with sharp and often funny exchanges between the protagonists sprinkled throughout. Similarities between the protagonists are a little too on the nose, and a midnovel wrinkle feels out of character and unnecessary. Sebastian’s regular readers will enjoy the seamless way memorable characters from her first two novels appear here and will long for a stand-alone book that develops Eleanor’s intriguing relationship with her estranged husband.

Sebastian upends Regency romance conventions in this sensual, emotional, and upbeat take on the rake/wallflower trope.

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-264252-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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