A multifaceted, pleasingly unpredictable story of shifting passions between three friends.

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In This Life

A complex love triangle develops between a headstrong young doctor and the two men in her life in this latest novel from Brae (Insipid, 2014).

Twenty-something physician Anna Dillon decides to escape the turmoil of her life in New York City by volunteering at a medical clinic in a small village in Thailand. Along for the ride is Dante Leola, her “friend and partner-in-crime,” who’s agreed to accompany her and with whom she shares an easy camaraderie. On a beach one night, Anna meets teacher’s assistant Jude Grayson and feels an instant attraction. The novel follows these three characters as their relationship moves from a conventional love triangle to something more multilayered as the book’s action shifts from Thailand back to New York and over several years. Anna eventually marries Dante, and the pace of her professional life increases dramatically. Overall, her life seems settled—but she can’t seem to make herself forget Jude. That buried ambivalence comes to the surface when Jude suddenly reappears in her new life (“the black clouds of Thailand had followed me home,” Anna muses). Brae has a penchant for the purple prose of standard romance fiction; for instance, Dante’s “thin, pouty lips were in perfect harmony with that sexy five o’clock shadow,” and Jude is described as “Adonis personified—piercing dark eyes outlined with a kaleidoscope of colors swirling with secrets.” The somewhat shallow, melodramatic characterizations of the principal players (Dante the steadfast, Anna the manic, Jude the chaos-agent) are mostly redeemed by Brae’s plot complications after her trio is safely relocated to New York. She convincingly dramatizes Anna’s inner torment over her attraction to Jude, and the book’s Christian elements are integrated smoothly enough into the characters’ natures to avoid snagging the narrative. Overall, this is a relationship novel with a good deal of potboiling energy as well as a good deal of heart.

A multifaceted, pleasingly unpredictable story of shifting passions between three friends.

Pub Date: Jan. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5193-0395-0

Page Count: 356

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2016

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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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