A tiresome, vexing shadow of the Fifty Shades phenomenon.

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A MILLION DIRTY SECRETS

To save her mother’s life, a beautiful virgin sells herself to a wealthy millionaire at an auction.

When her mother is dying, Delaine Talbot swears she’ll do anything to raise the money the family needs for care and surgery. The opportunity arises when she learns of an erotic club in Chicago that auctions women off to wealthy bidders. Delaine is pretty enough, but she’s also a virgin—a highly desired commodity in that market. So she puts herself on the block to make the necessary cash to save her mother. How fortunate she is that on this particular night, the most eligible bachelor in Chicago is present and decides to take pity on her when she tosses a begging look toward his darkened bidding room; his winning bid keeps her out of the clutches of a veritable Jabba the Hutt. Noah is rich and gorgeous, and while he tells himself and her that he will treat her like a plaything, he never really does. He takes her to his palatial home, where she proceeds to veer back and forth between acting like a shrew by treating him like a villain and falling rapturously into bed with him. While Delaine’s decision to sell herself is well-motivated, it’s about the only thing that really is for the rest of the book. Apparently, Noah is supposed to be a wounded alpha hero masking a heart of gold, but he generally comes across as a wimpy, dark-hero wannabe who won’t stand up to the harpy he paid a fortune for. Despite selling herself to a man who now essentially owns her, under contract, Delaine basically behaves like a spoiled 12-year-old in her first relationship, punishing him for having had the audacity to buy her. The plot is linear and simplistic, and the characters do unpleasant and annoying things for no particular reason. Even the sex, which should be erotic, becomes mind-numbing when there seems to be no real character development behind it. 

A tiresome, vexing shadow of the Fifty Shades phenomenon.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-345-54876-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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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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