A unique story of transcendent love.

LAYLA

An aimless young musician meets the girl of his dreams only to have his newfound happiness threatened by several inexplicable—and possibly supernatural—events.

The story opens as Leeds Gabriel meets with a detective while his girlfriend, Layla, is restrained in a room one flight above them. Through the interview, readers learn that Leeds was wasting both his time and his musical talent playing backup for a small-town wedding troupe called Garrett’s Band when he spied Layla dancing her heart out to their mediocre music at a wedding. When Leeds approaches Layla, their connection is both instant and intense. A blissful courtship follows, but then Leeds makes the mistake of posting a picture of himself with Layla on social media. A former girlfriend–turned-stalker wastes no time in finding and attacking Layla. Layla spends months recovering in a hospital, and it seems the girl Leeds fell for might be forever changed. Gone is her special spark, her quirkiness, and the connection that had entranced Leeds months before. In a last-ditch effort to save their relationship, he brings Layla back to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. When they get there, though, Leeds meets Willow, another guest, and finds himself drawn to her in spite of himself. As events unfold, it becomes clear that Willow will either be the key to saving Leeds’ relationship with Layla or the catalyst that finally extinguishes the last shreds of their epic romance. Told entirely from Leeds’ point of view, the author’s first foray into paranormal romance does not disappoint. Peppered with elements of mystery, psychological thriller, and contemporary romance, the novel explores questions about how quickly true love can develop, as well as the conflicts that can imperil even the strongest connections. Despite a limited cast of characters and very few setting changes, the narrative manages to remain both fast-paced and engaging. The conclusion leaves a few too many loose ends, but the chemistry between the characters and unexpected twists throughout make for a satisfying read.

A unique story of transcendent love.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0017-8

Page Count: 301

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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Vintage King: a pleasure for his many fans and not a bad place to start if you’re new to him.

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IF IT BLEEDS

The master of supernatural disaster returns with four horror-laced novellas.

The protagonist of the title story, Holly Gibney, is by King’s own admission one of his most beloved characters, a “quirky walk-on” who quickly found herself at the center of some very unpleasant goings-on in End of Watch, Mr. Mercedes, and The Outsider. The insect-licious proceedings of the last are revisited, most yuckily, while some of King’s favorite conceits turn up: What happens if the dead are never really dead but instead show up generation after generation, occupying different bodies but most certainly exercising their same old mean-spirited voodoo? It won’t please TV journalists to know that the shape-shifting bad guys in that title story just happen to be on-the-ground reporters who turn up at very ugly disasters—and even cause them, albeit many decades apart. Think Jack Torrance in that photo at the end of The Shining, and you’ve got the general idea. “Only a coincidence, Holly thinks, but a chill shivers through her just the same,” King writes, “and once again she thinks of how there may be forces in this world moving people as they will, like men (and women) on a chessboard.” In the careful-what-you-wish-for department, Rat is one of those meta-referential things King enjoys: There are the usual hallucinatory doings, a destiny-altering rodent, and of course a writer protagonist who makes a deal with the devil for success that he thinks will outsmart the fates. No such luck, of course. Perhaps the most troubling story is the first, which may cause iPhone owners to rethink their purchases. King has gone a far piece from the killer clowns and vampires of old, with his monsters and monstrosities taking on far more quotidian forms—which makes them all the scarier.

Vintage King: a pleasure for his many fans and not a bad place to start if you’re new to him.

Pub Date: April 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3797-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A light, low-conflict Georgian romance.

THE SPINSTER AND THE RAKE

In Devon’s historical romance novel, a bold English countrywoman meets a duke with a secret.

It’s 1795, and Edward Stanhope, the Duke of Thornfield, is beset by a house party full of young ladies vying for the unmarried man’s attention. In frustration, he retires to his private library, where he finds yet another woman—Miss Georgiana Bly, regarded by many of her peers as a plain country spinster. He asks her to leave, but she defies him, not realizing that he’s the duke; to force her to go, he threatens to kiss her. However, she calls his bluff, which sets in motion a series of events that ends with them engaged. Georgiana has little experience in posh society, so Edward and his aunt go about training her in the proper ways of being a duchess. At the same time, she takes it upon herself to train the cold and sometimes socially awkward duke to be warmer and more easygoing. The couple quickly find that they share a love of literature, but Edward seems incapable of providing the emotional intimacy that Georgiana craves. Edward finally confesses that he’s always felt that his mind works differently than others’—readers may interpret his description to mean that he has an anxiety disorder or is on the autism spectrum, although this is never specified—and he worries if he’ll inadvertently drive Georgiana away. Then Georgiana’s father becomes embroiled in a scandal that could undo everything. Devon, the author of The Wallflower’s Wild Wedding (2021), effectively drops hints about Edward’s secret from the very first pages. However, he’s far from a rakish character, despite the novel’s title, as he dislikes all but a very small circle of people. Georgiana is an enjoyable heroine who’s well versed in politics and literature and a quick study when it comes to the rules of society, even as she flouts the ones that she thinks are silly. Overall, the novel is rather short on conflict, and the action often pauses at length so that the characters may have long conversations about William Shakespeare or Parliament. Still, the characters are a lively, well-realized group.

A light, low-conflict Georgian romance.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68281-613-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Entangled: Amara

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: yesterday

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