A deft examination of hefty existential questions, hampered by a lightweight plot and characters.




A heartbroken journalist explores the dark complexities of love, loss and memory in Chabot’s debut romance.

When Derry Danaher and Amedee Beauchene meet in the offices of the Milwaukee Ledger in 1971, it’s love at first sight. The story initially seems to be a straightforward account of their quirky romance; halfway through, however, a sudden twist changes the course of their lives, and the book transforms into a deeper meditation on the ways that love, honor and mortality clash with the day-to-day business of living. Derry embarks on an intensely romantic, if ethically hazy, quest to make his love for Amedee mean something to the world at large, and Chabot’s nuanced portrayal of these efforts is the book’s greatest strength. The plot itself, however, somewhat meanders—particularly in the idyllic first half, in which the characters face no conflicts. The novel also often relies on long expository sections, rather than letting characters and events speak for themselves. During one of Derry and Amedee’s first dates, for example, Chabot writes that “both were finding it surprisingly easy to bare innermost secrets they seldom disclosed,” without demonstrating why or how they came to feel that way. As a result, the romance, so central to the plot, progresses rapidly but remains opaque to readers. The book describes many secondary characters and key events at a remove, only providing superficial facts and backstory. The characters often end up seeming more like caricatures than actual people after multiple pages of description with little action or dialogue, and many events lack emotional immediacy. That said, the descriptions do allow for some witty asides, and Chabot’s grasp of historical detail helps make the environments feel vivid, genuine and immersive. Ultimately, the book seems almost like a parable, focused more on ideas and philosophy than on narrative tension or character development; for readers willing to accept that, Derry’s journey may serve as a thought-provoking exploration of profoundly human dilemmas.

A deft examination of hefty existential questions, hampered by a lightweight plot and characters. 

Pub Date: June 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-1477435366

Page Count: 306

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2013

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Another success for the publishing phenom.


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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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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