A listless narrative not helped by Steel’s plodding prose, but her legion of fans aren’t in it for the surprise.

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FAMILY TIES

An aunt steps up to mother her orphaned nieces and nephew, in Steel’s predictable latest (A Good Woman, 2008, etc.).

Annie, 26, is on the verge of embarking on an exciting career, and marrying well, when her sister Jane and her husband are killed in a plane crash. With some trepidation, Annie becomes guardian of Jane’s three young children, Liz, Ted and Katie. Annie’s fiancé, not up to the challenge of a ready-made family, bows out. Cut to 16 years later. Annie has never married—she hasn’t had time, thanks to her thriving architecture firm, which caters to New York City’s wealthiest, and the challenges of raising her nieces and nephew. Her efforts have borne fruit: Ted is now in law school, Katie attends Pratt and Liz is a globetrotting jewelry editor for Vogue. After Ted’s Contracts professor, Pattie, a divorcee 12 years his senior, seduces him, he’s sexually in her thrall but knows it’s not love. An ankle sprained at a job site sends Annie to the ER, where (during the interminable wait) she meets high-profile TV-news anchor Tom. After years of bland blind dates, Tom is a refreshing change. The plot duly thickens: Katie drops out of design school to work in a tattoo parlor, and she’s besotted with her new boyfriend Paul, an Iranian/American dual national. Liz’s scruffy French lover Jean-Louis seems to be too friendly with his ex-mistress Françoise, who’s the mother of his child. Pattie stabs Ted’s hand with a steak knife when he tries to leave. Paul and Katie take an ill-advised trip to Tehran, and his relatives confiscate their U.S. passports. Just when Tom and Annie are realizing (after an idyllic stay at a private villa in Turks and Caicos) there is room for each other in their fast-paced lives, it appears that her charges may now need her more than ever.

A listless narrative not helped by Steel’s plodding prose, but her legion of fans aren’t in it for the surprise.

Pub Date: June 22, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-385-34316-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2010

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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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On the day her fiance came out and left her at the altar, Faith escaped to the West Coast, where she’s had a thriving...

THE BEST MAN

When Faith Holland was abandoned at the altar three years ago, she left her hometown for San Francisco to regroup; coming home to Manningsport, she’ll have to confront her past and Levi Cooper, the disturbingly handsome chief of police she blames for ruining her life.

On the day her fiance came out and left her at the altar, Faith escaped to the West Coast, where she’s had a thriving professional life and a comical romantic life. Summoned home for a few months to work the harvest at her family’s winery and help with some crisis management, Faith realizes that some things in her small town will never change—for the good or the bad—but she knows the time has come to establish a new reality with her ex, her family and maybe even Levi Cooper, the best man who forced Jeremy to be honest with her and himself on their wedding day. It’s so much easier to blame and despise him; if she lets down her guard, she might have to deal with their short but profound shared past and her own guilt and secrets from a long-ago tragedy that has haunted her for most of her life. Higgins’ newest heart-tugging romantic comedy juggles a spectrum of emotionally powerful elements, including the death of a mother, the abandonment of a father and a sigh-worthy high school romance gone awry. With her typical engaging voice, compelling storytelling and amusing dialogue, Higgins keeps the audience flipping through pages as quickly as possible, but it is her spot-on ability to make her characters at once funny, authentic and vulnerable—vulnerable to the point of breaking, so they can heal, stronger and better and more able to love—that is her true genius and guarantees most romance fans will both laugh out loud and get teary, sometimes at the same time. Another sweet, touching must-read for Higgins fans and anyone who enjoys a perfect combination of humor and romance.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-373-77792-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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