Fatuous to a fault, sure to sell in the millions.

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SUNSET IN ST. TROPEZ

A life-changing vacation on the French Riviera.

As they have for decades, three couples gather on New Year’s Eve in New York for a private celebration: Anne and Robert Smith, Pascal and John Donnally, Diana and Eric Morrison. All are well-groomed and well-behaved, happy in decades-old traditional marriages. No indecorous striving for these wives: they work for charity, or on behalf of battered women. Pascal is French, an ex-ballerina who still longs for the child she will never have (brusque businessman husband John has always refused to consider adoption). Diane is the perfect doctor’s wife, and handsome ob/gyn Eric is the perfect doctor (though she doesn’t know he’s having an affair). The group plans to rent a villa in St. Tropez for a sun-kissed holiday—until Anne has a heart attack and dies. (The arrangements are made by a “prestigious funeral parlor that had taken care of New Yorkers for years, even some as illustrious as Judy Garland.”) Robert is grief-stricken, adrift on the empty sea of life, until he starts keeping company with a 30-year-old movie star, glamorous Gwen. Aghast, the other women make plans to save him from her youthful clutches by spiriting him away to the south of France. Alas, the villa is barely habitable and the comically pudgy live-in maid wears short-shorts and stiletto heels—and just will not dust. What to do? They might even have to rent a yacht. Then Gwen shows up and makes friends with one and all. She isn’t movie-starish in the least! She even blames herself for her philandering husband’s suicide. She also saves John, who likes to smoke cigars and chomp blood sausage at the same time, from choking (detailed description of the Heimlich maneuver is provided). To her utter delight, Pascal becomes pregnant. Eric gives up his ladylove and once more vows to be faithful to darling Diana.

Fatuous to a fault, sure to sell in the millions.

Pub Date: July 2, 2002

ISBN: 0-385-33546-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2002

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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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