THE LONG ROAD HOME

Steel (The Ranch, 1997, etc.) actually manages to minimize child abuse in this saccharine take on tragedy. Poor little Gabbie is not only a victim. She is the Victim's Victim. Her wealthy mother Eloise feels jealous of her: She abuses Gabbie almost daily for the first decade of her life. She starves her, smashes her dolls, and breaks her ribs every Christmas. She bruises her kidneys and cuts up her face. But Gabbie's emotional wounds are even worse, for Eloise has persuaded her that everything wrong with the family is her fault. Meanwhile, Gabbie's father is a prodigious weakling who drinks to forget his terrible home life, eventually deserting both daughter and wife. In what is probably an act of mercy, Gabbie's mother runs off with another man and abandons the girl at a Manhattan convent. To protect herself from a malevolent world, Gabbie decides to become a nun. But the world has other plans for this girl whose tribulations make those of Job look like chopped liver. She falls in love with a priest and becomes pregnant (after all, what do priests know about condoms?). The priest then commits suicide; after a painful miscarriage, Gabbie almost dies. To top it off, the church forces her out of the convent with only $500 and two badly tailored dresses to her name. She's seduced by a con man, then robbed and beaten within an inch of her life. At this point, Gabbie decides to be a victim no longer. She tries to find her mother, visits her father, and conveniently meets a nice young doctor. After her bruises heal, the physician (unsurprisingly) falls in love with her. Steel goes to battle with yet another worthy cause, but her good intentions this time fizzle in a sea of Åber-melodrama.

Pub Date: May 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-31956-8

Page Count: 408

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1998

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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 romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

THE DECEPTION

A successful businesswoman hires a smooth-talking bounty hunter to find a lead on her sister’s murder.

Kate Gallagher was the only one available to identify her younger sister Chrissy’s body after she was found dead, having run away from home two years earlier. Since Chrissy succumbed to drugs and turned to sex work to survive, her murder isn't taken seriously by the local homicide department. Kate is filled with grief and regret at not having been there for her sister, and she’s determined to find her killer as a kind of penance. Jason Maddox is the charming man Kate almost hooked up with at a local bar. He also happens to be on the payroll of the most successful investigation company in Dallas. He’s all too eager to help Kate out and spend more time getting to know the blonde he danced with at the Sagebrush Saloon. At first, Kate and Jason vow to keep things professional until the case is solved; there’s obvious attraction that they’re willing to pursue at a later date. But the increasing sense of danger mixed with Kate and Jason’s close proximity proves to be too heady of a combination. The tension never lets up as the pair visit seedy bars and interrogate unsavory characters. With a steamy romance and undeniably hot chemistry, the main characters are well matched. They’re both driven, slightly stubborn, and enjoy the adrenaline rush of catching criminals. Martin (The Conspiracy, 2019, etc.) doesn’t skimp on graphic, violent details as Chrissy’s murder leads her couple to something much bigger: human trafficking. Though not for the faint of heart given its weighty material, this is an un-put-down-able page-turner that’s sure to satisfy fans of romance and thrillers alike.

A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-335-00769-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin HQN

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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