This first in a series ends with the son of Satan and the promise of a grand battle between good and evil, but this opening...

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FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT

The intended laughs don’t materialize in this supernatural chick-lit whodunit, featuring a back-talkin’ P.I. who sees dead people.

Technically, Charley Davidson is a grim reaper, a term applied to humans (she’s not the only one) who act as a portal for those who need help passing to the other side. To the dead, Charley glows and is an irresistible incentive to leave their worldly attachments. But then there are those with unfinished business, such as the three law partners who were just murdered. Teaming up with her uncle, a detective on the Albuquerque Police force, Charley is remarkably proficient at solving murders—she simply asks the recently departed what happened. But as the three lawyers were shot in the back of the head, they and Charley need real detective work to solve the case. As Charley puts the pieces together (it all hinges on a man wrongly imprisoned for the murder of a teenage boy), she is also wrestling with her own demons—literally. Since her birth, which she vividly remembers, she has been guarded over by an entity she calls Bad. Though he’s responsible for saving her life on countless occasions, Charley is petrified in his presence. This is made all the more confusing by the highly charged sexual encounters she’s been having, first while dreaming and now awake, with a phantom-like presence. She believes her dream-lover to be Reyes Farrow, a young man she once saved, but that he’s in a coma in a penitentiary hospital and that he whispers the name Bad has always used for her, throws everything Charley knows about this dimension and the next into question. Though Jones has created a worthy conceit, her heroine is less than appealing. A little snotty—to both the living and the dead—Charley is an unlikely guide for a series with a foot in the underworld.

This first in a series ends with the son of Satan and the promise of a grand battle between good and evil, but this opening offers little more than a clever premise and a ho-hum murder mystery.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-66275-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 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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