Readers will appreciate the author’s meticulous, steady progression of plot and characters.

READ REVIEW

SEE JOHN PLAY

DiGrazie’s (Von Lagerhaus, 2011) latest mystery introduces golfer John Kaminski, whose journey to the brink of fame and fortune would be considerably easier if he wasn’t also trying to juggle two women and a gambling addiction.

John’s golf career hasn’t quite panned out the way he’d envisioned. His in-laws have already bailed him out once, but he’s in debt again after spending too much time at a low-rent casino with girlfriend Val while wife Connie and daughter Laurie wait at home. Thuggish Sammy suggests a way for John to wipe out his debt completely: play tournaments and throw a percentage of the winnings to Sammy. Joined by his lucky charm, Val, John surprises everyone when he starts winning big. But Connie’s distrust of John is mounting, and things only get more complicated with the introduction of John’s estranged father, the puzzling death of his mother, and a mysterious woman named Brenda, who takes a sudden interest in the champion golfer. DiGrazie’s book initially plays like a romance novel: Connie questions her marriage, believing her husband to be adulterous; her sister even dupes her into a blind date. But once John starts hitting the tours, the book becomes a rousing tale of character interplay: On tour, John and Val are joined by Sammy’s cousin, Mad Tommy, before Connie and Laurie make an unexpected visit. Add to the mix John’s caddie, Frenchy, and an agent and family friend whom Connie insists John hire. Fortunately, each character is fully incorporated into the story. The sequences with John on the golf course read like commentators’ remarks; they may not create any new golf fans, but they’re essential to the plot. Everyone, it seems, cheers on unlikable John, even those who hate him. Yet DiGrazie succeeds in refining him as a character who ultimately recognizes his own flaws. Humor helps: It’s funny to watch a golfer who’s just won almost a million dollars ask someone to pay for his gas.

Readers will appreciate the author’s meticulous, steady progression of plot and characters.

Pub Date: April 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-0984003631

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Wine Flash

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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An indifferent addition to the long-running series about British aristocrats and their romantic and financial concerns.

SOMEONE TO ROMANCE

In a new, baggy Westcott family novel, Lady Jessica Archer demands romance and recognition of her inner self from an American newcomer to Regency London.

A brief encounter at an inn gives Jessica, the sister of the Duke of Netherby, and Gabriel Thorne, a merchant from Boston, an initial dislike of each other. But Gabriel has a secret about his identity, and he believes its eventual revelation requires that he have an aristocratic wife at his side—one he decides will be the patrician Jessica. At 25, Jessica is finally ready to marry. Yet she is unenthusiastic about her choices until two men, including Gabriel, show an interest. Gabriel is a hard character to like, however, because of his deception about who he is, his odd choice to remain in London despite the need to rescue a needy family member in the country—and the troubling implications of the fact that he has made money in shipping in pre–Civil War America. Even when his motivation for staying mum about his true identity is revealed, one struggles to feel sympathetic since he seems to prioritize his own griefs over the wrongs done to a woman. His past suffering and Jessica’s desire for him serve to justify her falling in love, but despite some tender moments, the relationship feels contrived. It’s an anomaly in Balogh’s usually deft unpacking of human weakness and worth, better displayed in Someone To Remember (2019). Similarly, Gabriel’s relatives are two-dimensional, with one being a virtuous disabled person mainly meant to show Gabriel in a positive light. As in many novels in this series, the plot gets bogged down by the backstory and crowded by all the Westcotts who show up insistently. The conclusion turns into something of a comedy of humors and has a deus ex machina twist that resolves matters.

An indifferent addition to the long-running series about British aristocrats and their romantic and financial concerns.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-19861-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A deliciously fresh romance with strong characters and feminist themes.

THE ROOMMATE

A woman from a staid Connecticut society family moves to LA and falls in love with her roommate.

Clara Wheaton grew up in a household beset by scandal, and it turned her into a creature of habit and duty. As a young girl, Clara vowed to live quietly and never cause anxiety for her long-suffering mother. Now she’s 27 with a Ph.D. in art history and no idea what to do with it, so she moves to LA in a last-ditch attempt to win over the friend she’s had a crush on since they were teenagers. But when she arrives in California, her friend reveals he will be touring with his band for the summer, leaving Clara with an unexpected roommate, Josh Darling. Feeling too humiliated to return home, she decides to spend the summer in LA after being offered a temporary job at her aunt’s PR firm. Josh is a porn star, and he firmly corrects Clara’s misconceptions—and those of readers—about the adult entertainment industry. Clara is worried that her association with Josh will cause a scandal, but she loves the freedom of her new life too much to worry. They develop a close friendship but agree to ignore the sizzling attraction between them. Clara is outraged when she discovers that the powerful porn company Josh works for, Black Hat, is trying to blackmail him into a new contract. They decide to strike back at the company by creating a website with unabashedly sex-positive video tutorials that center women’s pleasure. Clara and Josh are likable characters trying to make the world a better place. Danan’s debut is a staunch rejection of societal shame about sex and pleasure—one that will speak to romance readers young and old.

A deliciously fresh romance with strong characters and feminist themes.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-10160-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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