An involving fictional evocation of the superstar culture of modern football.

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THE BACK OF THE NET

A NOVEL OF INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALL, FASHION AND THE TEST OF FRIENDSHIP

A novel of relationships suffused with the world of soccer.

Caraccio’s (Tiburcio!, 2014) vivid, fast-paced novel begins with the story of young Lorenzo Cordinni, a natural-born fantasisti (“a highly skilled player,” the book’s footnotes helpfully supply, “a playmaker”) whose future lies before him “like a wide open net on a breakaway with only the goalkeeper to beat.” Lorenzo is noticed by Italy’s big football league officials, who snap him up and transform him into an international star, the consummate professional sports celebrity. “On the field, Lorenzo was always in control,” we’re told. “He could work his way out of every uncomfortable situation, extricate himself from any predicament.” But when Lorenzo’s team falls short at the World Cup, their return to Italy is accompanied by jeers and hisses, and even Lorenzo’s old father starts to believe, bitterly, that his son has disappointed the hopes of the whole country. Lorenzo is injured; he punches a patron at a trattoria and spends a few days in jail; he’s repeatedly fined by the league. By the time he meets young college student Marco Baccari at a youth soccer camp in California (where Lorenzo is part of the guest faculty of visiting celebrities), he’s a man badly in need of personal renewal. For his part, Marco is in need of the boost Lorenzo’s patronage might give him. From these two characters and the women in their lives, Caraccio fashions a rich and intensely atmospheric novel of football—its culture, its thousand details, the cost it exacts on families and personal relationships. The book’s main strength in doing this is its avoidance of sentimentality; these characters whose lives revolve around the game recognize its tawdry realities with complete clarity—a process shown to best advantage in the character of Lorenzo, whose growth from starry-eyed phenom to weathered veteran makes for the book’s most compelling reading.

An involving fictional evocation of the superstar culture of modern football.

Pub Date: March 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5303-7382-6

Page Count: 462

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2017

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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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