Fine for diehard romance fans.

THE LIFEGUARD

A girl spends the summer at her aunt’s beach house and falls for a fascinating, handsome lifeguard with supernatural healing powers.

Sirena can’t help but be drawn to the seemingly magical lifeguard, who turns out actually to be named “Pilot.” She also finds Antonio, an 80-year old-beach artist, quite magnetic. Sirena’s obsession gets out of control when she steals Antonio’s painting of Pilot, then confesses to the old man. She’s jealous when she sees Pilot with a blond bombshell of a girl she assumes is his girlfriend. She dips a toe into the ocean during a time of dangerous riptides and nearly drowns, also getting stung by a stingray. When doctors want to amputate her leg, Pilot heals it. Antonio dies and leaves Sirena his magic paintbrush and, apparently, his painting talent. And aha! Perhaps the blond isn’t a girlfriend after all! Blumenthal writes suspenseful episodes, but she tends to abandon them and move on to the next one, which adds up to a narrative that doesn’t flow well. For example, readers see Sirena, just after Antonio’s death, painting with newfound, zealous ability until the wee hours, but there is no description of the resulting painting. Throw in clichéd phrases such as “Would I ever feel I’d taken in enough of his face? His being? His touch?” for an undemanding beach read.

Fine for diehard romance fans. (Paranormal romance. 12 & up)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8075-4535-5

Page Count: 268

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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A disappointing delivery on a potentially gripping second volume.

THE BALLAD OF NEVER AFTER

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 2

Evangeline faces new dangers in her quest for happiness in this follow-up to 2021’s Once Upon a Broken Heart.

As Evangeline Fox seeks a cure for her poisoned husband, Prince Apollo, the enticing and infuriating Fate Jacks reappears, offering to save Apollo if she unlocks the Valory Arch. Remembering the long list of ills brought upon her by the Fate, Evangeline refuses. When the new heir arrives and Apollo wakes with a new curse and glowing red eyes, she is forced to delve into the mysteries of the Valors and find the arch’s four missing magical stones whose powers are luck, truth, mirth, and youth. The inclusion of expanded Valor lore alongside the preexisting blend of fairy-tale and paranormal creatures is intriguing and fits the overarching theme of storytelling as history. The ongoing use of emotions as a scale for displaying and determining one’s humanity, especially by Fates, is equally interesting. Unfortunately, the impact of Evangeline’s often amusing narration and numerous surprising plot twists is diluted by the meandering pacing, convoluted sensory descriptions, and close focus on Evangeline’s fluctuating attraction toward her potential love interests. Despite the positive emphasis on hope and happily-ever-afters, Evangeline’s romantic relationship with Jacks borders on manipulative and toxic. Evangeline reads White; side characters are fantasy diverse.

A disappointing delivery on a potentially gripping second volume. (map) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-26842-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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Han’s impressive ear for and pitch-perfect reproduction of the interactions between not-quite-adult older teens make this an...

WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE SUMMER

Can teenage love ever be forever?

Isabel (Belly) from The Summer I Turned Pretty (2009) and It’s Not Summer Without You (2010) finishes up her freshman year at college somewhat unconvincingly committed to Jeremiah Fisher, one of the two brothers with whom she has spent summers since she was small. Isabel becomes furious to learn that Jeremiah had sex with another girl from their college in Cabo on spring break, but he wins back her affections with a grand gesture: a proposal of marriage. Caught up in the idea—she will plan a summer wedding! they will attend college as a married couple!—Isabel tries ignores her misgivings about Jeremiah, the appalled silence of her mother and her own still-strong feelings for Jeremiah’s older brother, Conrad. It’s both funny and believable when Jeremiah insists he wants to dance the wedding dance to “You Never Can Tell” from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. Han gives a satisfying nod to wedding-planning fantasies even while revealing their flimsy basis for an actual marriage. A final chapter in 23-year-old Isabel’s voice reveals the not-so-surprising happy ending.

Han’s impressive ear for and pitch-perfect reproduction of the interactions between not-quite-adult older teens make this an appealing conclusion to this trilogy romance among bright middle-class young people. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: May 3, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-9558-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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