A sexy and irresistible tale for fans of contemporary romance.

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LOVE OVER LATTES

From the Desert Monsoon series

Visits to a coffee shop lead to an unexpected romantic connection for two lonely strangers in this debut novel.

Driven and goal-oriented, single mother Valentina de Cordoba has big plans. As a college freshman, she became pregnant after a volatile relationship with the wrong man. Determined to provide a stable home for her son, Max, she finished college and accepted a job with a technology firm. That does not stop her from fantasizing about the handsome stranger who frequents her favorite coffee shop. Derek Cole is a businessman whose life is falling apart. He is in the middle of a contentious divorce, and his wife is demanding his company as part of the settlement. Cole notices Valentina at the coffee shop and looks forward to seeing her. When her deal on a rental home falls through, Cole impulsively offers to lease her a cottage on his property. A cautious Valentina accepts on the condition that their relationship will remain strictly business. For Cole, Valentina is a glimmer of hope, and he is determined to win her. They fall in love, but their relationship is tested when Cole faces a betrayal that threatens to destroy the company he worked so hard to build. Hicks’ first installment of her Desert Monsoon series is confident and assured, with strong storytelling, nuanced characters, and a dynamic blend of romance and suspense. The narrative is fast-paced, with the chapters alternating between the viewpoints of Valentina and Cole. This technique allows the author to explore their feelings and motivations and offer deeper insights into the story’s major events. Valentina and Cole are appealing protagonists whose rapport is bolstered by scenes that generate a nice erotic heat. The supporting characters are equally well-developed, including Nikki, a flirtatious event planner with questionable motivations, and Dom, Cole’s best friend and attorney. While the romance between Cole and Valentina takes center stage, his divorce battle with his estranged wife, Bridget, and his fight to retain control of his company provide suspense and surprise plot twists.

A sexy and irresistible tale for fans of contemporary romance.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5092-1944-5

Page Count: 322

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

THE RESCUE

High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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