Some tenacious police work, but the characterizations remain stale.


The Secondary Target

As a divorce attorney recovers from a brutal attack, an investigation reveals further complications in this romantic mystery/thriller.

Beth Scott, 31, is an up-and-coming divorce attorney in a prestigious New York City law firm. A Yale graduate who loves shopping and fashion, she works long hours to afford her brand-name lifestyle. Although she hasn’t got much time for relationships (she’s on a break with Michael Hudson, a fellow attorney who adores her), everything is going right—until she is stabbed and beaten in her own apartment. She wakes with no memory of the incident at first, but gains a new friend in her handsome doctor, Brandon Burton; after her release from the hospital, he drops by to give her personal checkups. The detectives investigating her attack follow several avenues, such as angry husbands of Beth’s divorce clients, or perhaps Victoria David, Beth’s friend who arrived awfully soon after the attack. Michael takes such loving care of Beth as she recovers that she reconsiders their break, and the romance rekindles: “There was no way she could let this amazing, empathetic man slip through her fingers.” Meanwhile, detectives uncover clues suggesting that Beth’s attack was a warning—a suspicion that’s confirmed by a mob hit on someone close to her that upends her newly won equilibrium. As the probe continues, Beth’s romantic life takes another turn, but there is still a shocking revelation to come. In her debut novel, Lynn draws on her experience as an emergency room and surgical nurse for descriptions of Beth’s treatment and recovery, which ring true. She also handles the mystery itself fairly well, with realistically dogged police work and mostly plausible red herrings. But Lynn’s characterizations make a simple-minded equivalence between appearance and worth: for example, Burton’s “compassion and concern” seem directly related to his being “strikingly handsome.” Victoria is suspected of romantic, possibly lesbian desperation because she’s “overweight, her hair unstyled,” and her features plain. Lynn also bogs down the book’s pace with much unnecessary detail, such as every word of minor phone conversations.

Some tenacious police work, but the characterizations remain stale.

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9970595-0-2

Page Count: 330

Publisher: Canta Bello Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2016

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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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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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Another success for the publishing phenom.


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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