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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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

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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