An ambitious tale about a mysterious cruise ploddingly told.

The Belinda Triangle

A debut dystopian thriller explores a future ravaged by war and economic catastrophe.

Doyle Ramsey Beckett is laid off from his job as a history professor and anxious about his monetary prospects given the mountain of student debt he still carries. His wife, Geneva, is a medical doctor, but that doesn’t seem to mean much in a future America saddled with debt, hyperinflation, and chronic unemployment. Geneva reveals to Beckett that she’s pregnant—bittersweet news since they want a child, but this also creates a new layer of fiscal urgency. New legislation stipulates that a child can be seized by the government if the parents dip below a certain threshold of financial viability. Beckett decides to enlist to work on a controversial cruise line run by the government that promises to compensate him with reductions in his debt. But he is misled into believing the cruise he’s signed up for is a weeklong rehearsal for a job; it turns out to be the real deal—an 11-week trip. While onboard, he makes the acquaintance of a woman—Belinda Creighton—who was clearly duped into believing she was entering a rehab program, but the cruise certainly provides nothing of the sort. The entire plot moves slowly toward the revelation regarding the dark purpose of the voyage. Hoffman adroitly paints a bleak picture of a country shattered by internal discord; something akin to a civil war tears the nation apart in the year 2029. The result is a combination of martial law, Orwellian governmental control, and dire financial straits. The author doesn’t provide many specific details about the nature of the political tumult’s causes, but that only heightens the atmospheric ominousness. There are other subplots as well: a militia violently attacks Geneva’s housing complex, and a couple on the cruise grapple with terminal illness. But these are digressive distractions. Hoffman’s narrative ingenuity is impressive, and he exercises notable restraint in dispensing information to the reader. But a thriller should simply be more thrilling, and the cloud of mystery that hangs over the mission of the cruise remains more frustrating than suspenseful.

An ambitious tale about a mysterious cruise ploddingly told.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 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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