A highly recommended read that will make readers hope for a sequel.

THE AUCTIONEER

A thriller that moves between Los Angeles luxury and war in the Middle East.

Williams’ (Waking Lazarus, 2016, etc.) novel opens with a rush as antiques auction-house owner and former presidential candidate Michael Hardeman frantically, and ultimately unsuccessfully, struggles to stop his Gulfstream jet from crashing into the Mojave Desert. Simultaneously, federal agents raid Hollywood, California–based Hardeman Auctions, seizing boxes of documents that might reveal a money-laundering scheme as well as other illegalities. Now that 24-year-old Chase Hardeman’s father is dead, he must deal with this investigation into the family business—an operation that pulls in hundreds of millions annually from a wealthy, A-list clientele. Helping Chase to get through these dark days are tech genius and billionaire Randall Collinsworth, whom he calls “Uncle Randy” although they’re not related; Chase’s girlfriend, Laney, who has “gunmetal blue eyes”;his best friend and fellow former soldier, Dax; and his ex-lover Elena Vihkrov, a Russian beauty. Both the crash and the raid have ties to Chase and Dax’s past activities in Mosul, where they purchased stolen antiquities from terrorist leader Abu Haji Fatima—“spoils of war” that eventually ended up at Hardeman Auctions. However, betrayal soon erodes Chase’s support system, and his life becomes as turbulent as his father’s doomed flight. Fatima’s right-hand man, Akram Kasim, and his crew pursue Chase in a nightclub, and although he escapes the venue, a bloodbath soon ensues. Williams delivers an exciting, well-executed thriller. The major characters occupy a grey area between good and bad; even Chase admits that he and his dad were mixed up with the wrong people: “I was no Boy Scout. Sins of a father and son—committed far more often than we ever admitted,” he reveals. The danger is palpable, and women get meaty roles as agents, terrorists, lovers, and combinations of the three. Conversations seem realistic, such as when Elena softly begs Chase to stay the night; after he says that he can’t, Elena smiles coyly and says, “She must be special.” If only Dax would call Chase “bro” slightly less often, the book would be near-perfect.

A highly recommended read that will make readers hope for a sequel.  

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2019

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Forgotten Stories, LLC

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2018

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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