A modern fairy tale that moves apace but is burdened by uneven writing and characters who continually do things that seem...



A feckless Englishman who’s just inherited wealth and a title finds purpose when he falls for his enigmatic cleaning lady, an Albanian refugee with a vast well of secrets.

Maxim Trevelyan has just lost his beloved older brother, Kit, and inherited his title as Earl of Trevethick. He also discovers his old house cleaner has left and been replaced by Alessia, a beautiful young woman from Albania who has little beyond the clothes on her back yet plays the piano like a superstar. She’s reticent and modest and came to England to escape the brutal man her father wanted her to marry only to fall into the hands of sex traffickers. She’s managed to find a job and shelter with her mother’s friend, but when she’s threatened, it’s clear that Max has suddenly developed a heightened sense of protectiveness. He’s falling in love with her. How could he not? She’s beautiful, talented, and courageous, having survived these horrors. But when one evil man after another tracks her down, Max will use every property and penny at his disposal, even go to the ends of the Earth—or at least across Europe—to save her. James offers her first book outside the staggeringly successful Fifty Shades of Grey (2012) world, and the story can be compelling, in a "Cinderella" meets Perils of Pauline kind of way. We root for Alessia to be saved by the rich, handsome Max, who suddenly cares about all the things he’s intentionally ignored his whole life, yet we also ask ourselves why a woman who escaped sex traffickers at a gas station can’t be smarter when she’s hiding from them in a mansion or when she’s being dragged back to her hometown by the man she fled from in the first place. It’s also worth noting in light of James' earlier books that while sex is an important theme—mainly Alessia’s sexual awakening and the threat of sexual violence—there's only the slightest hint of BDSM, when Max hooks up with a one-night stand early in the book, which highlights Alessia’s innocence.

A modern fairy tale that moves apace but is burdened by uneven writing and characters who continually do things that seem out of character.

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984898-32-6

Page Count: 498

Publisher: Vintage

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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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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