A steamy courtship in which love can hurt so good. Just don’t expect the substance to rival the sex.

READ REVIEW

DANGEROUSLY BAD

A bold Scotsman woos a Creole artist with a bit of BDSM and a whole lot of trust.

Duff Stewart is new to New Orleans by way of Edinburgh, heading up the motorcycle division of his cousin Jamie’s auto shop. While Duff loves vintage bikes, he loves BDSM in the bedroom even more, frequenting the local BDSM club called The Bastille. It’s there that he first sees Layla Chouset, a domme who only plays with women at the club and never takes the role as a submissive. There’s a hidden story there, and Duff is determined to get to the bottom of it, pursuing Layla through dinner dates and a shared interest in art and design; Duff’s focus is on motorcycles, while Layla’s is on sculpture. This is an erotic romance with little external conflict; readers won’t find any jealous ex-lovers or meddling third parties hellbent on tearing the couple apart. Instead, the focal point is on coping with insecurities and learning to accept yourself. Layla has been burned by men before, which is why she insists on taking a dominant role in the bedroom, and her estrangement from her conservative family makes her wary of being judged by those close to her. At times, Layla’s monologues about her self-doubt can become tiresome, but her family’s dysfunction and the hurt she feels about not living up to their standards are easy to relate to. Duff is a pillar of support for Layla as she works through her baggage, and it’s good to see a romance hero take on a more nurturing position. Fans of Bradley's Dangerous series (Dangerously Broken, 2015, etc.) will enjoy the frequent boundary-pushing love scenes, but the heart of the romance isn’t terribly complex.

A steamy courtship in which love can hurt so good. Just don’t expect the substance to rival the sex.

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-425-26998-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Berkley Sensation

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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Another success for the publishing phenom.

UNDER CURRENTS

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 romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

THE DECEPTION

A successful businesswoman hires a smooth-talking bounty hunter to find a lead on her sister’s murder.

Kate Gallagher was the only one available to identify her younger sister Chrissy’s body after she was found dead, having run away from home two years earlier. Since Chrissy succumbed to drugs and turned to sex work to survive, her murder isn't taken seriously by the local homicide department. Kate is filled with grief and regret at not having been there for her sister, and she’s determined to find her killer as a kind of penance. Jason Maddox is the charming man Kate almost hooked up with at a local bar. He also happens to be on the payroll of the most successful investigation company in Dallas. He’s all too eager to help Kate out and spend more time getting to know the blonde he danced with at the Sagebrush Saloon. At first, Kate and Jason vow to keep things professional until the case is solved; there’s obvious attraction that they’re willing to pursue at a later date. But the increasing sense of danger mixed with Kate and Jason’s close proximity proves to be too heady of a combination. The tension never lets up as the pair visit seedy bars and interrogate unsavory characters. With a steamy romance and undeniably hot chemistry, the main characters are well matched. They’re both driven, slightly stubborn, and enjoy the adrenaline rush of catching criminals. Martin (The Conspiracy, 2019, etc.) doesn’t skimp on graphic, violent details as Chrissy’s murder leads her couple to something much bigger: human trafficking. Though not for the faint of heart given its weighty material, this is an un-put-down-able page-turner that’s sure to satisfy fans of romance and thrillers alike.

A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-335-00769-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin HQN

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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