The predictable romance decreases the suspense in this low-wattage thriller.

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DEATH ECHO

An international espionage crisis mixes with lighthearted romance on the high seas. 

Former CIA operative Emma Cross works for St. Kilda’s Consulting, a private-investigating company run by Joe Faroe and his wife Grace, both familiar to Lowell fans from The Wrong Hostage (2006) and now proud parents of a baby who distracts them during every phone call and meeting. St. Kilda’s has been looking for stolen yachts but the stakes skyrocket with word that a boat named the Blackbird is arriving at a small port on Elliott Bay near Seattle loaded with ammunition—whether biological, chemical or fissionable—to destroy a large American city within the next seven days. St. Kilda’s is enlisted to help stop the perpetrators of the urban devastation before it happens. When the boat arrives, Emma keeps an eye on Mac Durand, who was hired to captain the Blackbird as far as Elliott Bay by a local shady transporting company with links to a Russian breakaway state. Mac used to be a member of Special Ops until a CIA screw-up caused the death of most of his unit; like everyone else in this book, he now distrusts government. Then his oldest friend, who was scheduled to sail the Blackbird north to Canada, dies under mysterious circumstances, and Mac agrees to work for St. Kilda’s. Posing as lovers, hunky Mac and gorgeous Emma sail the Blackbird together into Canadian waters hoping to flush out the Eastern European politico-criminal elements behind the plot. Lowell’s short chapters, each headed with date, time and location, bring to mind TV’s 24, but despite the looming seven day deadline, there’s little real sense of urgency. Though refreshingly cynical, the complicated political machinations remain underdeveloped. Lowell’s main focus, beside an appreciation for high-end boating, is the sexual heat building between Mac and Emma, who banter on unperturbed that time is running out before Seattle blows.  

The predictable romance decreases the suspense in this low-wattage thriller.

Pub Date: June 8, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-162975-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2010

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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 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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