A solid historical novel with two headstrong characters.



A Regency-era romance about an orphaned young woman and the handsome nobleman who attempts to find her a husband.    

Anna Colbrook watches a suitor depart from her home after her aging stepgrandfather—Alfred Sinclair, the fifth Earl of Wareton—has rejected the man’s offer to marry her. When Anna confronts the elderly man, he forbids her from marrying until after her younger stepsister, Madeline, does. If Anna attempts to marry sooner, she’ll forfeit the inheritance that her mother bequeathed to her and have no dowry. Unfortunately, Madeline is only 12 years old and Anna’s in her early 20s. After her grandfather dies, Anna remains legally bound by his rules. Thankfully, the new earl doesn’t choose to reside at the estate, and Anna finds happiness living alone with her stepsister and managing their home. When the absentee earl also dies, his successor, the young Adrian Sinclair, a reformed rake, takes up residence in the family home as the seventh Earl of Wareton. He and his family are intent on finding Anna a match, if for no other reason than to be rid of her. As Adrian attempts to find a husband for Anna, he’s surprised by her reluctance to marry. Anna’s true reason for wishing to remain single runs deeper than her uncle’s old decree; as Adrian attempts to discover Anna’s motivations, the pair argues continually. But as they grow better acquainted, they’re surprised by what they discover. Debut novelist Rue’s fast-paced narrative and engaging dialogue will draw readers in from the start. The story, told from Anna’s and Adrian’s alternating perspectives, is chock-full of Jane Austen–esque misunderstandings and misread motivations as well as stolen kisses. As the two characters attempt to secure the happiness of others at their own expense, the author sprinkles in engaging action scenes and appearances by entertaining secondary players, adding richness to the plot. The romance also contains some delightfully swoonworthy moments as well as unexpected twists and turns that add much-needed suspense toward the end.

A solid historical novel with two headstrong characters.

Pub Date: June 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-73239-571-8

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Blue Mermaid Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.


High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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