Lord successfully adapts classic elements of adult romance novels into a love story gentle enough for younger readers.

OPEN ROAD SUMMER

Reagan joins her best friend Delilah’s summer concert tour to escape some poor decisions and break some bad habits, finding romance and complication instead.

When Reagan finds herself attracted to soulful musician Matt, romance seems inevitable—but the record company has hired him to pose as Delilah’s wholesome boyfriend. Reagan and Matt are both good-hearted characters suffering from emotional wounds. A victim of dating violence (described dramatically but not graphically in flashback), Reagan finds curbing her reckless impulses surprisingly difficult. Matt is reeling from his mother’s death and struggling to define himself as a person and artist after the demise of his famous band. Luckily, both have the classic supportive friend in Delilah, who shores them up emotionally and encourages their romance—even as she struggles with the pressures of her increasing fame. These characters are predictable, and the happily-ever-after ending is really never in doubt, but romance fans will undoubtedly still enjoy the developing relationships. Lord also deserves credit for plausibly explaining the lack of adult supervision: Their chaperone, Delilah’s 26-year-old aunt, is distracted by her involvement with a new tour boyfriend. Even without adult supervision, Reagan and Matt’s physical relationship is passionate but, refreshingly, restrained.

Lord successfully adapts classic elements of adult romance novels into a love story gentle enough for younger readers. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: April 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8027-3610-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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An engaging, fast-paced story let down by character development.

I KISSED SHARA WHEELER

A romance with solid queer representation set against the backdrop of an Alabama Christian school.

Chloe Green is the only one who sees through Shara Wheeler’s goody-two-shoes act, and now that Shara’s pulled a disappearing act right before being crowned prom queen, she makes it her business to find her. This means teaming up with unlikely allies like Smith Parker, Shara’s jock boyfriend, and Rory Heron, the brooding boy next door, both in love with Shara, just as Chloe claims she is not. What brings the trio together is a series of notes Shara has left them, along with the awkward fact that she kissed all three of them before vanishing. McQuiston’s YA debut starts off as a fun page-turner with a rich cast of queer characters but ultimately disappoints with its predictable plot twists and protagonists whose journeys feel lackluster. In a story that uplifts the importance of friendship and found family, the main character’s tunnel vision and indifference toward her friends’ problems make for an ending that doesn’t feel earned. Rather than coming across as a complicated but earnest love interest, Shara feels superficial and narcissistic, raising the question of why so many people drop everything to pursue her. Shara and Chloe are White; Rory has a White mom and Black dad, and Smith is described as having dark brown skin. Bisexual Chloe has two moms.

An engaging, fast-paced story let down by character development. (author’s note) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-24445-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

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THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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