A provocative fusion of suspense and sci-fi; as the mystery unravels, the reader learns that dreams may be as vital as...

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IN BETWEEN DREAMS

In Rooks’ psychological thriller, a Seattle journalist struggling with apparent narcolepsy and vivid dreams realizes there may be more to her subconscious than she knows.

Bailey lives in two worlds: her “real” life as a busy reporter for an urban newspaper, fighting deadlines for her intense yet charismatic editor, Sierra, and her “dream” life as a victim-rescuing heroine. Bailey struggles with an enigmatic sleep disorder. When she falls asleep, she imagines herself in a hotel room in Hong Kong with a benevolent task force of secret agents: Daniel, a bad-boy Australian; Sam, a fashionable translator; and Halene, a young Southern logician. The team is deeply flawed, and in their effort to save a girl named Mei from her Mafia family, Bailey tries to deny the affections of both Daniel and Sam, who constantly vie for her attention. The drawn-out arguments and soapy romance become tedious, but Rooks’ central question intrigues: If you divide your time equally between a delirious reality and a crystal-clear dream life, don’t they become equally authentic? Bailey starts to see parallels in each existence. For example, she hears the same reference to a Chinese don; she indulges in two similar drinking binges; and her best friend, Jason, starts referring to Daniel and Sam as credible love interests, even though he assumes they are imaginary. The final twist requires a lot of exposition, but it adds a metaphysical layer to an already clever storyline. Rooks organizes her story well, ensuring that the reader is never confused, and she describes details and emotions that such thrillers often gloss over. In the end, Bailey is passive and naïve but also intelligent and strong, and she bears a bigger burden than she realizes. While she doesn’t do much in the novel—she’s wounded by a shooter, pursued by men and told difficult secrets—Bailey has been primed for an inevitable sequel.

A provocative fusion of suspense and sci-fi; as the mystery unravels, the reader learns that dreams may be as vital as reality.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1500627126

Page Count: 260

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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An indifferent addition to the long-running series about British aristocrats and their romantic and financial concerns.

SOMEONE TO ROMANCE

In a new, baggy Westcott family novel, Lady Jessica Archer demands romance and recognition of her inner self from an American newcomer to Regency London.

A brief encounter at an inn gives Jessica, the sister of the Duke of Netherby, and Gabriel Thorne, a merchant from Boston, an initial dislike of each other. But Gabriel has a secret about his identity, and he believes its eventual revelation requires that he have an aristocratic wife at his side—one he decides will be the patrician Jessica. At 25, Jessica is finally ready to marry. Yet she is unenthusiastic about her choices until two men, including Gabriel, show an interest. Gabriel is a hard character to like, however, because of his deception about who he is, his odd choice to remain in London despite the need to rescue a needy family member in the country—and the troubling implications of the fact that he has made money in shipping in pre–Civil War America. Even when his motivation for staying mum about his true identity is revealed, one struggles to feel sympathetic since he seems to prioritize his own griefs over the wrongs done to a woman. His past suffering and Jessica’s desire for him serve to justify her falling in love, but despite some tender moments, the relationship feels contrived. It’s an anomaly in Balogh’s usually deft unpacking of human weakness and worth, better displayed in Someone To Remember (2019). Similarly, Gabriel’s relatives are two-dimensional, with one being a virtuous disabled person mainly meant to show Gabriel in a positive light. As in many novels in this series, the plot gets bogged down by the backstory and crowded by all the Westcotts who show up insistently. The conclusion turns into something of a comedy of humors and has a deus ex machina twist that resolves matters.

An indifferent addition to the long-running series about British aristocrats and their romantic and financial concerns.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-19861-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A quick, fun enemies-to-lovers tale that’s equal parts hilarious and sexy.

THE WEDDING DATE DISASTER

An ambitious country transplant gets saddled with an infuriating plus-one in this romance.

Hadley Donavan moved to Harbor City with big dreams—namely, taking nonprofit organizations to the next level as a charitable giving consultant. Sadly, things aren’t going to plan. She’s broke, shares a tiny apartment with a roommate, and is fired from her job thanks to an unexpected kiss at a work event with Will Holt, an old-money CEO and the “evil” twin brother of Hadley’s best friend, Web. Now Hadley’s heading home to Nebraska for her sister’s wedding and a week of festivities with her tightknit, blended family, with Web as her platonic date. But thanks to a last-minute bout of food poisoning, it’s Will—who’s fighting his lust for Hadley while questioning her intentions with his open-hearted brother—who shows up at the airport to escort her to the wedding. As they fake a relationship for her relatives, the city boy’s and country girl’s clashing personalities soon result in an unforgettable sexual encounter. While Will wins over her protective but loving relatives through quirky game nights and a surprise dance at a retirement home, Hadley must reconcile her growing feelings for him with the secret she’s keeping from her family: that her supposedly glamorous urban life is actually full of uncertainty. Though Will uses the term “gold digger” one too many times in describing Hadley’s possible motivations, Flynn’s writing is sharp and sweet, with two finely drawn main characters with relatable obstacles and hang-ups. Hadley wants to find success in Harbor City while making a difference, and Will—an orphan with a privileged but lonely upbringing—is fiercely protective of his twin brother. Hadley’s extended family is a pure joy to read about, especially her nurturing rancher stepfather, Gabe Martinez, and PawPaw, her spunky grandfather who proudly juggles three girlfriends. PawPaw quickly figures out Hadley and Will’s relationship lie and their growing affection for each other. Intimate scenes strike the perfect balance of sensual and emotional.

A quick, fun enemies-to-lovers tale that’s equal parts hilarious and sexy.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64063-912-6

Page Count: 330

Publisher: Entangled: Amara

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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