A classic wacky rom-com and an ideal summer read.

LOVE AT FIRST LIKE

An Instagram mishap leads to a fake engagement announcement for a struggling jeweler…and when sales spike, she decides to play along.

Eliza Roth spent her childhood dreaming of owning a store, and with her sister, Sophie, she's able to make her dream come alive in the form of Brooklyn Jewels. When Eliza finds out via Instagram that her no-good ex is engaged, she indulges in one of her favorite ways to take out her frustration—creating fake engagement announcements for herself, using the beautiful rings she sells in the store, complete with cheesy, gag-inducing captions. But when Eliza wakes up to a flurry of Instagram activity, she realizes that she accidentally posted her fake announcement, including an eye-roll–worthy caption: “They say when you know, you know…and I know I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” Eliza and Sophie are both mortified, but the two of them quickly see that all this online attention is bringing in major sales. And with an upcoming rent hike that means they might not be able to stay in their current building, plus Sophie and her wife’s expensive fertility treatments, they need the money. When a wedding venue reaches out to offer their facility to Eliza free of charge, she pounces on it. All the publicity from a highly Instagrammable wedding will surely bring in the money they need. The only problem? There’s no groom. She sets off to find a fake fiance in a bar and ends up stumbling upon Blake, a fellow jeweler who seems picture perfect. When they start dating, Eliza doesn’t tell him about her plan…and as they grow closer, she thinks it’s too late to come clean. But when Eliza starts to develop a real connection to her bartender friend, Raj, things get a lot more complicated. While some aspects of the story strain credulity (Blake frequently says he isn’t on Instagram, but it seems unlikely that he or one of his friends wouldn’t encounter some of the online press about Eliza’s “engagement”), the story is so fun and fast paced that it hardly matters. Orenstein’s (Playing With Matches, 2018) writing is quick, witty, and compulsively readable even when Eliza’s desperate actions evoke cringes. Although the story is over the top, the feelings are real, and readers will be able to relate to Eliza’s struggle to find her soul mate in the age of apps and social media.

A classic wacky rom-com and an ideal summer read.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9821-1779-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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A promising start to a series, provided Roberts can flesh out her derivative heroine.

THE WITNESS

A young woman in hiding from the Russian mob faces a difficult decision when she falls in love with a cop.

Abigail, 28, lives alone in the bucolic hamlet of Bickford, Ark., in an isolated house, fortified with firearms, a state-of-the-art alarm system and a vicious dog named Bert. When the town’s genial police chief, Brooks, suspects Abigail is packing while shopping for gourmet groceries, his curiosity soon morphs into courtship. Although she finds herself drawn to Brooks and to his welcoming, bohemian family, Abigail dares not reveal that her real name is Liz—which is not the only way in which she appears to be Roberts’ answer to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Gifted with an eidetic memory, an IQ over 200 and an affinity for cool, calculated mayhem, Liz/Abigail is a skilled hacker and a highly paid security consultant. In her spare time she investigates the Russian mob and the crooked federal agents who are responsible for her current predicament; whenever possible, she throws virtual monkey wrenches into the mob’s Internet scams. When she witnesses an altercation between Brooks and the wastrel son of a local magnate, she’s thrust back into the horror of the last time she witnessed a crime. At 16, rebelling against an unloving, controlling mother, Liz and a girlfriend, Julie, visited a Chicago nightclub run by the Russian Mafia, where Ilya, son of gang kingpin Sergei, and Alexi, a cousin, seduced them with Cosmos. Later, at Alexi’s lakeside home, Liz was an unseen witness to a hit on Alexi by Sergei’s enforcers, who also killed Julie. Managing to escape, Liz was forced to run again when two dirty FBI agents destroyed her safe house and murdered her guards. A person of interest to both the Feds and the mob, she’s been on the lam for 12 years. Before they can marry, Brooks must help Liz come in from the cold.

A promising start to a series, provided Roberts can flesh out her derivative heroine.

Pub Date: April 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-15912-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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