An old-fashioned love story in an unusual historical milieu.

READ REVIEW

SONG OF ISABEL

In this romance, a spirited young woman meets her match in a stalwart soldier during the turbulent times after the death of Charlemagne.

At 12 years old, highborn Isabel narrowly escapes an assault near her home in Narbonne by a band of Frankish soldiers. She’s rescued by a handsome warrior whose name she won’t learn until eight years later, in 825. By then, Chetwynd has been granted a lordship by Charlemagne’s heir, King Louis the Pious. Unfortunately, Chetwynd is no longer in favor in Louis’ court, after a dalliance with Queen Judith that has endangered his career and his friendship with Isabel’s brother, Justin, an influential diplomat. Isabel has not yet married; obsessed by the memory of her rescuer, she’s allowed rumors of her ruin to reach the ears of her suitors. Her grandmother Winifred, knowing that Isabel longs to leave Narbonne and visit Justin in Aachen, convinces her granddaughter that a chaste marriage to Chetwynd is the only way Isabel’s father will grant permission for the journey. But as the couple travel, the temptation to consummate the union grows; when Isabel is kidnapped by bandits, Chetwynd fears that his involvement in court intrigue has made her a target as well. Curtis (My Polio Memoir, 2016) uses some outdated romantic tropes, such as choosing the threat of rape to bring her couple together. But while Chetwynd thinks at first “if Isabel was his wife he would be able to exert some control over her,” he does ultimately grow to value her headstrong independence. Through Chetwynd’s sister, Gilda, a nun, the author provides an intriguing glimpse into the paradoxical freedom some women found in convents, which could be a haven for victims of abuse. But while its names and dates are accurate, the historical novel lacks grounding details. Characters partake in vague “food and drink,” for instance, a missed opportunity to offer specifics that would flesh out the ninth-century setting.

An old-fashioned love story in an unusual historical milieu.

Pub Date: April 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63152-371-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

OUTFOX

An FBI agent is determined to catch a man who bilks and murders wealthy women, but the chase goes slowly.

Brown (Tailspin, 2018, etc.) has published 70 bestsellers, and this one employs her usual template of thriller spiked with romance. Its main character, Drex Easton, is an FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer, but for him it’s personal. When he was a boy, his mother left him and his father for another man, Weston Graham. Drex believes Graham murdered her and that he has killed at least seven more women after emptying their bank accounts. Now he thinks he has the clever Graham—current alias Jasper Ford—in his sights, and he’s willing to put his career at risk to catch him. The women Ford targets are wealthy, and his new prey is no exception—except that, uncharacteristically, he has married her. Talia Ford proves to be a complication for Drex, who instantly falls in lust with her even though he’s not at all sure she isn’t her husband's accomplice. Posing as a would-be novelist, Drex moves into an apartment next door to the Fords’ posh home and tries to ingratiate himself, but tensions rise immediately—Jasper is suspicious, and Talia has mixed feelings about Drex's flirtatious behavior. When Talia’s fun-loving friend Elaine Conner turns up dead after a cruise on her yacht and Jasper disappears, Drex and Talia become allies. There are a few action sequences and fewer sex scenes, but the novel’s pace bogs down repeatedly in long, mundane conversations. Drex's two FBI agent sidekicks are more interesting characters than he is; Drex himself is such a caricature of a macho man, so heedless of ethics, and so aggressive toward women that it’s tough to see him as a good guy. Brown adds a couple of implausible twists at the very end that make him seem almost as untrustworthy as Graham.

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7219-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

more