Astute and luminous, like its heroine.

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A SONG FOR THE STARS

A fictionalized version of the romance between a Hawaiian princess and an English naval officer from Cook’s last fateful voyage, one of the first hapa haole (half-white, half-Hawaiian) marriages on record.

Maile, daughter of a Hawaiian high chief, looks forward to her marriage to Ikaika, her father's prime navigator, but after a misunderstanding with Capt. James Cook instigates a skirmish which causes the captain’s and Ikaika’s deaths, Maile becomes the conflicted nurse of English officer John Harbottle. At first considered an enemy, John is able, with help from Maile, to convince her father to let him and his men help them against a threat from a neighboring island. Meanwhile, Maile is assigned to teach John their ancient navigation principles so the Englishmen can get back home since one of the things that caused the skirmish were missing navigation instruments, presumed stolen. John and Maile’s time together leads to mutual respect and tender feelings, though John’s expected departure shadows their growing love. Todd’s (Resist, 2016, etc.) first adult novel is based on her fourth great-grandparents Harbottle and Papapaunauapu (Maile in the novel) and is a delightful amalgamation of fact and fiction as well as a beautifully rendered peek into Hawaiian society before any large Western influence. Through Maile's first-person narrative and John's occasional diary entries, Todd explains ancient Hawaiian customs, beliefs, and wisdom, including actual navigational methods, and creates a clever, multifaceted heroine. A trend in the romance world often has female characters rendered as anachronistically feminist, which isn’t quite the case with Maile, though readers may wonder if a woman in a society as rigid as the one described here could have had the influence she does throughout the book. Still, the story is captivating.

Astute and luminous, like its heroine.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62972-528-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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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

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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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