An intriguing, compulsively readable start to an exciting new series.

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MADE OF STEEL

From the Made of Steel series , Vol. 1

A college student’s chance at a new life is complicated by her dangerous past and a mysterious man who tracks her every move.

Eighteen-year-old Summer Brooks nervously awaits the beginning of a new life and identity at Eastern University in New York City. Ten years earlier, she enjoyed an idyllic childhood in Wyoming with her best friend and crush Miles Young. After the deaths of her parents and grandmother, she winds up in the foster care system, eventually ending up in the home of Don Roberts, who brutally attacks her. After agreeing to testify against Don, she enters the witness protection program. Now known as Sadie Davis, she befriends roommate Kinsley and starts dating fellow freshman Eli Hayes. But her past may be catching up with her. She discovers that Miles is her dorm’s resident assistant, although he doesn’t seem to recognize her. Despite assurances she is safe, Summer believes someone is following her. When a series of threats leaves her wondering whom to trust, she discovers an unlikely ally in a vigilante intent on helping victims find justice. The first installment of Smoak’s (James the Christmas Grouch, 2018, etc.) Made of Steel series is a twisty, page-turning thriller that offers equal doses of romance and suspense. Summer Brooks is a compelling hero. A young woman whose childhood was marked by tragedy and abuse, she is determined to rebuild her life and seek justice against her attacker even if it means assuming a new identity. Some of the novel’s strongest moments occur as she explores life as “Sadie Davis,” determined to embrace different experiences and take a chance on romance with Eli Hayes. A subplot about an elusive vigilante is similarly well-developed as Summer investigates his identity for a class project.

An intriguing, compulsively readable start to an exciting new series.

Pub Date: March 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5440-3338-9

Page Count: 312

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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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 romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

THE DECEPTION

A successful businesswoman hires a smooth-talking bounty hunter to find a lead on her sister’s murder.

Kate Gallagher was the only one available to identify her younger sister Chrissy’s body after she was found dead, having run away from home two years earlier. Since Chrissy succumbed to drugs and turned to sex work to survive, her murder isn't taken seriously by the local homicide department. Kate is filled with grief and regret at not having been there for her sister, and she’s determined to find her killer as a kind of penance. Jason Maddox is the charming man Kate almost hooked up with at a local bar. He also happens to be on the payroll of the most successful investigation company in Dallas. He’s all too eager to help Kate out and spend more time getting to know the blonde he danced with at the Sagebrush Saloon. At first, Kate and Jason vow to keep things professional until the case is solved; there’s obvious attraction that they’re willing to pursue at a later date. But the increasing sense of danger mixed with Kate and Jason’s close proximity proves to be too heady of a combination. The tension never lets up as the pair visit seedy bars and interrogate unsavory characters. With a steamy romance and undeniably hot chemistry, the main characters are well matched. They’re both driven, slightly stubborn, and enjoy the adrenaline rush of catching criminals. Martin (The Conspiracy, 2019, etc.) doesn’t skimp on graphic, violent details as Chrissy’s murder leads her couple to something much bigger: human trafficking. Though not for the faint of heart given its weighty material, this is an un-put-down-able page-turner that’s sure to satisfy fans of romance and thrillers alike.

A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-335-00769-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin HQN

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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