AMERICAN STAR

Collins (Lady Boss, etc.) returns to Hollywood (and New York and Kansas) in this perfunctory 20-year romantic saga between a small-town princess and a poor, rakish Italian-American stud- -nothing new from this author, but then who among her readers cares? Nick Angelo (think black hair, blue eyes, tight pants, dimpled chin) may have grown up on the wrong side of the tracks, but he's always been lucky when it comes to females—as demure Lauren Roberts discovers when Nick moves to Bosewell, Kansas, in the wake of his mother's death. Entering high school with plans to keep his head down and land the first girl willing to keep him warm, Nick is instead inexplicably smitten by prim, comely Lauren—who's unhappily engaged to the richest boy in town. A hot romance soon flares up, causing Lauren's outraged parents to lock her in her room and her would-be in-laws to see that Nick is expelled from school. Vowing to get rich quick and come back for Lauren, Nick takes off for Chicago, but a Kansas tornado, an unwanted pregnancy, and hard times in Chicago separate the couple until each is convinced that the other has given up on the affair. A decade later the two meet again in New York just as Nick Angelo (now Nick Angel, a film actor) is on the brink of success and Lauren, a New York businesswoman, is about to become an extremely well-paid model. This time Lauren's engagement to a wealthy older man and Nick's entanglement in a blackmail scheme stand in the star-crossed lovers' way, and it is many more years, romantic traumas, multimillion-dollar business deals, Beverly Hills parties, and Manhattan penthouse dinners before busy, thirtysomething Nick and Lauren find the time to fall into each other's arms once and for all. Standard fare told in plodding, unimaginative fashion—with the requisite sex scenes, career fantasies, and designer outfits all in place. (Literary Guild Dual Selection for June)

Pub Date: April 5, 1993

ISBN: 0-671-66625-8

Page Count: 472

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1993

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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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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

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