A careful examination of family ties with an international flavor.



A mother and daughter make separate journeys and come to new understandings about themselves and their relationships in Townsend’s (Imperfect Pairings, 2013, etc.) novel.

Though her life is outwardly full and prosperous, Rhonda Knight feels lost as she turns 47. She runs the Knight Foundation, a charity, but her children have left home; her estranged sister, Evelyn, died abroad two years ago; and her divorce is now final. She was never a believer in passionate, romantic love; she thinks it just gets most people, like her adopted daughter Olivia’s biological parents, into trouble. Nineteen-year-old Olivia, meanwhile, has always felt out of step in her family. Her passion is theater, but seeing no future in it, she’s studying pre-law. She’s not athletic like her older brothers or Rhonda, who’s an Olympic volleyball gold medalist. Now, two years after Evelyn’s death, mother and daughter take separate trips. Olivia is asked to Hanoi, Vietnam, by Marco Rossellini, Evelyn’s former lover, who has some of her old things. Meanwhile, Rhonda, not knowing of her daughter’s journey, flies to Italy hoping to confront Marco at his home; she resents him, in part, for the influence he had on Evelyn. Instead, Rhonda meets Marco’s daughter, Carlotta, who’s training as an Olympic fencer. Both trips spark memories, reflections, and new determination in both mother and daughter while revealing life-changing family secrets. Townsend has a lyrical, emotional style that’s especially evident in the Vietnam section but also in smaller moments, as when Rhonda squints at her Olympic medal, “waiting for the heat of it to embroil her as it always did when she stole this secret moment for herself.” A sense of realism helps anchor the story, in details of Olympic training or the Knight family’s financial arrangements. The prose can become clichéd at times (“her parents’ divorce had left a big, gaping hole in the fabric of her being”), but overall, this complicated family, full of ambitious women, makes a fresh impression. 

A careful examination of family ties with an international flavor.

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943006-21-2

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Spark Press

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • IndieBound Bestseller


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

Did you like this book?

Another success for the publishing phenom.


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?