A slow-paced tale that offers well-drawn, multilayered characters and standout, sex-positive romance.



A commitment-phobic woman and a hopelessly romantic man strike sparks in this novel.

In London temporarily to visit her sister, Leia Scott, 26, is sure about a couple of things. One is that “there’s no such thing as true love,” a conclusion reached after a painful divorce; another is that it’s time to focus on her career as a fashion designer who makes upcycled, sustainable clothing. Though Canadian, Leia lives in New York City, supplementing her Frill-Seekers label with a job at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. When she bumps into the very attractive (and very rich) Tarquin Balfour at IKEA, he’s immediately smitten with her. Like Leia, he also refurbishes the old, worn out, and discarded, as a property developer in his case. Unlike Leia, he’s tired of meaningless hookups and ready for commitment. Their initial encounter seems destined to fizzle. Fortunately, a business connection through Tarquin’s designer friend brings them together. Before long, Tarquin and Leia begin a thrillingly hot, just-sex relationship, but she eventually breaks things off. It’s over—yet when they meet again, true love may have the last word. In her latest romance, Middleton deepens some standard elements (beautiful woman, wealthy man, fear of commitment, aspirational lifestyles) through strong character development. Tarquin, for example, seeks treatment for his depression, growing in the process. The couple’s shared interest in seeing new possibilities for the old or abandoned also supplies a more compelling reason for their attraction beyond the physical. Not that the physical is neglected: Sex scenes are steamy, well written, and anti-shaming. Humor enlivens the drama nicely, but the narrative crawls sometimes, hampered by extensive backstories and the overexplaining of inessentials.

A slow-paced tale that offers well-drawn, multilayered characters and standout, sex-positive romance.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9992753-0-3

Page Count: 472

Publisher: Kirkwall Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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A cozy quilt of recycled rom-com tropes.


British babies born in the same hospital in the first minutes of New Years' Day 1990 meet again on their 30th birthdays.

"Look, Shaylene, I'm sure you've seen Sleepless in Seattle? You know that bit where Meg Ryan is supposed to meet Tom Hanks at the top of the Empire State Building on Valentine's Day? Well I'm in a situation a bit like that," pleads the likable but self-defeating pie entrepreneur Minnie Cooper during the climax of Cousens' debut. Yes, she certainly is, having struggled for more than 300 pages through every rom-com trope in the book. Her story begins on New Years' Eve 1989, when her mother, Connie, goes through labor with a waifish but well-heeled wardmate named Tara Hamilton. One of them will win a cash prize for giving birth to the first baby of 1990, and wouldn't you know, it's the rich lady who doesn't need the money. Not only that, she steals the lucky name Connie has chosen for her child: Quinn. Furious, the Coopers decide instead on Minnie, not realizing that this will subject their daughter to a lifetime of self-esteem–crushing car jokes. On the other hand, Minnie needs her self-esteem crushed so that when she runs into the rich, handsome, mensch-y Quinn Hamilton on their shared birthday 30 years later she can spend a year spontaneously generating one mistaken impression after another so the two don't just accept what fate so clearly intends for them. While Quinn and Minnie don't stray far from type, they are surrounded by an entertaining supporting cast—Minnie's irritating punster boyfriend; her amateur horologist dad; her employees at the not-for-profit pie bakery, particularly a platinum blond wastrel named Fleur. Mother Connie is a bit of a problem, though. Seething with resentment about the stolen name and other injustices, she's a cold and negative mother who passes the chip on her shoulder to her daughter—until something happens offstage and she turns into a completely different person. Not sure what movie this comes from, but it doesn't work.

A cozy quilt of recycled rom-com tropes.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020


Page Count: 352

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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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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