A busy and steamy romance where the conflict is a bit manufactured but the love is not.

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LORD SEBASTIAN'S SECRET

They’re perfect for each other—but their families aren’t.

Lord Sebastian Gresham has done the unbelievable and somehow landed himself the beautiful and intelligent Lady Georgina Stane as his future wife. As a younger son of the Duke of Langford, he’s unlikely to inherit, so he has made a career in the military while hiding his dyslexia from everybody except his valet and trying to avoid notice. As the book begins, his happy ending is in sight: he just has to get through a few weeks with his future in-laws. This turns out to be harder than he anticipates, because even though Georgina's father, the Marquess of Pembridge, comes from a very proper noble line, he and his family are unusual. “All families had their oddities,” as Georgina says hopefully, but hers has a father of intense academic obsessions, a mother who breeds and keeps pugs, and two nosy sisters. Sebastian and Georgina simply want to marry and spend a quiet, normal life together, but the weeks before their wedding keep presenting challenges. Georgina is the model of a perfect Regency heroine, with her family her only flaw, so it is in Sebastian that the book finds its true protagonist. His trouble reading and belief that he’s “thick” are important to the plot, but rather than using them to elicit pity, Ashford shows that intelligence and heroism can take many forms. The plot meanders and is stuffed with several pratfalls, including an ongoing clumsy attempt to portray how the British might have misunderstood Hindu theology. But though Ashford (What the Duke Doesn't Know, 2016, etc.) has a tendency to distract from the sweet and pure romance between Sebastian and Georgina, it is their love that ultimately brings the book together and makes it satisfy.

A busy and steamy romance where the conflict is a bit manufactured but the love is not.

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-2162-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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Despite the false start, this heartwarming story sweetly balances friendship and mother-child bonding with romantic love.

WINDOW ON THE BAY

Macomber (Be a Blessing, 2019, etc.) threatens to set her latest beach read in Paris, but her characters have other plans.

Maureen Zelinski and Jenna Boltz have been friends since college. Years ago, their plans to go to Paris were thwarted when Maureen found out she was pregnant. Now that they’re both single mothers whose children have left the nest, the time is right to dust off their passports and try again. In a somewhat disappointing turn of events, Maureen and Jenna don’t make it to Paris just yet. Instead, they stay in Seattle and pursue new love interests. Jenna, a nurse, meets orthopedic surgeon Dr. Rowan Lancaster in the emergency room after her mother falls and hurts her hip. Maureen, against her better judgment, accepts a date with Logan, a union plumber who frequents the library where she works. Jenna is afraid to date a co-worker after her workplace romance with her ex failed, but when Rowan proves to be a good listener, she’s more willing to discuss her options. Maureen doesn’t think she’ll fit in with Logan and his beer-drinking buddies, but she’s surprised when she enjoys their date at a football game. Meanwhile, Jenna worries about her children, Allie and Paul, as they navigate college and life. Though the story is primarily told from the two mothers’ perspectives, Allie breaks into the narrative with a surprising connection to Rowan. Maureen’s daughter, Tori, also takes on the role of confidante. The happy endings (and potential travel plans) unfold with a touch of realism to contrast the idyllic backdrop of the Pacific Northwest.

Despite the false start, this heartwarming story sweetly balances friendship and mother-child bonding with romantic love.

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-18133-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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