An Edwardian theater love story that tests the boundaries of just how unlikable a romance hero can be.

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SEDUCE ME WITH SAPPHIRES

Two thespians strut and fret and argue throughout their hour upon the stage together.

The Honorable Miss Fenella Grantley knows she should be grateful for her life of ease and privilege, but everything feels unrelentingly gloomy to her. Except, that is, when she sneaks out to Bloomsbury for her acting classes. Those classes get even more interesting when playwright Edward Tremayne, by-blow of the Earl of Pendleton, comes to class with a draft of his newest work, Sapphire. She takes an immediate dislike to Edward and his “arrogance and contempt,” so he takes her for hot chocolate to apologize for his rudeness. And despite the fact that the two can’t go more than a few sentences at a time without bickering, they soon become intimate, and a few days later, they’ve not only slept together, but Fenella is also concocting elaborate excuses to spend the night at his lodgings. Both are prickly and prone to misunderstandings, but they are continually drawn back to each other and have to decide whether their chemistry can or should survive the tumult of these continuous conflicts. Unfortunately, it will be hard for many readers to look forward to this happy ending. From their first meeting, Edward seems unnecessarily unkind to Fenella, and although this is supposedly because of his nerves and attraction to her, modern sensibilities may find him creepy and overbearing rather than charming. Additionally, his obsession with Sapphire and insistence that Fenella perform her role in exactly the way he’s imagined it is an unfortunately timeless example of a male artist who puts his ego before all others—not exactly the swoon-inspiring stuff of a romance hero. For her part, Fenella is pleasingly independent, which makes her attraction to Edward all the more confusing. The book, second in a series but able to stand alone, may appeal to Feather’s longtime fans but is unlikely to work for readers who aren’t already inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt.

An Edwardian theater love story that tests the boundaries of just how unlikable a romance hero can be.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4201-4362-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Zebra/Kensington

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

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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A promising start to a series, provided Roberts can flesh out her derivative heroine.

THE WITNESS

A young woman in hiding from the Russian mob faces a difficult decision when she falls in love with a cop.

Abigail, 28, lives alone in the bucolic hamlet of Bickford, Ark., in an isolated house, fortified with firearms, a state-of-the-art alarm system and a vicious dog named Bert. When the town’s genial police chief, Brooks, suspects Abigail is packing while shopping for gourmet groceries, his curiosity soon morphs into courtship. Although she finds herself drawn to Brooks and to his welcoming, bohemian family, Abigail dares not reveal that her real name is Liz—which is not the only way in which she appears to be Roberts’ answer to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Gifted with an eidetic memory, an IQ over 200 and an affinity for cool, calculated mayhem, Liz/Abigail is a skilled hacker and a highly paid security consultant. In her spare time she investigates the Russian mob and the crooked federal agents who are responsible for her current predicament; whenever possible, she throws virtual monkey wrenches into the mob’s Internet scams. When she witnesses an altercation between Brooks and the wastrel son of a local magnate, she’s thrust back into the horror of the last time she witnessed a crime. At 16, rebelling against an unloving, controlling mother, Liz and a girlfriend, Julie, visited a Chicago nightclub run by the Russian Mafia, where Ilya, son of gang kingpin Sergei, and Alexi, a cousin, seduced them with Cosmos. Later, at Alexi’s lakeside home, Liz was an unseen witness to a hit on Alexi by Sergei’s enforcers, who also killed Julie. Managing to escape, Liz was forced to run again when two dirty FBI agents destroyed her safe house and murdered her guards. A person of interest to both the Feds and the mob, she’s been on the lam for 12 years. Before they can marry, Brooks must help Liz come in from the cold.

A promising start to a series, provided Roberts can flesh out her derivative heroine.

Pub Date: April 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-15912-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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