What doesn’t strain credulity is entirely predictable.

NAME DROPPING

Heller (Crystal Clear, 1997, etc.) adds a wide miss to a hit-or-miss record with a clichéd and carelessly plotted romantic suspenser about mistaken identities.

Divorced from a man who didn't appreciate her, 30-something Nancy Stern’s “good years” are slipping away, as her wacky, romantically desperate best friend Janice reminds her. The women are both preschool teachers at Small Blessings, an elite Manhattan nursery school, but after hours Janice zanily cruises bookstores and proposes on first dates, while Nancy is stuck in her quiet, single routine. That changes fast when celebrity journalist Nancy Stern moves into her building and narrator Nancy Stern mistakenly receives invitations and phone calls opening vistas onto a more glamorous life. Though Nancy the journalist is unpleasant and unhappy, Nancy the narrator envies the trappings of her life enough to hijack a piece of it when exclusive-jewelry store manager Bill Harris phones to arrange a blind date. Pretending to be her neighbor, Nancy I dates Bill; they fall in love, but she calls it off rather than confess her deception. When Nancy II’s unexplained murder makes the front pages, Bill returns, angrily demands the truth, then leaves. The lovers are reunited by a stolen brooch (a misdirected gift from one of Nancy's rich young preschoolers), and before long they're living together, on the trail of jewel-thieves and murderers, headed toward a picture-perfect wedding on Block Island. Heller counts on his heroine’s charm to carry the reader past forced plot turns, unlikely decisions, and glaring coincidences, but Nancy is more often smug, glib, coy, or vulgar—much less endearing traits.

What doesn’t strain credulity is entirely predictable.

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-312-25234-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2000

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With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

LOVE AND OTHER WORDS

Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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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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