Carefully crafted debut has a few funny lines, but the condescending tone grates.



Film student meets love interest.

Charlotte Frost has a mental habit of chronicling her life in screenplay format—but no one would pay money to see the movie, since her life is really, really boring. Okay, so she’s in the graduate film program at Columbia and the protégée of the famous Horton Lear, who thinks the world of her. But so what? Horton honestly doesn’t like her latest opus, Honey and Helen, which has to do with a lesbian love triangle involving a paraplegic, a nurse, and someone else. But it’s character-driven, Charlie whines, knowing that her chances of winning a prestigious film fellowship are slim. Off she stomps to teach yoga on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, where she corrects the downward-dog pose of an utterly gorgeous guy. How is she, the overly cerebral child of an English professor, supposed to know that Hank Destin is a soap opera star? Depressed after a date with a doorman who saves her from a mugging, she goes out with Hank anyway, who has darling dimples and muscular buns—and he’s heterosexual. Even though he, a native of New Jersey, seems to be a teeny bit lacking in the intellectual pretensions Charlie loves to flaunt—the wry literary allusions, the intuitive grasp of cryptic visual symbolism in obscure Russian films, the endless references to classic movies that have much better dialogue than this book has—Hank does send flowers and matzo balls from the Second Avenue Deli when she comes down with a cold. Charlie’s astonished to see herself on the Post’s Page Six, especially since Hank’s last flame, a gorgeous redheaded actress, is also mentioned. He can’t be serious. Wonder of wonders, though, Hank agrees to star in her shoestring-budget remake of Madame Bovary. Will it prove a hit at the Toronto Film Festival? Is his love real?

Carefully crafted debut has a few funny lines, but the condescending tone grates.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-06-059568-X

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2004

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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

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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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