A low-key but well-written thriller featuring a memorable main character who grows creepier by the page.

Brakus

In Millhollin’s debut novel, a professional thief with OCD scrambles to recover after a heist goes wrong in a small New England town.

Roy Brakus keeps a low profile. He moves around the country, disposing of cars and identities without a backward glance. He cases the homes of his affluent victims for weeks before meticulously breaking in and cleaning out their jewelry boxes. His OCD gives him a professional edge: “Maybe other burglars were more daring, or better climbers, or more technologically savvy than he was, but nobody out-organized him.” Brakus thinks he’s hit the mother lode when, after arriving in Vermont, he realizes that two wealthy customers at a local jewelry store happen to be neighbors. But, as in every small town in popular culture, placid surfaces conceal sinister depths: As Brakus watches both homes, planning a double burglary, he realizes that Barbara O’Connell’s husband abuses her and Sara Jacobs’ lawyer husband is having a very hot affair with his secretary. Millhollin shows a knack for the well-observed detail, as when he notes that the unused sidewalks in the upscale neighborhood are there for residents who want “the look and feel of a friendly neighborhood—without the hassle of having to actually interact with neighbors.” Brakus’ well-planned burglary goes awry when Barbara unexpectedly returns home; he shoots and kills her before escaping, forcing Sara’s husband, Dan, to defend Barbara’s much-detested husband in court. Into this drama hitchhikes Ethan Murphy, a Pollyannaish college graduate traveling cross-country who decides that the taciturn loner staying at his motel really needs a friend. Although there’s no whodunit-style tension here, the character of Brakus is intriguing enough to carry the action. Millhollin tells much of the story from the thief’s point of view, allowing him to capture readers’ empathy, but as the novel progresses and reveals more of Brakus’ chilly nature, those same readers may become increasingly uncomfortable.

A low-key but well-written thriller featuring a memorable main character who grows creepier by the page.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2014

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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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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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