There's more action than romance in this thrill-a-minute roller coaster, but as always, Ryan (His Cowboy Heart, 2017, etc.)...

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MONTANA HEAT

ESCAPE TO YOU

Can romance blossom in the aftermath of trauma? A movie star and an undercover agent try to find out in Ryan's new Montana Heat series.

When A-list actress Ashley Swan goes missing, Hollywood assumes she's taking time away from the spotlight. A year later, Beck “Trigger” Cooke, an undercover DEA agent, finds her and a little boy in the snow outside his isolated Montana house. He recognizes Ashley immediately and soon learns that the boy is named Adam and his mother was killed by the same man who'd been holding Ashley captive, beating and starving her. Beck begins the slow process of nursing the actress back to health and guiding her through the process of reclaiming her life. Part of that will involve figuring out how to wrangle the media circus that surrounds her on her own terms. Ashley's captor, Brice Mooney, is also a celebrity, a talk show host—one with a dossier of blackmail on a lot of powerful people. As if that weren't enough, Beck has been laying low to avoid a drug dealer who blames him for the death of his cousin. Being with Ashley and Adam makes Beck think that maybe he is ready to give up being an undercover agent before the darkness of associating with murderers and drug dealers consumes him. He allows himself to be photographed with Ashley on the way to the hospital, despite the danger of being recognized. What Beck and Ashley don't know is that while they're taking steps to put the man responsible for her kidnapping away, a vengeance-fueled drug dealer is growing closer to finding Beck's true identity. When the two villains team up to catch Ashley and Beck, their worlds collide in an action-packed climax straight out of a summer blockbuster.

There's more action than romance in this thrill-a-minute roller coaster, but as always, Ryan (His Cowboy Heart, 2017, etc.) doesn't disappoint.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-269719-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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Another success for the publishing phenom.

UNDER CURRENTS

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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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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