Expect a lot of skimming to get to the good parts.

READ REVIEW

TEMPTED BY LOVE

A one-night stand and a mysterious attack complicate the “just friends” relationship between a Drug Enforcement Administration agent and the younger sister of his two best friends.

Jay Bennett and Alina Cooke can’t resist their attraction while attending the double wedding of Alina’s brothers. The aftermath of their fling quickly leads to a dizzying back and forth of returning to formality and then jumping back into bed. While it’s clear their chemistry is the motivation for their trysts, both are worried about anything more serious. They know the life of a DEA agent is dangerous. Jay doesn’t want to leave Alina worrying about whether or not he’ll come home safely. Alina doesn’t want to live with that constant uncertainty either considering she’s already spent time fretting over her brothers, who are fellow agents. Whatever fun the two are having, as they wind up in each other’s beds, is dashed by a frightening incident when Alina’s car is purposefully run off the road. Jay isn’t sure if his work as an agent has engendered Alina or something else is at play. The suspense element is the most interesting part of the book; unfortunately, it doesn't mesh particularly well with Jay and Alina’s romance. Often, the story feels like two different books were Frankenstein-ed together, with neither plot getting the depth it needs to be satisfying. Many characters are superfluous, with their introductions having little relevance to the main story. Jay’s DEA assignments and career history provide some insight to his actions, but they still seem more like filler than anything else. Admittedly, Alina and Jay are adorable together, with Jay’s protectiveness and worry making him a caring, thoughtful hero. Alina’s constant waffling over her feelings for Jay isn’t as endearing. With the added action and threat of danger, this should have been a fast-paced read, but it never truly reaches a level above tepid.

Expect a lot of skimming to get to the good parts.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-264529-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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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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A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

THE DECEPTION

A successful businesswoman hires a smooth-talking bounty hunter to find a lead on her sister’s murder.

Kate Gallagher was the only one available to identify her younger sister Chrissy’s body after she was found dead, having run away from home two years earlier. Since Chrissy succumbed to drugs and turned to sex work to survive, her murder isn't taken seriously by the local homicide department. Kate is filled with grief and regret at not having been there for her sister, and she’s determined to find her killer as a kind of penance. Jason Maddox is the charming man Kate almost hooked up with at a local bar. He also happens to be on the payroll of the most successful investigation company in Dallas. He’s all too eager to help Kate out and spend more time getting to know the blonde he danced with at the Sagebrush Saloon. At first, Kate and Jason vow to keep things professional until the case is solved; there’s obvious attraction that they’re willing to pursue at a later date. But the increasing sense of danger mixed with Kate and Jason’s close proximity proves to be too heady of a combination. The tension never lets up as the pair visit seedy bars and interrogate unsavory characters. With a steamy romance and undeniably hot chemistry, the main characters are well matched. They’re both driven, slightly stubborn, and enjoy the adrenaline rush of catching criminals. Martin (The Conspiracy, 2019, etc.) doesn’t skimp on graphic, violent details as Chrissy’s murder leads her couple to something much bigger: human trafficking. Though not for the faint of heart given its weighty material, this is an un-put-down-able page-turner that’s sure to satisfy fans of romance and thrillers alike.

A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-335-00769-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin HQN

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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