Though sometimes the language isn't as witty or romantic as it's trying to be, Topper makes good use of the dress as a plot...

DICTATORSHIP OF THE DRESS

Two strangers in transit share plenty of baggage in Topper’s (Louder Than Love, 2013) second romance.

Former Marvel Comics illustrator Laney Hudson isn't thrilled about having to transport her mother’s wedding gown from New York to Hawaii as carry-on luggage. Naturally, though, when people see a woman lugging a wedding gown, they're going to assume she's the bride, which Laney uses to her advantage to get bumped to first class on the first leg of her journey, from New York to Chicago. Seated next to her is Noah Ridgewood, a software designer with an acute fear of flying and a demanding socialite fiancee who's giving him a serious case of cold feet. When a flight attendant mistakenly announces Laney’s and Noah’s pending nuptials with a champagne toast, they have no choice but to ride out the charade until they land in Chicago. From there, they will surely go their separate ways. His destination is Vegas, where his bachelor party is already underway, and she has miles to go before she can watch her mother get married on Waipouli Beach. Fortunately, a bad storm grounds both of their connecting flights, giving Laney and Noah more time to get to know each other. Their interactions evolve in a typical arc, starting with faintly antagonistic banter and ending with intimate epiphanies, but Laney and Noah are unique, likable characters worth rooting for as they fall in love and try to overcome the complications of their situation. At the end of their magical layover, Noah still needs to contend with his fiancee, Sloane, who is also the boss’s daughter, and Laney still has to face her own romantic past: a turbulent relationship with her rock drummer boyfriend who suffered an untimely death. And let’s not forget Laney’s mother, waiting in Hawaii for her wedding dress.

Though sometimes the language isn't as witty or romantic as it's trying to be, Topper makes good use of the dress as a plot device and infuses enough fun and suspense into the rollicking storyline to make it a satisfying read.

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-425-27625-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Berkley Sensation

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 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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A breezy tale perfect for a day at the beach, this one’s a real winner.

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THE HATING GAME

Lucy Hutton absolutely detests her office mate Joshua Templeman. He’s a pompous, self-important, obnoxious ass. But, she’s got to admit, he is pretty cute.

From the moment they meet, a result of the unwelcome corporate merger between their employers, Lucy and Joshua are at odds. Joshua is assistant to the CEO of what was once Bexley Publishing, a numbers-crunching, foosball-playing frat house–cum-business. Lucy is assistant to the CEO of the now-defunct Gamin Publishing, a Birkenstock-clad, free-flowing commune of literary purists. When the two companies begrudgingly become one, so does the executive suite. Thus begins this hate-at-first-sight romantic comedy. Lucy and Joshua’s daily interactions include the staring game, the mirror game, and the HR game, each played with the intensity of the Hunger Games. Their mutual antipathy grows when a new executive position opens at Bexley-Gamin Publishing and both Lucy's and Joshua’s bosses think their protégés would be the perfect choice. Here the high-stakes game begins. After yet another 60-hour work week, which now includes prepping for upcoming interviews, Lucy logs off of her computer (Password: IHATEJOSHUA4EV@) to head home, but not before her rival hops into the elevator with her. When Joshua hits the emergency button and stops the ride, Lucy is certain her nemesis is going to kill her. Instead, he plants a (completely consensual) kiss on her that awakens something she hadn’t known existed. Debut novelist Thorne delivers something nearly impossible: an entirely predictable plot that is also completely fresh, original, and utterly charming. From the opening page, readers will know the outcome of Lucy and Joshua’s relationship, but what happens in between is magic. From Lucy’s hilarious inner dialogue to Joshua’s sharp retorts, the chemistry between them is irresistibly adorable—and smokin’ hot.

A breezy tale perfect for a day at the beach, this one’s a real winner.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-243959-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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