A painless read but with few rewards.

YOU AND ME, ALWAYS

British author Mansell (Three Amazing Things About You, 2015, etc.) continues her franchise of pastel-covered books featuring the romantic lives of lovable characters in picturesque English locales.

On Lily Harper’s 25th birthday, she opens a letter from her deceased mother, as she has done ever since her mother’s death when she was a little girl. In this letter, her mother reveals the identity of her first love, Declan Madison, the one that got away. Lily decides to contact him and invite him to visit Stanton Langley, the village in the Cotswolds where she runs an architectural salvage business with her guardian and mother’s best friend, Coral. Outside of work, Lily’s active social life involves childhood friends Patsy and Dan Rafferty. Patsy, a hairdresser, has been braving the online dating scene since divorcing her gay husband, and Dan, a pilot, has had a string of beautiful girlfriends, none of whom have been Lily, much to her disappointment. Lily’s pleasant but ordinary life takes a turn, however, when she meets Eddie Tessler, a charming movie star hiding in Stanton Langley from a show-business scandal. Eddie fancies Lily, which is unbelievable to Lily and an unpleasant surprise to Dan. Though the characters are likable enough and the village of Stanton Langley is vivid and enchanting, there are few surprises in this mostly uninspired novel. The various storylines are either predictable or suspended before any real trouble can brew. Mansell’s fans might be disappointed to find some of her signature wit lacking in the clunky writing and insipid dialogue. Yet, despite its shortcomings, this novel continues to deliver an appealing brand: uncomplicated stories of ordinary lives taking extraordinary romantic turns in British settings. It can be enjoyed on a rainy afternoon with a pot of tea and some scones.

A painless read but with few rewards.

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3885-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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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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An entertaining page-turner.

MET HER MATCH

Terri Rayburn is devastated that her perfect man belongs to someone else, but once Nate Taggert realizes that Terri's the one for him, her complicated past still stands in the way of their being together.

Terri is attracted to Nate the moment she lays eyes on him, and soon they fall into an easy partnership at the Virginia lake resort she runs with her father. Nate is upfront about being engaged to the mayor’s daughter, Stacy, but she’s in Europe for a few weeks, and it quickly becomes clear to Terri that Nate and Stacy aren’t a great match. However, Terri, whose mother left when she was 2, has always had a problematic relationship with the citizens of Summer Hill. Since Leslie disappeared, the town gossip has made sure everyone remembers her as a promiscuous vixen, a label which tainted Terri as she got older and made her look like a problem when, as Nate begins to understand, she was really a victim. It’s clear to everyone around them that they are falling in love, but even as Nate realizes it himself, Terri is adamant that they can’t be together. She won’t steal him from the popular Stacy because it would mean she’d never be able to live in Summer Hill, and she won’t abandon her father. Deveraux spins an intriguing and unorthodox romance, continuing her Summer Hill branch of the Taggert/Montgomery series with two characters who have some unique, interesting obstacles in their paths and navigate through them with secrets uncovered and old wounds healed. The story is well plotted, though Nate is unnecessarily oblivious sometimes and the book takes an unexpected swing into romantic suspense territory in the last quarter. The solved mystery resolves Nate and Terri’s conflict, though the villain’s motivations seem a little cartoonish.

An entertaining page-turner.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7783-5124-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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