A promising launch of a charming female lead with a nifty paranormal gift.

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Dream Student

DREAM SERIES, BOOK ONE

From the Dreams series , Vol. 1

College junior Sara Barnes starts seeing into others’ dreams, leading to romance and tracking down a killer, in this first installment of a paranormal suspense series.

Sleeping in her dorm room, Sara Barnes is surprised to turn into a cheerleader, applauding a boy. She realizes that she is experiencing the dream of the boy, who looks familiar. She then enters a scarier dreamscape of an older man violently dragging a young girl into a room. A somewhat shy pre-med student, Sara soon shares these latter, more frightening recurring visions with Beth, her beautiful, supportive psychology major roommate. She suggests a consult with Dr. Ritter, who runs the sleep lab on campus. Before that happens, however, the girls go out to a nightclub, where Sara spots Brian Alderson, the boy from the first dream. Emboldened by already knowing he likes her, Sara, a junior, approaches the shy freshman, and they become romantically and sexually involved. When Sara then goes to meet Dr. Ritter, she sees a newspaper clipping and learns that the girl she dreamed about has just been murdered. Rattled, she then starts dreaming about the killer’s plans for his next victim. With the help of Brian and Beth, Sara focuses on recalling key details from her nightmare to ferret out the killer’s identity and whereabouts. Author DiBenedetto (Dream Home: Dream Series, 2014, etc.) has created a highly entertaining concept in the saga of Sara, which he has developed in previous books. Sara is rather amusing about herself and her newfound abilities, especially when also enduring the humorous visions of her classmates. “I don’t want to know why Jackie down the hall is dreaming of giant ants,” she bemusedly notes. DiBenedetto also introduces a host of secondary characters with potential, including Sara’s pesky younger brother and Brian’s suspicious mother. Rather surprisingly, however, Dr. Ritter quickly disappears from the story, and some sequences, such as Sara’s Christmas visit home, drain momentum.

A promising launch of a charming female lead with a nifty paranormal gift. 

Pub Date: March 20, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4827-1627-6

Page Count: 292

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 24, 2015

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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 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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