A LITTLE FOLLY

Released from their domineering father’s strict expectations by his unexpected death, siblings Valentine and Louisa decide to explore life beyond his rigid boundaries. Heading to London, they are tested by their newfound freedom.

When their father seems to die from an actual fit of apoplexy, Valentine and Louisa are, for the first time in their lives, free to do as they please, which given the tight leash he has maintained on every detail of their existence, is heady indeed. Acquainting themselves to relatives they never knew, they are easily convinced to head into London to get a taste of sophisticated city life. Valentine becomes embroiled in an affair with a married woman who leads him in a merry dance on the edges of propriety, entangling him in murky debts and pushing him into events that could have devastating consequences. Meanwhile, Louisa, who finally has the ability to refuse the man her father expected her to marry, dips her toes into romance and begins to realize that freedom has pros and cons. As circumstances grow complicated and sinister, Valentine and Louisa revisit what matters most and understand the value of having friends they can depend on, even from surprisingly familiar quarters. This book is a witty, intelligent, Regency-set light romance that is reminiscent of such writers as Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. The language and storyline are clever and highly polished, though almost too much so; often it seems that the distinctly historical tone and cerebral style get in the way of moving the story forward. While the characters are engaging even as they embroil themselves in situations that make the reader want to reach into the book and shake them, they don’t have the compelling qualities for which Austen or Heyer characters are famous, and therefore, the ironic, detached narrative style seems at times annoying and obstructive rather than charming. This entry misses the mark of Morgan’s previous forays into historical romantic fiction.

Many modern romance readers will find the book slow-moving and florid, while others may find the core of the story too lightweight.

Pub Date: March 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-250-02227-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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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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