This decidedly filmable update of the classic romance—without zombies or vampires—will charm lovers of Jane Austen and chick...

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BY THE BOOK

Professor Anne Corey is stunned to learn that her ex-fiance has been hired as Fairfax College’s new president. Her troubles are only beginning.

In her debut novel, Sonneborn retells Jane Austen’s Persuasion, setting it in the rarified world of academia, where Anne’s brilliant teaching and love of 19th-century women’s novels—Persuasion is indeed her favorite—are threatened by the brutal circus of three-year contracts and the dangling sword of publish-or-perish. Supported by her best friend, Larry—a bracingly witty Henry James scholar who has embroiled himself in a clandestine affair with a married, rather dim, but gorgeous actor who's playing Rochester in a movie called Jane Vampire, based on the Brontë novel—Anne has embraced her career. Although it's nearly impoverished her, it has helped her forget Adam Martinez, her college sweetheart, whom she abandoned on the eve of graduation. Now that Adam has taken the reins at Fairfax, Anne will have to face her past: why did she leave him? And does she still have feelings for him? Meanwhile, brash Man Booker Prize–winning author Rick Chasen has swooped into Anne’s life. A motorcycle-riding bad boy with stories to tell of surviving an IED in Fallujah and fomenting rebellion among college professors, Rick has secured a writer-in-residence position at Fairfax, but he and Adam clearly have bad blood between them, and no one will tell Anne why. Sonneborn handily translates Austen’s tale into a modern context, creating a light, bright revision with quirkily compelling characters: Anne’s 98 overdue library books, her willingness to watch the movie Jane Vampire over and over with a besotted Larry, not to mention her patient explanation of all things Jane Eyre to Larry’s simple-minded lover, endear her to the reader, who eagerly awaits the famous words: “Reader, I married him.”

This decidedly filmable update of the classic romance—without zombies or vampires—will charm lovers of Jane Austen and chick lit alike.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7518-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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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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This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

OUTFOX

An FBI agent is determined to catch a man who bilks and murders wealthy women, but the chase goes slowly.

Brown (Tailspin, 2018, etc.) has published 70 bestsellers, and this one employs her usual template of thriller spiked with romance. Its main character, Drex Easton, is an FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer, but for him it’s personal. When he was a boy, his mother left him and his father for another man, Weston Graham. Drex believes Graham murdered her and that he has killed at least seven more women after emptying their bank accounts. Now he thinks he has the clever Graham—current alias Jasper Ford—in his sights, and he’s willing to put his career at risk to catch him. The women Ford targets are wealthy, and his new prey is no exception—except that, uncharacteristically, he has married her. Talia Ford proves to be a complication for Drex, who instantly falls in lust with her even though he’s not at all sure she isn’t her husband's accomplice. Posing as a would-be novelist, Drex moves into an apartment next door to the Fords’ posh home and tries to ingratiate himself, but tensions rise immediately—Jasper is suspicious, and Talia has mixed feelings about Drex's flirtatious behavior. When Talia’s fun-loving friend Elaine Conner turns up dead after a cruise on her yacht and Jasper disappears, Drex and Talia become allies. There are a few action sequences and fewer sex scenes, but the novel’s pace bogs down repeatedly in long, mundane conversations. Drex's two FBI agent sidekicks are more interesting characters than he is; Drex himself is such a caricature of a macho man, so heedless of ethics, and so aggressive toward women that it’s tough to see him as a good guy. Brown adds a couple of implausible twists at the very end that make him seem almost as untrustworthy as Graham.

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7219-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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