Enchanting Regency romance with affable central characters that tastefully blends sex with essentials of the genre.

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STAGES OF DESIRE

Tagan’s (A Question of Class, 2014) lively romance, set in London in 1808, has a young woman falling for the man pursuing her guardian’s daughter.

Her actor father having abandoned her when she was 12, Harriet Farley is now the ward of Eleanor, Duchess of Dorset. Eleanor’s daughter, Lady Marianne, awaits a marriage proposal from William Talbot, Earl of Abingdon, who’s researching a cure for malaria. Harriet meets a potential suitor of hers, Mr. Hopplehill, handpicked by the duchess, but he’s middle-aged, balding and small in stature. Harriet flees to her host’s study, where she encounters William engaging in animated conversation with his sister about the theater. Later, Adam Rousby, a friend of her father’s, informs Harriet of her father’s troubles: He may be bound for debtors prison. Although initially reluctant, Harriet agrees to go to Birmingham to see him, though any association with the theater, and the trip itself, are deemed inappropriate. It is agreed William will travel with her—he’s to confer with a colleague in the area—chaperoned by Mrs. Entwhistle, William’s former nursemaid. The trip is marked by various calamities, including a barn fire and an assault by thieves, although Mrs. Entwhistle, who may have gone round the bend, is having the time of her life. With nowhere to stay, the group stops at a lord’s home and, at his request, performs Shakespeare’s As You Like It with Harriet, an impressive Rosalind and William, a tolerable Orlando. Impulsively, he kisses her on stage, but they both know a long-term relationship is out of the question. The novel has typical Regency elements—a strong, spirited heroine, class distinctions and manners, and mystery—and some racy scenes. William’s medical research and Harriet’s theater expertise combine in clever ways, adding dimension to their mutual attraction. Clearly, Marianne, although pretty, is no intellectual match for William, while Harriet’s intelligence and insights, and her physicality, stir William’s desire. It’s a sparkling romance and road trip, a satisfying read with delightful surprises along the way.

Enchanting Regency romance with affable central characters that tastefully blends sex with essentials of the genre.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-1616506674

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Lyrical Trade

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2014

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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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