Whelan has created a beautiful, romantic story that focuses on big ideas—love, death, poetry, and what really matters in the...

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MY OXFORD YEAR

A young woman starts an unexpected relationship while studying at Oxford in Whelan’s debut.

Ella Duran has a lot going on. After dreaming of studying at Oxford since she was a girl, she’s finally there on a Rhodes scholarship, studying English language and literature from 1830-1914. She still has a career back in America, though—working in politics, where she has a chance to be the education consultant on a junior senator’s campaign for president. She’ll be working remotely and flying back to D.C. the second her year in Oxford ends. It all seems to be working out perfectly…but then she meets Jamie Davenport. After he runs into her in a chip shop and knocks a plate of condiments into her shirt, she thinks he’s just a jerk and assumes she’ll never see him again. But when she walks into her first day of class, she’s dismayed to see that Jamie Davenport is her professor. Ella is soon making connections with her brainy classmates, including dramatic Charlie, pink-haired Maggie, and goofy Tom. She also begins a friendship with Jamie that soon turns into much more, although his reputation as a playboy and her short time in England make her assume that their “relationship” has an expiration date. But Jamie is charismatic and adventurous, and Ella can’t help falling for him—which is why it’s such a shock when she discovers that he’s been hiding a huge secret. He has cancer, and now Ella must decide if their relationship will really be over when her Oxford year ends or if she wants to stay by his side through the inevitable ups and downs of his illness. Whelan describes Oxford richly, allowing readers to almost smell the chips and hear the bustle on the streets. Ella is an engaging narrator, one many readers will easily relate to, and her friends are fun, wacky characters who trade quips as quickly as if they were on Gilmore Girls. Ella and Jamie’s relationship, which could so easily turn saccharine, always feels genuine, in part because the description of his illness and chemo focuses on the realistically awful details. Despite the subject matter, the story is infused with enough humor that it never feels unbearably heavy.

Whelan has created a beautiful, romantic story that focuses on big ideas—love, death, poetry, and what really matters in the end.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-274064-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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