In spite of the strong characters and engaging writing style, the novel is disappointing because of its lackluster plot.

THE SCOTTISH DUKE

When a straight-laced Scottish duke loses his head and makes love to a mystery woman at a masquerade, he's shocked to find, months later, that he's going to be a father.

The orphaned Lorna Gordon avoids the poorhouse in Victorian Scotland by taking a position as a maid at Blackhall Castle, the seat of the Duke of Kinross. She quickly becomes obsessed with Alexander Russell, the handsome but reserved duke, and attends a fancy dress ball in disguise in order to get his attention. The duke, who never noticed Lorna when she was dressed as a maid, is captivated, and the two end up conceiving a child in the castle’s conservatory. As her pregnancy advances, Lorna must leave her position, but Alex learns of the situation and brings her back to the estate. They marry in haste while Lorna is in labor, making their son the duke’s legal heir. So far, so good—but the plot from here on out is woefully predictable. It's obvious to the reader that Alex has fallen in love with Lorna, but because of betrayals and hurts in his past, it takes him hundreds of pages to realize it. However, this first book in the new Duke Trilogy is saved by Ranney’s (An American in Scotland, 2016) ability to create unusual and complex characters. Alex is an amateur scientist studying fingerprints, while Lorna is a talented illustrator who also knows how to make herbal remedies. Both are charmingly flawed, and both grow during the story. There are also several secondary characters with interesting story arcs, such as the dowager duchess and the maid, Nan, who is a true friend to Lorna.

In spite of the strong characters and engaging writing style, the novel is disappointing because of its lackluster plot.

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-246687-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

LOVE AND OTHER WORDS

Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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ON MYSTIC LAKE

Hannah, after eight paperbacks, abandons her successful time-travelers for a hardcover life of kitchen-sink romance. Everyone must have got the Olympic Peninsula memo for this spring because, as of this reading, authors Hannah, Nora Roberts, and JoAnn Ross have all placed their newest romances in or near the Quinault rain forest. Here, 40ish Annie Colwater, returns to Washington State after her husband, high-powered Los Angeles lawyer Blake, tells her he’s found another (younger) woman and wants a divorce. Although a Stanford graduate, Annie has known only a life of perfect wifedom: matching Blake’s ties to his suits and cooking meals from Gourmet magazine. What is she to do with her shattered life? Well, she returns to dad’s house in the small town of Mystic, cuts off all her hair (for a different look), and goes to work as a nanny for lawman Nick Delacroix, whose wife has committed suicide, whose young daughter Izzy refuses to speak, and who himself has descended into despair and alcoholism. Annie spruces up Nick’s home on Mystic Lake and sends “Izzy-bear” back into speech mode. And, after Nick begins attending AA meetings, she and he become lovers. Still, when Annie learns that she’s pregnant not with Nick’s but with Blake’s child, she heads back to her empty life in the Malibu Colony. The baby arrives prematurely, and mean-spirited Blake doesn’t even stick around to support his wife. At this point, it’s perfectly clear to Annie—and the reader—that she’s justified in taking her newborn daughter and driving back north. Hannah’s characters indulge in so many stages of the weeps, from glassy eyes to flat-out sobs, that tear ducts are almost bound to stay dry. (First printing of 100,000; first serial to Good Housekeeping; Literary Guild/Doubleday book club selections)

Pub Date: March 31, 1999

ISBN: 0-609-60249-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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