A vague relationship saga with a commonplace plot.

COME INTO THE LIGHT

In Longden’s debut novel, a young widow becomes the housekeeper to a wealthy, difficult man—and realizes her potential.

Californian Sydney Holmes had been performing odd, temporary jobs for years following the deaths of her husband and children, when she applies to be a personal secretary and housekeeper for Jason Jamieson. Sydney is beautiful, with a propensity for wearing low-backed dresses, and a slow simmer of tension starts to build between her and her employer, a prominent corporate executive whose temper and coldness are gradually proven to mask a sense of compassion. As Sydney takes on greater responsibility at Jason’s firm, and as she demonstrates her thoughtfulness over the course of their live-in professional relationship—particularly during Jason’s health crisis—Jason cannot help but reconsider their platonic situation. The novel tells an age-old story (rich man, poor woman who teaches him virtues) through a string of anecdotes, which, while sometimes touching, lacks the specifics that would ground the story or distinguish it from previous, similar iterations. For instance, Sydney seems intended to be close to perfect, but her actions and dialogue instead make her seem abrasive. Jason, whose handsomeness is understood (though we have no idea what he looks like) and whose position is important (though what he does, exactly, remains ambiguous), doesn’t have many depicted attributes beyond an affinity for poker. We are told what he is like, but we do not witness it. Some of the dialogue perplexes (“ ‘Don’t get fat, Sydney.’ ‘Who cares?’ ‘About five guys who will see you shortly.’ ‘You’re sweet.’ ”) or aggravates (“ ‘I like it when you get angry; the minute you get defeated you have a beautiful look about you. You succumb,’ Jason said”). Other exchanges, however, bristle with playful yet demure sexiness; it’s in those moments that the chemistry between Sydney and Jason becomes unmistakable—and thoroughly enjoyable. The message of redemption through love is an admirable one, but that message too often becomes overshadowed by episodes and language that cause stumbling rather than smooth progression toward the end.

A vague relationship saga with a commonplace plot. 

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-1489582133

Page Count: 326

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2014

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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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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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