A satisfying combination of romance and mystery.

OUT OF HABIT

Secrets from the past threaten a young woman’s future in this debut novel.

Allison Weston overcame a traumatic childhood to build a promising career as a teacher of hearing-impaired children at St. Ives Institution in South Harbor, Michigan. An orphan, she has lived at St. Ives since she was 10 years old. She remembers little of her past or the circumstances that led to the death of her mother. Deeply committed to the institution, she plans on becoming a nun; however, her guardian, Sister Margaret, wants her to live on her own before taking her vows. The prospect of romance is the last thing on her mind until she meets photojournalist Ryan Harper. Handsome and sincere, he is drawn to Allison and embarks on a campaign to win her love and trust. Just as she is starting to reconsider her future, she is tormented by reminders of the past. A series of anonymous letters hints at her involvement in a murder, and she begins to have horrifying nightmares. Desperate to help unlock the secrets of Allison’s past, Ryan begins his own investigation. As the threats escalate and hit close to home, Allison and Ryan find themselves in a race to discover the truth. Dutton’s tale is solidly entertaining, with engaging characters and a plot that successfully weaves together a tender love story and an unpredictable mystery. The novel is anchored by Allison, a gifted teacher discovering life outside the institution that sheltered her for more than a decade. She is well-matched with Ryan, and their romance unfolds at a gradual but believable pace as Allison struggles to decide whether she should pursue a relationship with him. The strong supporting characters include Allison’s neighbor Holly Kiefer and Maria Giovanni, the rectory housekeeper and the heroine’s closest confidante. Setting plays a key role, and Dutton does a fine job of bringing South Harbor to life, from lively summer festivals at St. Ives to Allison’s favorite lighthouse. The love story is well-balanced with the mystery, which offers suspense and valuable insight into Allison’s background.

A satisfying combination of romance and mystery.

Pub Date: April 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5043-7474-3

Page Count: 292

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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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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