An un-put-down-able story that combines sensuality, tenderness, slightly far-fetched dramatic scenes, and memorable...

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HOW TO LOVE A DUKE IN TEN DAYS

In late Victorian England, a sexual assault survivor and a scarred nobleman nicknamed the Terror of Torcliff marry for practical reasons but become enamored with each other—within 10 days, as the title promises.

Dr. Alexandra Lane is a successful archaeologist, but she is haunted by her own history of having been raped by her boarding school headmaster when she was 17. Though Cecelia and Francesca, her two best friends, have been supportive, Alexandra has kept something from them since then, and now, 10 years later, her secret is at risk of exposure. When she meets Francesca’s almost-fiance, Piers, at his ancestral estate on the Devonshire moors, she proposes to him, which will help her keep her secret (and because she knows Francesca doesn’t want to marry him). Piers is an angry man, especially furious with his promiscuous mother and an unfaithful former lover. But Alexandra, with her scholarly bent, fearful demeanor, and sporadic acts of courage, catches his interest. Byrne (The Duke With the Dragon Tattoo, 2018, etc.) begins her Devil You Know series with an absorbing mix of old-school gothic romance with a woman in peril and the #MeToo era, celebrating the strength of survivors (as she writes in the book's dedication). After initially misunderstanding his wife’s past, Piers transforms from a self-centered duke with a marked sense of entitlement to a supportive spouse once he learns of her trauma. Whether a change like this is wishful thinking or a realistic depiction of the allies that some women might have had under pre-feminist patriarchy, it makes for a heartwarming romance. Even more empowering is the friendship among the three women, who model female solidarity and whose personas (and nicknames: Alexander, Cecil, and Frank) reject restrictive gender roles. The story’s overt politics sit in somewhat awkward proximity to the melodramatic end of the gothic plotline, but even that conclusion is enjoyable in its own way.

An un-put-down-able story that combines sensuality, tenderness, slightly far-fetched dramatic scenes, and memorable characters.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31884-8

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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On the day her fiance came out and left her at the altar, Faith escaped to the West Coast, where she’s had a thriving...

THE BEST MAN

When Faith Holland was abandoned at the altar three years ago, she left her hometown for San Francisco to regroup; coming home to Manningsport, she’ll have to confront her past and Levi Cooper, the disturbingly handsome chief of police she blames for ruining her life.

On the day her fiance came out and left her at the altar, Faith escaped to the West Coast, where she’s had a thriving professional life and a comical romantic life. Summoned home for a few months to work the harvest at her family’s winery and help with some crisis management, Faith realizes that some things in her small town will never change—for the good or the bad—but she knows the time has come to establish a new reality with her ex, her family and maybe even Levi Cooper, the best man who forced Jeremy to be honest with her and himself on their wedding day. It’s so much easier to blame and despise him; if she lets down her guard, she might have to deal with their short but profound shared past and her own guilt and secrets from a long-ago tragedy that has haunted her for most of her life. Higgins’ newest heart-tugging romantic comedy juggles a spectrum of emotionally powerful elements, including the death of a mother, the abandonment of a father and a sigh-worthy high school romance gone awry. With her typical engaging voice, compelling storytelling and amusing dialogue, Higgins keeps the audience flipping through pages as quickly as possible, but it is her spot-on ability to make her characters at once funny, authentic and vulnerable—vulnerable to the point of breaking, so they can heal, stronger and better and more able to love—that is her true genius and guarantees most romance fans will both laugh out loud and get teary, sometimes at the same time. Another sweet, touching must-read for Higgins fans and anyone who enjoys a perfect combination of humor and romance.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-373-77792-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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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