And although her attempt to build suspense is weak, the author’s description of the beautiful Australian coastline will...

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LIGHTHOUSE BAY

Freeman’s romance (Wildflower Hill, 2010) weaves together the stories of two women, separated by a century, who finally move to embrace their futures.

When Isabella Winterbourne accompanies her wealthy husband on a voyage from England to Australia in 1901, she’s still grieving the death of their infant son a few years earlier. She despises her authoritarian husband, Arthur, and his family, renowned for their jewelry empire. The couple is accompanying a piece of great value, a jewel-encrusted gold mace, which was commissioned by the queen as a gift for the Australian Parliament. But the ship sinks off the Australian coast during a storm, and Isabella is the only survivor. She saves the chest that contains not only the mace, but a small bracelet she’s hidden there, the only remaining memento of her son. Barely alive when she reaches Lighthouse Bay, she’s cared for by Matthew, the lighthouse keeper, who buries the mace after Isabella retrieves the bracelet. Isabella, desperate to travel to America to be with her sister, adopts an alias to avoid detection and finds work as a nanny for a local family whose son was born on the same date as her late child. She hopes to earn enough money for her passage, but her plans are delayed. In a slightly less interesting account and over 100 years later, Libby Slater, distraught over the death of her married lover, returns to her hometown and settles into a cottage adjacent to the same lighthouse that once was a haven to Isabella. Libby’s dead lover, Mark, was Arthur Winterbourne’s great-grandnephew. Her sister, Juliet, runs a B&B nearby, but the two are estranged because of a tragedy that occurred 20 years earlier. Libby’s unsure about her future, but she accepts work from Mark’s widow and considers an offer that would make her quite wealthy, a proposal she knows will put her at further odds with her sister. Smoothly transitioning between the two tales, Freeman establishes a believable link between Isabella and Libby and allows each storyline to play out to a reasonable resolution.

And although her attempt to build suspense is weak, the author’s description of the beautiful Australian coastline will linger with readers long after they finish the book.

Pub Date: April 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4516-7279-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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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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