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VANESSA JARED'S GOT A MAN

Smooth and competent.

Two years after her divorce, a woman finds love with a small-town sheriff.

Vanessa Jared spent 20 years married to Karl Scott, a controlling and emotionally abusive man. Vanessa has moved on—made new friends, spent years in therapy, invested her divorce settlement wisely—but she still isn’t ready to dip her toe into the dating pool. One day, she’s approached by Michael Park, a handsome man with a big ask. His sister Cindy is newly engaged to Karl, and Michael can tell Karl is trouble. Michael asks Vanessa to share the story of her marriage with Cindy. He is aware his meddling might cause a rift with his sister, but he’ll do anything to save her from an unhappy future. Vanessa agrees to help only if Michael will recover her grandmother’s engagement ring, which Karl stole from her after their divorce was final. A confluence of mishaps leaves Vanessa stranded in town with literally no room at the inn, so Michael offers his spare room while they wait for his sister to return from a business trip. The complicated setup then goes on hiatus while the story focuses on Vanessa’s journey of self-renewal as she discovers the joys of small-town life while falling in love with Michael. This is a novel that promotes empowerment for women: Vanessa is a likable character who has learned to take care of herself, while Michael has to learn to let go and let his sister be in charge of her own life. Even though the external emotional stakes are high for both Vanessa and Michael, the novel is warm and comforting with very little conflict between them.

Smooth and competent.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-2507-7339-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: July 6, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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THE RULE BOOK

Haphazard and undemanding.

A sports agent’s first official client is the man she dumped years ago in college.

After two years of hard work as an underling, Nora Mackenzie is finally being promoted to full-time sports agent. She’s worked hard, kept quiet, and allowed men in the office to call her Mac—a nickname she hates—all to show she’s a team player and “one of the guys.” Unfortunately, her boss instructs her to sign Derek Pender, a football player coming off an injury, who happens to be the man she heartlessly dumped in their senior year of college. Derek signs with her for revenge, seeing it as his opportunity to pay Nora back for callously breaking his heart eight years earlier. He insists she be at his beck and call: answering his emails, running his errands, cooking dinner for his dates. He also refuses to let her explain why she broke up with him without warning or explanation. Nora feels she has no choice but to acquiesce to Derek’s humiliating demands, since she’s worked too hard to let him ruin her dream job. She hopes he’ll thaw and they might become friends, but Derek’s bad behavior is designed to hide the fact that he’s still in love with her. Nora’s characterization is uneven, veering between anger at how she’s treated in the male-dominated field to immature bickering and bantering with Derek. Although Adams likely meant for Derek and Nora’s interactions to have an enemies-to-lovers vibe, the characters instead seem juvenile and stuck in the past. The novel is fueled by a string of tropes—second chance romance! married in Vegas! only one bed!—each randomly deployed to keep the book going despite thin characterization and wan plotting.

Haphazard and undemanding.

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9780593723678

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dell

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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BRIDE

Sink your teeth into this delightful paranormal romance with a modern twist.

A vampire and an Alpha werewolf enter into a marriage of convenience in order to ease tensions between their species.

As the only daughter of a prominent Vampyre councilman, Misery Lark has grown accustomed to playing the role that’s demanded of her—and now, her father is ordering her to be part of yet another truce agreement. In an effort to maintain goodwill between the Vampyres and their longtime nemeses the Weres, Misery must wed their Alpha, Lowe Moreland. But it turns out that Misery has her own motivations for agreeing to this political marriage, including finding answers about what happened to her best friend, who went missing after setting up a meeting in Were territory. Isolated from her kind and surrounded on all sides by the enemy after the wedding, Misery refuses to let herself forget about her real mission. It doesn’t matter that Lowe is one of the most confounding and intense people she’s ever met, or that the connection building between them doesn’t feel like one born entirely of convenience. There’s also the possibility that Lowe may already have a Were mate of his own, but in spite of their biological differences, they may turn out to be the missing piece in each other’s lives. While this is Hazelwood’s first paranormal romance, and the book does lean on some hallmark tropes of the genre, the contemporary setting lends itself to the author’s trademark humor and makes the political plot more easily digestible. Misery and Lowe’s slow-burn romance is appealing enough that readers will readily devour every moment between them and hunger to return to them whenever the story diverts from their scenes together.

Sink your teeth into this delightful paranormal romance with a modern twist.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9780593550403

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023

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