Meacham's fans—and she has many—will be glad for this prequel.



Of teary eyes and torn crinoline: an appropriately big Texas saga by homegrown romance maven Meacham (Tumbleweeds, 2012, etc.).

The sins of the fathers are visited upon the children. Or maybe the other way around, since this book covers the generations before the Warwicks and Tolivers donned Ralph Lauren, before their Dallas dust-ups in Roses (2010). Meacham’s steamy prequel opens in Tidewater country, where young Jessica is pitching a wobbly because—well, because the pressure is on to do right by the paterfamilias and marry well onto some rich plantation, the ethical niceties of human bondage notwithstanding. Quoth she, in language befitting a coarser but more modern version of Gone with the Wind, “I’d rather copulate with a mule than a slave owner.” It takes many pages before Miss Jessica bestirs herself for the westward movement and Manifest Destiny, for a vast landscape fussed and feuded over by stalwart Jeremy Warwick and Silas Toliver. Well, you can't settle a frontier or found an empire without breaking eggs, and Meacham's latest is littered with broken shells—most of them broken at just the right moment and not haphazardly, but always with the opportunity for bosoms to heave into view. Meacham writes skillfully, if never stretching the bounds of the historical romance genre; readers expecting a yarn of the Lonesome Dove school will find that they're in Barbara Cartland territory instead. (Miss Jessie, after all, belongs not to the local chapter of the Texas Rangers auxiliary but to a book club.) Still, Meacham writes competently, if without much flair, and her tale delivers what it sets out to do: Namely, it’s a historical oater with oodles of emotion, rent hearts, sundered friendships and fierce Comanches. And does Ms. Jessie ever get around to bedding down with an anti-abolitionist? There’s the question.

Meacham's fans—and she has many—will be glad for this prequel.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4555-4738-8

Page Count: 624

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.


Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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A sweeping romantic tale of thwarted love.


Sixty years after her first love failed to meet her in a market square, Roya Khanom Archer finally has the chance to see him. But will he break her heart again?

Back in 1953, she was a 17-year-old schoolgirl, raised in a progressive home in Tehran, where her father encouraged Roya and her sister, Zari, to take advantage of the recent reforms that allowed women to go to university. While he hoped she might become a chemist, Roya loved escaping into novels, which sent her to Mr. Fakhri’s stationery and book store every Tuesday afternoon. There she first sees Bahman Aslan, a breathless young man already well-known as a political activist. Kamali (Together Tea, 2013) sets Roya and Bahman’s love against the tumultuous days of Mohammad Mossadegh’s rise and fall as prime minister of Iran, infusing their affair with political passion and an increasingly frantic sense of the shortness of time. Tuesday after Tuesday, the couple falls more deeply in love, and Bahman soon proposes marriage to Roya. While Roya’s family welcomes Bahman—although Zari warns Roya that his heart cannot be trusted—Bahman’s emotionally volatile mother refuses to accept the engagement, because she has already chosen Shahla, the daughter of a man closely allied with the shah, for her son. Roya determines to weather her future mother-in-law’s storms, but when Bahman and his family disappear, she can only turn to Mr. Fakhri for help. Although he cannot tell Roya where Bahman has gone, Mr. Fakhri offers to exchange secret letters between the lovers. The plan works, and the two even plan to elope, but Bahman does not show up in Sepah Square. Sixty years later, Bahman’s confession will finally expose the secrets that cast shadows over the lovers so long ago.

A sweeping romantic tale of thwarted love.

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9821-0748-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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