Great for fans of history, romance, and some good old Texas grit.

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TEXAS REDEMPTION

In an East Texas town called Redemption, actual redemption doesn’t come easy.

Laurel James has finally escaped her scandalous past to settle in the small town of Redemption, where she works in Ollie’s Café and is engaged to respectable Murphy Yates. Murphy doesn't know that during the Civil War, Laurel was abducted from her family by a villain named Will Taft and sold into prostitution in St. Louis. Known there as Lavender Lil, she did what she needed to in order to survive. Yet a Confederate spy named Shenandoah promised dreams of rescue before he disappeared and left her heartbroken. Now, in 1869, the man she once knew as Shenandoah has mysteriously reappeared. In fact, he is Murphy Yates’ brother, Brodie, and he holds the power to uncover Laurel’s disreputable past. Brodie is opposed to the marriage, of course, but he can’t say whether it’s because of Laurel’s deceit about her identity or his own buried feelings for the woman he left behind in St. Louis. He gives Laurel one week to break off the engagement to Murphy, with a veiled threat to expose her. Before she can come up with a plan, Murphy is shot during a bank robbery and comes dangerously close to death. Suddenly, both Brodie and Laurel feel a renewed loyalty to him, all the while embarking on an escapade to seek outlaws and knowledge of their own hearts. Author Broday’s charming mix of Texas vernacular, history, and storytelling, along with her earnest characters who care about family above all, makes this an enjoyable if somewhat long romantic adventure. The chemistry and attraction between Laurel and Brodie feels authentic, and their love scenes are fun and sensual, though at times they can get bogged down with clichéd language.

Great for fans of history, romance, and some good old Texas grit.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4644-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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Despite the false start, this heartwarming story sweetly balances friendship and mother-child bonding with romantic love.

WINDOW ON THE BAY

Macomber (Be a Blessing, 2019, etc.) threatens to set her latest beach read in Paris, but her characters have other plans.

Maureen Zelinski and Jenna Boltz have been friends since college. Years ago, their plans to go to Paris were thwarted when Maureen found out she was pregnant. Now that they’re both single mothers whose children have left the nest, the time is right to dust off their passports and try again. In a somewhat disappointing turn of events, Maureen and Jenna don’t make it to Paris just yet. Instead, they stay in Seattle and pursue new love interests. Jenna, a nurse, meets orthopedic surgeon Dr. Rowan Lancaster in the emergency room after her mother falls and hurts her hip. Maureen, against her better judgment, accepts a date with Logan, a union plumber who frequents the library where she works. Jenna is afraid to date a co-worker after her workplace romance with her ex failed, but when Rowan proves to be a good listener, she’s more willing to discuss her options. Maureen doesn’t think she’ll fit in with Logan and his beer-drinking buddies, but she’s surprised when she enjoys their date at a football game. Meanwhile, Jenna worries about her children, Allie and Paul, as they navigate college and life. Though the story is primarily told from the two mothers’ perspectives, Allie breaks into the narrative with a surprising connection to Rowan. Maureen’s daughter, Tori, also takes on the role of confidante. The happy endings (and potential travel plans) unfold with a touch of realism to contrast the idyllic backdrop of the Pacific Northwest.

Despite the false start, this heartwarming story sweetly balances friendship and mother-child bonding with romantic love.

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-18133-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

OUTFOX

An FBI agent is determined to catch a man who bilks and murders wealthy women, but the chase goes slowly.

Brown (Tailspin, 2018, etc.) has published 70 bestsellers, and this one employs her usual template of thriller spiked with romance. Its main character, Drex Easton, is an FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer, but for him it’s personal. When he was a boy, his mother left him and his father for another man, Weston Graham. Drex believes Graham murdered her and that he has killed at least seven more women after emptying their bank accounts. Now he thinks he has the clever Graham—current alias Jasper Ford—in his sights, and he’s willing to put his career at risk to catch him. The women Ford targets are wealthy, and his new prey is no exception—except that, uncharacteristically, he has married her. Talia Ford proves to be a complication for Drex, who instantly falls in lust with her even though he’s not at all sure she isn’t her husband's accomplice. Posing as a would-be novelist, Drex moves into an apartment next door to the Fords’ posh home and tries to ingratiate himself, but tensions rise immediately—Jasper is suspicious, and Talia has mixed feelings about Drex's flirtatious behavior. When Talia’s fun-loving friend Elaine Conner turns up dead after a cruise on her yacht and Jasper disappears, Drex and Talia become allies. There are a few action sequences and fewer sex scenes, but the novel’s pace bogs down repeatedly in long, mundane conversations. Drex's two FBI agent sidekicks are more interesting characters than he is; Drex himself is such a caricature of a macho man, so heedless of ethics, and so aggressive toward women that it’s tough to see him as a good guy. Brown adds a couple of implausible twists at the very end that make him seem almost as untrustworthy as Graham.

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7219-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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