Insufficient copy editing and unconventional organization overshadow this story’s raw emotion.

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The Torch Bearer's Exorcism

Varela Tychsen (Spanish Angst, 2007) offers a harrowing tale of a one-sided love affair.

Cherie, the narrator of this story, has just started college, where she’s elated to escape her abusive, demeaning parents. She soon meets David, with whom she feels an instant connection, and the two become physically involved. However, his failure to acknowledge their relationship publicly is troubling to her. As time goes on, she has reason to doubt his commitment (and monogamy), until she’s ultimately forced to confront his indifference to her feelings. Along the way, she suffers emotional damage because of her attachment to him. The story also offers vignettes of other time periods in Cherie’s life, which describe other damaging incidents, often in great detail. In many ways, this book is a bold exercise that abandons some traditional writing conventions, such as straightforward chronology and chapter organization. The frequent spelling errors, however, detract from that experimental quality (“Sharon ought to wear a bag over her head because the site of her was nauseating”). Also, the author inserts strange, black-and-white images into the text at unpredictable intervals, which sometimes occupy several pages. The narrative moves back and forth between time periods with little cohesion, with the sole common thematic element being the narrator’s mistreatment and misfortune. Varela Tychsen’s cryptic disclaimer does little to explain the novel’s autobiographical tone, as she asserts that this is “a work of fiction….I just want to be clear that this is not an autobiography or a biography; though the stories in it are indeed true and it is wholly written from the heart.”

Insufficient copy editing and unconventional organization overshadow this story’s raw emotion.  

Pub Date: June 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5246-3634-0

Page Count: 226

Publisher: AuthorHouseUK

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2016

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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 romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

THE DECEPTION

A successful businesswoman hires a smooth-talking bounty hunter to find a lead on her sister’s murder.

Kate Gallagher was the only one available to identify her younger sister Chrissy’s body after she was found dead, having run away from home two years earlier. Since Chrissy succumbed to drugs and turned to sex work to survive, her murder isn't taken seriously by the local homicide department. Kate is filled with grief and regret at not having been there for her sister, and she’s determined to find her killer as a kind of penance. Jason Maddox is the charming man Kate almost hooked up with at a local bar. He also happens to be on the payroll of the most successful investigation company in Dallas. He’s all too eager to help Kate out and spend more time getting to know the blonde he danced with at the Sagebrush Saloon. At first, Kate and Jason vow to keep things professional until the case is solved; there’s obvious attraction that they’re willing to pursue at a later date. But the increasing sense of danger mixed with Kate and Jason’s close proximity proves to be too heady of a combination. The tension never lets up as the pair visit seedy bars and interrogate unsavory characters. With a steamy romance and undeniably hot chemistry, the main characters are well matched. They’re both driven, slightly stubborn, and enjoy the adrenaline rush of catching criminals. Martin (The Conspiracy, 2019, etc.) doesn’t skimp on graphic, violent details as Chrissy’s murder leads her couple to something much bigger: human trafficking. Though not for the faint of heart given its weighty material, this is an un-put-down-able page-turner that’s sure to satisfy fans of romance and thrillers alike.

A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-335-00769-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin HQN

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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