Will delight Kleypas fans even if it leaves them wanting more.

CHASING CASSANDRA

From the Ravenels series , Vol. 6

Can instant attraction become something more for a ruthless railway magnate with a frozen heart?

Tom Severin has fought tooth and nail to raise himself up from the slums of London. His razor-sharp intellect, cunning, and photographic memory have helped him win great political and financial power, even over the noblemen who would sooner spit on him than do business with him. Having proved himself, he feels an inchoate longing for something new, something more. When he overhears a distraught Lady Cassandra Ravenel mourn her failure on the marriage mart, Tom volunteers himself. He’s never been so instantly attracted to anyone in his life and wonders if possessing this beautiful woman might be his ticket out of boredom. Cassandra knows that Tom, a family friend who has appeared in earlier installments of the series, is notoriously devoid of normal human emotion. Unlike the other professionally ambitious heroines in the series, sweet Cassandra wants a conventionally happy domestic life, and she doubts Tom is capable of true love even if she does relish stolen moments with him that set her blood on fire. When his usual tactics fail to win Cassandra, Tom tries to forget her, but “memories of her kept catching at the edge of his consciousness, sparkling like a tenacious strand of Christmas tinsel stuck in the carpet.” A sexual assault late in the novel threatens to destroy Cassandra’s life and reputation, bringing them back together. Despite Kleypas’ (Devil’s Daughter, 2019, etc.) trademark witty banter, fun cameos from previous couples in the series, and two likable protagonists, pacing is an issue. The romance stops and starts, the middle sags, and Tom and Cassandra do not spend enough time together for their love to be entirely convincing.

Will delight Kleypas fans even if it leaves them wanting more.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-237194-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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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A compulsively readable account of a little-known yet extraordinary historical figure—Lawhon’s best book to date.

CODE NAME HÉLÈNE

A historical novel explores the intersection of love and war in the life of Australian-born World War II heroine Nancy Grace Augusta Wake.

Lawhon’s (I Was Anastasia, 2018, etc.) carefully researched, lively historical novels tend to be founded on a strategic chronological gambit, whether it’s the suspenseful countdown to the landing of the Hindenberg or the tale of a Romanov princess told backward and forward at once. In her fourth novel, she splits the story of the amazing Nancy Wake, woman of many aliases, into two interwoven strands, both told in first-person present. One begins on Feb. 29th, 1944, when Wake, code-named Hélène by the British Special Operations Executive, parachutes into Vichy-controlled France to aid the troops of the Resistance, working with comrades “Hubert” and “Denden”—two of many vividly drawn supporting characters. “I wake just before dawn with a full bladder and the uncomfortable realization that I am surrounded on all sides by two hundred sex-starved Frenchmen,” she says. The second strand starts eight years earlier in Paris, where Wake is launching a career as a freelance journalist, covering early stories of the Nazi rise and learning to drink with the hardcore journos, her purse-pooch Picon in her lap. Though she claims the dog “will be the great love of [her] life,” she is about to meet the hunky Marseille-based industrialist Henri Fiocca, whose dashing courtship involves French 75 cocktails, unexpected appearances, and a drawn-out seduction. As always when going into battle, even the ones with guns and grenades, Nancy says “I wear my favorite armor…red lipstick.” Both strands offer plenty of fireworks and heroism as they converge to explain all. The author begs forgiveness in an informative afterword for all the drinking and swearing. Hey! No apologies necessary!

A compulsively readable account of a little-known yet extraordinary historical figure—Lawhon’s best book to date.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-385-54468-9

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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