Despite a few stumbling blocks, a page-turner with as much grit as the Texas countryside.

READ REVIEW

Sign of Redemption

In Trow’s unsettling debut, a morally ambiguous man discovers that the straight and narrow is a rocky road at best.

Richard C. Harrison is an innocent man, an ex-CPA, serving a 20-year sentence in an East Texas “prison farm” because he happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time—an unwitting accomplice to an armed robbery executed by his half brother, Pete. Life drifts along aimlessly until Harrison meets the gorgeous Elizabeth McKenna, an attorney who has been assigned a fellow prisoner’s case. Even if the talented lawyer visits the compound only once, she haunts Harrison’s every waking minute and more importantly, gives him a renewed purpose. Escaping from prison, he lands in the warm embrace of a drug-dealing family and changes his name to Joe Travis. While serving as the drug dealers’ gofer, the newly reinvented Travis plots a way to McKenna’s heart and home in Austin. Uncomfortably creepy? Certainly. For her part, McKenna alternates between fascination and fear of this poetry-spewing man who seems to harbor some decency under a very tortured exterior. Unfortunately, she gets sucked into the maelstrom of his increasingly unstable and dangerous moves until things go careening off the edge. Trow’s portrait of a train wreck of a man battling his baser impulses is as curiously mesmerizing as it is revolting. McKenna’s motivations also feel real and understandable, if not always commendable. Unfortunately, the supplemental characters who pepper the narrative—criminal Deep Eddy, drug dealer Early—stick out like cardboard cutouts serving only to move the story along. Also, the storyline can lurch abruptly, leaving some subplots unresolved. Finally, Harrison’s conveniently flawed memory is a construct a little too neat to be wholly believable. Still, it’s no mean feat to write a compelling novel based on characters who are difficult to like, yet Trow more or less pulls it off.

Despite a few stumbling blocks, a page-turner with as much grit as the Texas countryside.

Pub Date: June 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-68003-030-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Texas Review Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2015

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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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