A good beach read, with enough to discuss for a book club looking for lighter fare.

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THE STATUS OF ALL THINGS

Jilted the night before her wedding, Kate learns her fiance, Max, is in love with her co-worker and close friend, Courtney, and wishes she had seen the signs in time.

Liam and Jules have been Kate’s best friends since college, and they stand by her after her aborted wedding. Jittery and confused, Kate can’t resist checking her Facebook page, where dozens of congratulatory messages await her. She posts in her status, “I wish I could do the past month over.” When she wakes up the next morning, it’s a month earlier, Max is still with her, and she realizes she’s been given the power to wish for whatever she wants. Can she keep Max and Courtney from falling for each other? Can she also help Jules, whose long marriage has grown stale, and Liam, who has bounced from girlfriend to girlfriend, none of them quite right? Can she help her mother let go of her bitterness over her parents’ long-ago divorce? As she tries to ensure Max will be hers forever and those she loves will be happy, Kate begins to realize that nothing is really perfect and that life is ultimately beyond her control, even when she knows how things might turn out ahead of time. Fenton and Steinke (Your Perfect Life, 2014, etc.) veer into typecasting with some of the minor characters, such as Kate and Courtney’s superskinny, fashion-forward, demanding boss and Liam’s starlet girlfriend fresh from rehab and primed for a new scandal. The lessons Kate learns are nothing new, either. But the friendships at the heart of the story are realistic, the descriptions of affluent Southern California are deliciously escapist, and the be-careful-what-you-wish-for message is not overbearing.

A good beach read, with enough to discuss for a book club looking for lighter fare.

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4767-6341-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Washington Square/Pocket

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 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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