Some sizzle, some fizzle, some ick.

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RUGGED TEXAS COWBOY

Two Texas business partners find passion and love in unexpected places and turn from confirmed bachelors to dedicated mates.

Two linked short novels previously published in e-format come together for the first time in this quick, hot read. In The Cowboy and the Captive, partners Luc Jardin and Jack Riley agree to fly a woman named Maria Caterina Angeles and a mysterious box from South America to California for lots of money and the promise of sex. After things get violent and the box turns out to contain drugs, Luc swears vengeance and kidnaps Maria—with her brother’s blessing—to teach her a lesson and try to get her clean. The woman who winds up on his ranch swears she’s Maria’s twin, Melina. She’s definitely not a drug addict and is nothing like the conniving woman they met before, and Luc is incredibly attracted to her. Melina is the woman for him, but vindictive, down-spiraling Maria would rather see her sister dead than happy. Later, in The Cowboy and the Thief, Jack finds his own forever love when a trip to Ireland introduces him to the prim Angel Manning. After her father sells Jack a family heirloom she considers hers, she follows him to Texas to get it back. Legend has it the ancient Celtic torque has mystical matchmaking powers, and while Angel believes she’s retrieving her family’s legacy, she’s actually finding her mate and unleashing her sensual nature. Author Leigh is known for sizzling erotic romance, and these stories offer some scorching sex scenes. The romance never develops as well as the sex, however, and both stories demand a lot of hard-to-swallow suspension of disbelief. Also, in Captive, there are so many squeamish aspects to Melina’s back story and the couple’s introduction that it’s hard to enjoy their road to love.

Some sizzle, some fizzle, some ick.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-15087-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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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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