Readers who enjoy detailed worldbuilding and secondary character development will like this story. Those who prefer a faster...

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EVERY BRIDE HAS HER DAY

In this Southern contemporary, a surly NYPD narcotics detective hides away in small-town Georgia after an investigation ends badly, only to find himself reluctantly drawn to his florist neighbor.

Austin (The Best Laid Wedding Plans, 2015, etc.) brings an entire cast of quirky characters to life in the second installment of her Magnolia Brides series. The run-down house Sam DeLuca inherited from his great-aunt in Misty Bottoms, Georgia, offers the perfect excuse for him to lie low while he recuperates from a gunshot wound, until his neighbor Cricket O’Malley bangs on his front door and accuses him of trespassing. Cricket is also new in town. But unlike Sam, she plans to put down roots, starting with the opening of her shop, the Enchanted Florist. Still tormented by his last case and knowing he will ultimately return to New York, Sam struggles against his growing feelings for Cricket and his affection for the eccentric residents of Misty Bottoms. And Cricket knows she would be better off finding someone else. But while the story’s premise offers the potential for an exciting emotional conflict, the plot frequently gets bogged down by subplots involving a large cast of secondary characters whose purpose in the story is not always clear. The book includes everything from a lovable stray dog to a charming eccentric with a rusty truck. Austin is clearly attempting to make readers fall in love with the fictional town where the series takes place, but, unfortunately, all the extra details come at the expense of Sam and Cricket’s story. Readers may find themselves feeling more impatient than charmed.

Readers who enjoy detailed worldbuilding and secondary character development will like this story. Those who prefer a faster pace and more focus on the main characters should skip it.

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4926-1800-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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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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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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