Often overdone and irritating but also engaging and charismatic, so it will find its crowd of admirers.

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THERE'S WILD, THEN THERE'S YOU

Social worker and perennial helpmate Violet does her best friend a favor and winds up in the laser-sharp sights of local rocker Jet, just where she wants to be but fighting it all the way.

When Violet shows up at an addiction meeting just to give her BFF Tia moral support, she meets Jet, who maneuvers her into acting as his sponsor and keeps her at his side as he works through his addictions, previous bad behavior and a fledgling music career—all the while keeping a horrible secret to himself, one that would surely drive Violet away if she knew. Violet, good girl extraordinaire and first-class square, falls into an uneasy friendship with the rich, sexy, rock-star playboy, keeping the fact that she’s not an addict to herself. They inch closer to a sexual relationship, which it’s clear he wants, but she is morally conflicted, until all the truths come out and everyone is devastated. Best-selling author Leighton knows how to write sexual tension and conflict, and it’s clear why she has such a following. However, without exactly being clichéd, the book is unrealistic in annoying ways. Jet is a sexy rock star. Violet’s mom was a rock groupie. Violet won’t tell Jet the truth, which, for a social worker, seems both unethical and ludicrous. Jet won’t tell Violet the truth, and the truth is really pretty despicable, so despite how much he complains to himself and calls himself names, it doesn’t do much to engender our sympathy and makes us furious at him in the end. Violet is a really sweet person, but she comes across as a doormat. Tia is a narcissistic witch through most of the book, and Violet’s dad is a pathetic drunk. But suddenly, in the end, due to all the trials and tribulations of Jet and Violet, everyone changes his or her ways. Still, there’s enough edgy sexiness and seductive storytelling to find an audience.

Often overdone and irritating but also engaging and charismatic, so it will find its crowd of admirers.

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-425-26782-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

OUTFOX

An FBI agent is determined to catch a man who bilks and murders wealthy women, but the chase goes slowly.

Brown (Tailspin, 2018, etc.) has published 70 bestsellers, and this one employs her usual template of thriller spiked with romance. Its main character, Drex Easton, is an FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer, but for him it’s personal. When he was a boy, his mother left him and his father for another man, Weston Graham. Drex believes Graham murdered her and that he has killed at least seven more women after emptying their bank accounts. Now he thinks he has the clever Graham—current alias Jasper Ford—in his sights, and he’s willing to put his career at risk to catch him. The women Ford targets are wealthy, and his new prey is no exception—except that, uncharacteristically, he has married her. Talia Ford proves to be a complication for Drex, who instantly falls in lust with her even though he’s not at all sure she isn’t her husband's accomplice. Posing as a would-be novelist, Drex moves into an apartment next door to the Fords’ posh home and tries to ingratiate himself, but tensions rise immediately—Jasper is suspicious, and Talia has mixed feelings about Drex's flirtatious behavior. When Talia’s fun-loving friend Elaine Conner turns up dead after a cruise on her yacht and Jasper disappears, Drex and Talia become allies. There are a few action sequences and fewer sex scenes, but the novel’s pace bogs down repeatedly in long, mundane conversations. Drex's two FBI agent sidekicks are more interesting characters than he is; Drex himself is such a caricature of a macho man, so heedless of ethics, and so aggressive toward women that it’s tough to see him as a good guy. Brown adds a couple of implausible twists at the very end that make him seem almost as untrustworthy as Graham.

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7219-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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MERCY

Despite kilt-wearing characters right out of Brigadoon, Picoult (Picture Perfect, 1995, etc.) persuasively explores a mercy killing in a small Massachusetts town and the subject of spouses who love too much. Wheelock has been home to the tradition-upholding MacDonalds and their hereditary chieftains since the 18th century, when the clan fled Scotland after the British defeated them in battle. Each clan chief has inherited more responsibilities over time, and the current laird Cam MacDonald is, like his father before him, the local chief of police. Cam yearns to travel and, though married, finds wife Allie's devotion stifling. Allie, a florist, has in turn suppressed all of her own opinions and pleasures for the sake of making Cam, whom she adores, happy. As the story begins, another MacDonald, James, has demonstrated his overwhelming love for wife Maggie in a very extreme form: James turns himself in to cousin Cam after admitting that he has smothered Maggie at her request because she was terminally ill with cancer and could no longer stand the pain. While the quality and wisdom of James's devotion to his wife will be tried in public, Allie's love for Cam will also be tested as free spirit Mia arrives in town. Mia has been everywhere and seen all the places Cam dreams of; she is also a whiz with flowers and gets immediately hired by Allie. While Allie helps James's lawyer find witnesses who will attest to his devotion to Maggie (he's now being tried for murder), Cam and Mia have an affair. A heartsick Allie learns of it, throws Cam out, sells all of his belongings, and then tries to forget him. But true love is resilient, and Allie, like James, having learned the price of being ``the one who loves more,'' will now try for greater balance. Overly predictable characters aside, Picoult does manage this time to bring trendy, headline-grabbing themes to life. (Literary Guild alternate selection)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 1996

ISBN: 0-399-14160-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1996

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