A novel that defies categorization in both positive and negative ways, but it's sure never boring.

THE ALTOGETHER UNEXPECTED DISAPPEARANCE OF ATTICUS CRAFTSMAN

When a wealthy British publisher decides to fire the staff of his Spanish literary magazine, he sends his son to Madrid to deal with the mess. Chaos ensues.

Inspector Manchego (not his real name, but he likes the way it sounds) is hired by Marlow Craftsman to find his son, Atticus, who's been missing for nearly three months. What follows is a riotous, ridiculous farce of a novel; a work of literature that both pays homage to and makes great fun of classic literature and those who love it. The story is told through flashback as the mystery of Atticus’ disappearance, manufactured by the five fierce female friends who make up the staff of Librarte, is slowly explained and brought into the light. But the mystery is not the point; neither are the love stories, the dramatic reveal of a true literary inheritance, the menace of a piratical villain, the manifestations of Tolkien’s ghost, or the transformation of an uptight British family. It is a novel aswirl in chaos, color, friendship, and, above all, a love of literary tradition and the power of a good story. Unfortunately, this can also be overwhelming. For example, the sexual “explosion” at the end of the novel, while in keeping with good magical realist tradition, also falls somewhat flat as an ending. And the narrative voice can sometimes be more clever than authentically amusing, as in sentences like “The spirit of el duende, the mysterious imp everyone talked about, had seized control of his will to such a degree that he was starting to doubt his true intentions.” But there is no denying the energy and charm that set this novel apart from the pack. The most endearing legacy is the loyal friendship cultivated by the five women of Madrid. Their relationships ring true on the page in a way that the romantic moments sometimes do not.

A novel that defies categorization in both positive and negative ways, but it's sure never boring.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1885-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Roberts does it again with this fast-paced romantic mystery that's both steamy and thrilling, despite its somewhat obvious...

BLUE SMOKE

Beautiful Italian babe with a passion for fire and doomed hunks joins the arson squad and discovers that someone has held a torch for her since she was a child.

When Reena Hale is 11 years old, she watches her family's Baltimore pizzeria go up in flames. Thanks to a local arson detective, John Minger, and the girl's keen memory, police determine that a neighborhood crook whose young son had recently attacked Reena was out for revenge, and soon cops publicly haul the dirt bag off to jail. The large and loving Hale family bands together and rebuilds; Reena grows up curious about the origins of fire. She attends college and, after her boyfriend dies in an accident, joins the police force and learns the inner workings of the fire department. Eventually, she teams with Minger to solve the city's suspicious fires. Meanwhile, over the years, a shady character has been hiding in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to violently sabotage Reena's relationships (usually with the help of explosives). Somehow Reena doesn't put together that all of her boyfriends have been in the path of catastrophic (occasionally deadly) events, so her stalker hits the phone lines to clue her in with dirty messages that become more and more intimate. When Reena launches a torrid love affair with her new neighbor, whose truck soon explodes, she begins to get it. Fearing for her family's safety, Reena reopens past cases and learns that her troubles started when she was a child. The tale builds to a breathless climax as she (literally) races to beat out the flames of one fire before determining where the next one will be set.

Roberts does it again with this fast-paced romantic mystery that's both steamy and thrilling, despite its somewhat obvious nature.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2005

ISBN: 0-399-15306-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2005

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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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