What can you say when French rationalists take this pancake-batter to heart? Will moviemad, dough-brained Americans do...

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IF ONLY IT WERE TRUE

First novel, a bestseller in France at 160,000 copies: a variation on the love-after-death story that made the film Ghost so popular.

ER intern Lauren Kline has a road accident, her old Triumph skidding on rain-greasy asphalt, and winds up back at her own San Francisco hospital in what looks like an irreversible grade-four coma. She lies abed for six months before her detached spirit, visiting the old apartment kept up by her mother, meets its new tenant. Arthur, an architect who has just been sent packing by his girlfriend, opens a closet one day, and finds Lauren’s spirit just sitting there. She’s been wandering around for the past half year, and she’s quite lonely because no one sees her. But Arthur does; he can even touch her. Gosh, what could possibly happen after this meet-cute? Well, it does. Arthur and Lauren become lovers in romantic San Francisco. But Arthur’s best friend, Paul, thinks his buddy is bonkers, especially when he gets roped into helping Arthur kidnap Lauren’s body from the hospital when her mother decides to pull the plug and let her die. (Presumably, this would not be good for Lauren’s new love-life.) The story's best scene is the hospital kidnapping, with Arthur in a doctor’s jacket being called to help out a dying diabetic. The rest, set on Carmel’s oceanside, is flower-strewn, lyrical, and immensely predictable. Levy’s prose is no better than his plotting: his informational sentences display almost no sense of the urgencies of language or strivings for expression.

What can you say when French rationalists take this pancake-batter to heart? Will moviemad, dough-brained Americans do likewise? Projected gross: $$$.

Pub Date: April 9, 2000

ISBN: 0-7434-0617-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

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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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