Harte hits the romance but slightly misses the mark with other elements of the story.

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THE ONLY THING

During a spat with her mother, Hope Donnigan drops a comment about her completely inappropriate boyfriend—who doesn’t actually exist—then convinces an acquaintance to fill the role, surprising them both when they actually fall for each other.

Hope and J.T. Webster have a thing for each other, which they don’t realize they share. But when Hope has dinner with her family and her mother berates her about her job, her clothes, and her lack of a relationship, she responds with the news that she’s dating a man who, she knows, will press all her mother’s buttons, most pertinent of which is that he’s a tattoo artist. J.T., the son of her aunt’s partner, is a tattoo artist, so she convinces him to pose as her boyfriend to prove the point that her mother is a snob. However, as they spend time together in order to make a believable couple, their natural attraction comes into play. There are a slew of reasons to ignore it—the many intertwining connections between their families, J.T.’s history as a lady’s man, their growing friendship that would be damaged if things went awry—but they fall into a sexual relationship, telling themselves it’s a friends with benefits situation. However, Hope has a creepy, unknown stalker, and J.T. finds a protective streak he never knew he had, his first hint of deeper feelings. Harte continues the hypersexy, interconnected tangle of Donnigans and McCauley series relationships, and while she hits her typical sweet spot of sexy and emotional, the main characters’ denial lasts a bit too long, and the wrap-up of the stalker storyline comes across as contrived.

Harte hits the romance but slightly misses the mark with other elements of the story.

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3191-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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