A pleasant read with no major surprises, the novel profits from the author’s skill at illuminating the most profound (and...

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SOMEONE TO LOVE

An unexpected patrimony leads a young woman to love and family in this first installment of a new series by the beloved Regency romance author.

An orphanage in Bath has been Anna Snow's home since she was left there as a toddler by a shadowy figure. She is largely content with living and working there as a schoolteacher now, partly supported by an unknown benefactor’s stipend. Like her fellow orphans, though, she has always weaved stories of her origins, and the best one—wealth and status—suddenly comes true when she finds out that she is the daughter of the recently deceased Earl of Riverdale, born during a secret early marriage. Yet Anna, who learns that her name is Anastasia Westcott, longs most for familial affection, which seems impossible to gain from her newly discovered half siblings, who have been suddenly disinherited. Balogh (Unforgiven, 2016, etc.) specializes in romance novels that both accept the essential solitude of the human condition and offer love as a stalwart companion; here, Anna has Avery Archer, the Duke of Netherby, to help her in this balancing act. Netherby is an unusual romance hero in that he is a man of beauty with a physical stature that evokes Asian martial artists rather than the anachronistically muscled men often found in the subgenre. Anna is initially wary of his aura of refined nonchalance but finds him to be a true friend as she struggles to learn her aristocratic duties and searches for allies in her new role. Netherby is taken aback by his own attraction to the woman he had pegged as a rube but whose simplicity and dignity slowly amplify her loveliness in his eyes.

A pleasant read with no major surprises, the novel profits from the author’s skill at illuminating the most profound (and burdensome) of human desires—to love and be loved.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-451-47779-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Signet

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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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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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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