For readers who enjoy watching lovers conquer trauma and fans of the series who would like to revisit characters from the...

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SOMEONE TO TRUST

A widow who survived an abusive marriage is afraid to choose love, especially with a younger man grappling with his own childhood sorrows.

In the fifth installment of Balogh’s Westcott series, the widowed Lady Elizabeth Overfield and Colin Handrich, Baron Hodges, who's her brother's brother-in-law, intend to be just friends. After all, she's nine years older than him, and they each have sensible plans for marriage—she is considering the proposal of an older gentleman while he is being paired with a young debutante. Yet neither of those relationships contains the mix of easy conversation and erotic attraction that Elizabeth and Colin experience with each other. Nevertheless, they are determined to make practical matrimonial decisions. An ugly public episode in which her fiance baselessly accuses them of impropriety, however, persuades them that levelheaded betrothals no more guarantee marital bliss than love condemns one to loss. While Elizabeth's family is taken aback by her decision to marry Colin, they offer their support. The obstacle is Colin's mother, introduced in Someone to Wed (2017), a scheming narcissist who refuses to age gracefully. Balogh presents her as an unnatural contrast to our heroine’s dignified matronhood. This structure is an unfortunate throwback to old-school romances that resorted to a misogynistic virgin/seductress dichotomy. Indeed, the romance here is overshadowed by the time devoted to vilifying Colin's mother, who has a lover and many youthful beaux. This dilutes the story's romantic intensity, as does the slow pace and the overlong family Christmas celebration that starts the book.

For readers who enjoy watching lovers conquer trauma and fans of the series who would like to revisit characters from the Westcott family.

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-58610-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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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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