An action-packed romance at sea that many readers will enjoy.

READ REVIEW

ONCE A SCOUNDREL

It’s a pirate’s life for her—and that’s not a good thing.

In seeking a life of freedom away from British society, Lady Aurora Lawrence finds herself in a seemingly inescapable trap: She’s been kidnapped by Barbary pirate Malek Reis and added to a harem as she waits to see whether her family will pay Malek’s massive ransom demands. Rory's family has long given up on making a respectable woman of her, but her mother nevertheless seeks to hire a rescuer who might have a chance of saving her from a life in chains. Gabriel Hawkins is exactly whom she needs: He’s of noble birth, but after having been kicked out of the Royal Navy, he’s needed to make a living any way he can and is familiar with the not-so-legal side of the high seas. Gabriel quickly finds Rory on the Barbary Coast but soon learns that it won’t be easy to negotiate her ransom, as Malek may actually need to sell her in order to rescue his own wife and children, who are being held hostage by his evil cousin. So, despite their chemistry and proximity, the pair must resist temptation, because preserving Rory’s virginity could be the only way both will make it back to London safely. The story is lengthy and complex, with a few stumbles—because of the setting, Putney (Once a Rebel, 2017, etc.) walks a thin line between cultural sensitivity and the occasional stereotype, and some readers may be uncomfortable with the portrayal of life in harems even though the story takes pains to make its main characters three-dimensional. Like the first two books in Putney’s Rogues Redeemed series, this one is full of suspense, including battles at sea and a daring underground rescue, and fans of the action in earlier entries are likely to enjoy this volume as well. However, Rory and Gabriel’s immediate attraction combined with a charming subplot of a second love story ensure that romance carries the day.

An action-packed romance at sea that many readers will enjoy.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4201-4096-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Zebra/Kensington

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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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