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ONCE A SCOUNDREL

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

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. 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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SEEING RED

As the plot grows more complicated, it also sheds believability, leaving sex and witty banter to carry the day.

Brown (Mean Streak, 2014, etc.) ticks off the boxes that elevate her books to the bestseller lists in this sexy romantic thriller set in Texas.

Rock-jawed hero with a dark past: check. Strong-willed, beautiful woman who resists his charms: check. A Whitman’s Sampler of bad guys: check. And finally, a convoluted and not always plausible plot: check. In this latest outing, readers meet TV journalist Kerra Bailey, whose family was torn apart years ago by a hotel bombing that killed 197 people in Dallas. Just in time for the 25th anniversary, Kerra scores an interview with the notoriously private Maj. Trapper, who saved her life, among others, when he emerged from the blast to lead the survivors out of danger. There's an iconic, prizewinning photo of the major carrying a little girl from the wreckage, but the child has never been identified—until now, when Kerra goes public with the information that it was her. Just after they finish filming the interview in his home, the major is shot, and an injured Kerra escapes in the confusion. The major’s son, disgraced Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent John Trapper—a name M*A*S*H fans will appreciate—steps in, igniting a chain of events that leads to murder, intrigue, betrayal, and a series of dark revelations. As with most of Brown’s heroes and heroines, there’s palpable sexual tension between Trapper, whose taut rear occupies ample literary real estate, and Kerra, who when dealing with Trapper feels “like he’d lightly scratched her just below her bellybutton” when he’s not making her “pleasure points throb.” The complex plot plays out in a round of reveals that don’t always make a lot of sense, but that’s not why Brown’s fans read her books. They check in for the witty, pitch-perfect dialogue and fluid writing. A master of her genre, Brown knows how to please her most ardent readers but relies too often on the same basic formula from novel to novel.

As the plot grows more complicated, it also sheds believability, leaving sex and witty banter to carry the day.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7210-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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ON MYSTIC LAKE

Hannah, after eight paperbacks, abandons her successful time-travelers for a hardcover life of kitchen-sink romance. Everyone must have got the Olympic Peninsula memo for this spring because, as of this reading, authors Hannah, Nora Roberts, and JoAnn Ross have all placed their newest romances in or near the Quinault rain forest. Here, 40ish Annie Colwater, returns to Washington State after her husband, high-powered Los Angeles lawyer Blake, tells her he’s found another (younger) woman and wants a divorce. Although a Stanford graduate, Annie has known only a life of perfect wifedom: matching Blake’s ties to his suits and cooking meals from Gourmet magazine. What is she to do with her shattered life? Well, she returns to dad’s house in the small town of Mystic, cuts off all her hair (for a different look), and goes to work as a nanny for lawman Nick Delacroix, whose wife has committed suicide, whose young daughter Izzy refuses to speak, and who himself has descended into despair and alcoholism. Annie spruces up Nick’s home on Mystic Lake and sends “Izzy-bear” back into speech mode. And, after Nick begins attending AA meetings, she and he become lovers. Still, when Annie learns that she’s pregnant not with Nick’s but with Blake’s child, she heads back to her empty life in the Malibu Colony. The baby arrives prematurely, and mean-spirited Blake doesn’t even stick around to support his wife. At this point, it’s perfectly clear to Annie—and the reader—that she’s justified in taking her newborn daughter and driving back north. Hannah’s characters indulge in so many stages of the weeps, from glassy eyes to flat-out sobs, that tear ducts are almost bound to stay dry. (First printing of 100,000; first serial to Good Housekeeping; Literary Guild/Doubleday book club selections)

Pub Date: March 31, 1999

ISBN: 0-609-60249-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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