GENTLE FROM THE NIGHT

McKinney (A Man to Slay Dragons, 1995, etc.) writes an old-fashioned gothic to which she adds a little S&M. On the bleak and misty Yorkshire moors lies the ancestral home of the Newells, Cairncross Castle, looking ``like a gargoyle crouched by the sea.'' It is here that Alexandra Benjamin comes to help and work with a 30-year-old man with the mind of a child. She is the daughter of a Jewish doctor (an ``infidel'') who specialized in audiology and taught Alex everything he knew. After his death, Alex, pretending to be a man, accepts a commission from John Damien Newell to teach his brother Sam to speak again. Sam has apparently been struck dumb by something he saw one day in the Roman catacombs that underlie the castle, and both boys were severely traumatized by their childhood governess—the evil, flame-haired Ursula Pole, whose ghost haunts the castle and walks the moors. Lord Newell, when he discovers that Alex Benjamin is really a woman, decides to let her stay on in the role of governess. He's attracted by her self-assurance, her goodness and optimism. Since Ursula's death, Newell has been dominated by the dark side of his personality, never letting himself be vulnerable to the love of a good woman; instead, he spends his time with his London mistress, to whom he administers whippings (in Wapping). Fearing that he'll be persuaded to change his nasty habits, Newell tries to seduce Alex to his evil, ungentle ways. Alex takes a very long time figuring out that the poor tormented baron didn't kill Ursula, who sexually assaulted him when he was a boy. Tedium relieved only by unintentionally humorous prose (``But once the dam broke into madness, there was no bucket large enough to put the water back''), in a work often bordering on camp.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1997

ISBN: 1-57566-136-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1996

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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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On the day her fiance came out and left her at the altar, Faith escaped to the West Coast, where she’s had a thriving...

THE BEST MAN

When Faith Holland was abandoned at the altar three years ago, she left her hometown for San Francisco to regroup; coming home to Manningsport, she’ll have to confront her past and Levi Cooper, the disturbingly handsome chief of police she blames for ruining her life.

On the day her fiance came out and left her at the altar, Faith escaped to the West Coast, where she’s had a thriving professional life and a comical romantic life. Summoned home for a few months to work the harvest at her family’s winery and help with some crisis management, Faith realizes that some things in her small town will never change—for the good or the bad—but she knows the time has come to establish a new reality with her ex, her family and maybe even Levi Cooper, the best man who forced Jeremy to be honest with her and himself on their wedding day. It’s so much easier to blame and despise him; if she lets down her guard, she might have to deal with their short but profound shared past and her own guilt and secrets from a long-ago tragedy that has haunted her for most of her life. Higgins’ newest heart-tugging romantic comedy juggles a spectrum of emotionally powerful elements, including the death of a mother, the abandonment of a father and a sigh-worthy high school romance gone awry. With her typical engaging voice, compelling storytelling and amusing dialogue, Higgins keeps the audience flipping through pages as quickly as possible, but it is her spot-on ability to make her characters at once funny, authentic and vulnerable—vulnerable to the point of breaking, so they can heal, stronger and better and more able to love—that is her true genius and guarantees most romance fans will both laugh out loud and get teary, sometimes at the same time. Another sweet, touching must-read for Higgins fans and anyone who enjoys a perfect combination of humor and romance.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-373-77792-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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