An average romance that makes up for it with a lively, comedic cast.

CAN'T HURRY LOVE

A widow burned by love gets tangled up with a small-town sheriff in this contemporary romance series starter.

Lola Williams’ first real encounter with Sheriff Drew Taylor is when he catches her burning her late husband’s underwear in a front-yard bonfire. The spectacle even attracts the very curious Sunshine Valley Widows Club, who soon adopt the mission to get the two unlucky-in-love people together. Lola gave up her dreams and lucrative career in New York City to move to her husband Randy’s small hometown of Sunshine, Colorado. It’s only after his death that she discovers he was quite the philanderer. Meanwhile, Drew’s wife had no problem leaving him and their daughter high and dry. It’s understandable why both Lola and Drew would feel jaded and cynical at the prospect of dating, especially since the small-town atmosphere lends itself to plenty of gossip. Lola’s discoveries about her husband, though, are just the tip of the iceberg, and it’s Drew to whom she turns to find out more about Randy’s double life. Despite the heaviness of a spouse’s death and the bitterness that may come with such intense heartbreaks suffered by both main characters, there’s warm and pleasant goofiness to the town of Sunshine and the gentle romance between Drew and Lola. The Sunshine Valley Widows Club probably deserves most of the credit. They steal every scene and have perfect timing with comedic relief or a meaningful word. The biggest hurdles for readers’ patience will be Lola’s constant doubting of her own agency, even when it means admitting she made bad decisions, and how the slow-burn romance truly stretches the definition and nearly puts this into cozy women’s fiction territory.

An average romance that makes up for it with a lively, comedic cast.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-3341-7

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Forever

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Roberts does it again with this fast-paced romantic mystery that's both steamy and thrilling, despite its somewhat obvious...

BLUE SMOKE

Beautiful Italian babe with a passion for fire and doomed hunks joins the arson squad and discovers that someone has held a torch for her since she was a child.

When Reena Hale is 11 years old, she watches her family's Baltimore pizzeria go up in flames. Thanks to a local arson detective, John Minger, and the girl's keen memory, police determine that a neighborhood crook whose young son had recently attacked Reena was out for revenge, and soon cops publicly haul the dirt bag off to jail. The large and loving Hale family bands together and rebuilds; Reena grows up curious about the origins of fire. She attends college and, after her boyfriend dies in an accident, joins the police force and learns the inner workings of the fire department. Eventually, she teams with Minger to solve the city's suspicious fires. Meanwhile, over the years, a shady character has been hiding in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to violently sabotage Reena's relationships (usually with the help of explosives). Somehow Reena doesn't put together that all of her boyfriends have been in the path of catastrophic (occasionally deadly) events, so her stalker hits the phone lines to clue her in with dirty messages that become more and more intimate. When Reena launches a torrid love affair with her new neighbor, whose truck soon explodes, she begins to get it. Fearing for her family's safety, Reena reopens past cases and learns that her troubles started when she was a child. The tale builds to a breathless climax as she (literally) races to beat out the flames of one fire before determining where the next one will be set.

Roberts does it again with this fast-paced romantic mystery that's both steamy and thrilling, despite its somewhat obvious nature.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2005

ISBN: 0-399-15306-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2005

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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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