Aside from the problematic ending, a serviceable, well-paced romance.

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY

Pimentel (Love by the Book, 2015, etc.) joins the ongoing modernized–Jane Austen trend with this take on Persuasion.

With broader and less vibrant strokes than Austen, Pimentel paints a picture of Ruby Atlas, a 32-year-old New Yorker who humbly considers herself a success by the city’s tough standards: she has a consuming job at an advertising firm, her own tiny apartment in the East Village, and even a personal trainer, all hard-won. Conversely, Piper, her younger, perfectionist sister, will soon have a storybook wedding at a castle in England. As Ruby prepares to leave for the wedding, she is terrified of seeing one of the guests, her first love, Ethan, now a wildly successful tech guy and best friend of the groom. The prospect amps up a load of insecurities for Ruby, both professional and romantic. Readers of Persuasion will know where this is headed, and those unfamiliar will easily guess. Emotional self-preservation leads both parties to pretend they no longer matter to each other, which gives Ruby plenty of time to tend to her difficult family and fix a series of wedding-related disasters. It’s not until her father has a health scare that the stakes are high enough, and Ethan solicitous enough, for Ruby to admit how she feels. Alternating flashback chapters illuminate Ruby and Ethan’s young, ardent relationship and build to what ultimately drove them apart. Some of these reasons are quite poignant, stemming from Ruby’s unforgiving expectations of herself as a young person building an adult life. Unfortunately, a late-revealed piece of the puzzle involves sexual assault, which the novel handles in a troublingly retrograde way.

Aside from the problematic ending, a serviceable, well-paced romance.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-13037-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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PRIVATE SCANDALS

A scheming rival and an obsessive fan convince a TV star that she's a long way from Kansas—in more sudsy romantic suspense from Roberts (Honest Illusions, 1992). Deanna Reynolds and Angela Perkins are both smart, talented, attractive, and ambitious. The big difference between the two talk- show hosts is that Angela is an attention-hungry woman desperate to maintain her fading charms and worshipful audience at all costs, while Dee maintains her Midwestern values even as her Chicago-based show makes her a star and threatens Angela's in New York. Angela, who was once Dee's mentor, has never forgiven the younger woman for turning down her offer to come to New York with her. Even less forgivable is Dee's romance with Finn Riley, a footloose foreign correspondent and once Angela's lover. Finn, who coolly calls in exclusives from a crash-landing 747, shrugs off a bullet wound while he broadcasts live during a shootout, and indisputably earns the nickname "Desert Hunk" during the Gulf War, finds his match in the unbelievably beautiful, desirable, and sweet Deanna. While the two make seismic love on any available surface and Angela plots Dee's downfall in the ratings, a secret admirer (whose identity is more obvious than the author must have intended) writes her love notes. Then, one by one, he begins to kill off all the people who have hurt or betrayed her—and attempts to realize his insane dream of making Deanna entirely his own. A sexy hero whose no-nonsense presence cuts through the vapors and cattiness of the womenfolk and a convincing behind-the-scenes look at TV—both help make up for the weak humor, implausible plot, and trite glitz of this predictable novel.

Pub Date: July 1, 1993

ISBN: 0425190382

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1993

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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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