Fun, smart, and supersexy; a great debut from a writer to watch.

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GETTING HOT WITH THE SCOT

A Chicago TV producer has a vacation affair which feels much more intense than it should and ends badly—and then is stunned when her dreamy Scottish lover shows up on her doorstep. Can a whirlwind foreign affair lead to something real?

Cassie Crow is determined to have a fling with a sexy European during her monthlong summer tour. Reaching Scotland, the next-to-last destination, she meets Logan Reid, a popular Scottish social media personality who embroils her in his time-travel–themed video prank campaign set in an ancient castle. Tipsy and tuned in to the atmosphere, Cassie is of course never truly convinced he’s an Outlander-esque romance hero from the past but still “turn[s] off her brain” and kisses him. It's an explosive moment he wants to leverage into an American television opportunity, but she refuses to sign a release for the footage. Logan convinces her to go out for a drink, which leads to a sizzling night of sex but no signature. When he follows her to London, the two enter into a full-fledged affair, but Cassie feels like it’s all a lie when she finds the release form in his jacket. Signing it in anger, she leaves without saying goodbye, telling herself he was using her, but when Logan shows up in Chicago weeks later, they quickly resume the affair. Cassie trusts him because the footage hasn’t surfaced and he was able to land the TV opportunity anyway. They tell themselves that things aren’t serious, yet when professional tension and emotional baggage rise up, the stakes seem high and they both feel invested. Author Johnson’s debut has a delightful cast of characters and witty dialogue along with a lighthearted feel that still navigates emotional depths. Her excellent writing keeps the plot tight and humming while supporting complex storytelling and a wide variety of emotions, tones, locations, and characters, all of which divert attention from the occasionally weak conflicts.

Fun, smart, and supersexy; a great debut from a writer to watch.

Pub Date: April 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-19309-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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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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This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

OUTFOX

An FBI agent is determined to catch a man who bilks and murders wealthy women, but the chase goes slowly.

Brown (Tailspin, 2018, etc.) has published 70 bestsellers, and this one employs her usual template of thriller spiked with romance. Its main character, Drex Easton, is an FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer, but for him it’s personal. When he was a boy, his mother left him and his father for another man, Weston Graham. Drex believes Graham murdered her and that he has killed at least seven more women after emptying their bank accounts. Now he thinks he has the clever Graham—current alias Jasper Ford—in his sights, and he’s willing to put his career at risk to catch him. The women Ford targets are wealthy, and his new prey is no exception—except that, uncharacteristically, he has married her. Talia Ford proves to be a complication for Drex, who instantly falls in lust with her even though he’s not at all sure she isn’t her husband's accomplice. Posing as a would-be novelist, Drex moves into an apartment next door to the Fords’ posh home and tries to ingratiate himself, but tensions rise immediately—Jasper is suspicious, and Talia has mixed feelings about Drex's flirtatious behavior. When Talia’s fun-loving friend Elaine Conner turns up dead after a cruise on her yacht and Jasper disappears, Drex and Talia become allies. There are a few action sequences and fewer sex scenes, but the novel’s pace bogs down repeatedly in long, mundane conversations. Drex's two FBI agent sidekicks are more interesting characters than he is; Drex himself is such a caricature of a macho man, so heedless of ethics, and so aggressive toward women that it’s tough to see him as a good guy. Brown adds a couple of implausible twists at the very end that make him seem almost as untrustworthy as Graham.

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7219-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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