A sparkling debut with vibrant characters, a compelling Hollywood studio setting, and a sweet slow-burn romance.

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SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT

A successful showrunner and her capable assistant reassess their relationship when their red carpet appearance fuels dating rumors in Wilsner’s debut.

Jo Jones has been a Hollywood star since the age of 13. Now a powerhouse showrunner, she's about to be tapped to write and produce for a James Bond–esque action franchise. Already facing industry skepticism thanks to her gender, the last thing Jo needs is gossip, but that’s what she gets when she brings her much younger assistant, Emma Kaplan, to a red carpet event. Emma failed out of film school five years ago, and while she's happy working for Jo, she yearns to get back on a directing path. As Jo and Emma face fallout from the rumor mill, their relationship evolves. They open up to each other, Emma sharing her dreams, and Jo, ordinarily unflappable, admitting some self-doubt. Their mutual attraction is strong throughout, but their age difference and employer-employee relationship create caution, which turns this into a very slow burn. Jo worries about how their relationship will appear: “You think people don’t look at pictures of us and think I’m corrupting this lovely young lady? I’m a predatory lesbian in the middle of a midlife crisis.” Jo, who is Chinese American, had to be strong to survive in show business, and she has a hard time with feelings, her own or anyone else's. The novel is populated with strong secondary characters who bring Jo and Emma to life. Emma’s Judaism in particular is thoughtfully integrated into her character. Wilsner’s writing is matter-of-fact but effective, lending the novel a believable Hollywood insider vibe with a deftly handled #MeToo subplot.

A sparkling debut with vibrant characters, a compelling Hollywood studio setting, and a sweet slow-burn romance.

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-10252-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Despite the false start, this heartwarming story sweetly balances friendship and mother-child bonding with romantic love.

WINDOW ON THE BAY

Macomber (Be a Blessing, 2019, etc.) threatens to set her latest beach read in Paris, but her characters have other plans.

Maureen Zelinski and Jenna Boltz have been friends since college. Years ago, their plans to go to Paris were thwarted when Maureen found out she was pregnant. Now that they’re both single mothers whose children have left the nest, the time is right to dust off their passports and try again. In a somewhat disappointing turn of events, Maureen and Jenna don’t make it to Paris just yet. Instead, they stay in Seattle and pursue new love interests. Jenna, a nurse, meets orthopedic surgeon Dr. Rowan Lancaster in the emergency room after her mother falls and hurts her hip. Maureen, against her better judgment, accepts a date with Logan, a union plumber who frequents the library where she works. Jenna is afraid to date a co-worker after her workplace romance with her ex failed, but when Rowan proves to be a good listener, she’s more willing to discuss her options. Maureen doesn’t think she’ll fit in with Logan and his beer-drinking buddies, but she’s surprised when she enjoys their date at a football game. Meanwhile, Jenna worries about her children, Allie and Paul, as they navigate college and life. Though the story is primarily told from the two mothers’ perspectives, Allie breaks into the narrative with a surprising connection to Rowan. Maureen’s daughter, Tori, also takes on the role of confidante. The happy endings (and potential travel plans) unfold with a touch of realism to contrast the idyllic backdrop of the Pacific Northwest.

Despite the false start, this heartwarming story sweetly balances friendship and mother-child bonding with romantic love.

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-18133-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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