Fun, sweet, spooky and sexy.

READ REVIEW

BETTER HOMES AND HAUNTINGS

Billionaire social media magnate Deacon Whitney contracts a group of renovation specialists, including landscape designer Nina Linden, to live and work on his remote island estate.

After generations of neglect, the Crane’s Nest is getting some attention. The once-beautiful estate—which sits in Narragansett Bay—has been left mostly to disintegrate since it was built by Gerald Whitney for his wife, Catherine. Just after the mansion was completed, Catherine was murdered, and the shadow of her mysterious death hung over Gerald for the rest of his life; the family has never been able to restore its fortunes or its reputation. Until Deacon. The island has long been rumored to be haunted, but Deacon—a man of science—refuses to believe it. Nina is so desperate to rebuild her life and career after her former partner (in business and romance) betrayed her that she’s grateful for the opportunity, no matter what misgivings she may have about the place or its oddly attractive owner. As the collection of people—Deacon’s cousin Dotty; his best friend and architect, Jake; and professional organizer Cindy—become colleagues, then friends, none of them can deny that there is some malevolent force on the island, and they have to solve the mystery of Catherine’s murder before history repeats itself. After writing successful Southern contemporary and vampire-themed paranormal romances, Harper turns her humor and charm to a Gothic-haunted-house-on-a-remote-island story. The characters are authentic and appealing, the sexual and romantic tension are perfectly balanced, and the snippets of the past as experienced by modern-day characters in dreams and trances should seem trite but work quite well. With more than one enemy, it’s sometimes hard to know who’s responsible for what, and the ending almost makes it seem like the heroes were at times too easily misled. But Harper is a witty, engaging writer, and any weaknesses are completely overcome by the strength of the writing and storytelling.

Fun, sweet, spooky and sexy.

Pub Date: June 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0600-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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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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