A wholesome Christmas tale full of adorable characters and unexpected kindnesses.

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LET IT SNOW

A Nantucket shopkeeper falls for one of the island’s wealthiest bachelors in this Christmas season feel-good tale.

The novel begins as Christina Antonioni prevents a 9-year-old girl from shoplifting stickers from her Nantucket toy shop. Christina strikes a bargain with the sullen girl, who introduces herself as Wink, convincing the child to come back and work in the store for a short period. If Wink returns, Christina will pay her the meager sum required to purchase the stickers. Wink not only returns, but is so disarming that Christina offers her a regular job. It turns out Wink is the granddaughter of Oscar Bittlesman, one of the richest men on Nantucket. When Wink’s mother visits the store with her brother, Andy, Christina feels an instant attraction to him. She attempts to talk herself out of the crush, relying on internal dialogue that she refers to throughout the story, somewhat artlessly, as her “Inner Christina.” However, Andy takes an interest in her and wears down her defenses. “Her Inner Christina told her she absolutely could not count on this evening amounting to anything at all, but here with him now, so close that they could reach out and touch, all common sense floated away.” Then Christina receives a letter from Andy’s father stating that he’s purchased the buildings on the wharf and will be raising the rent. Christina and the other shopkeepers decide to band together to change Oscar’s mind. Only if she successfully challenges Oscar will Christina ever feel secure in a relationship with his son. As usual, Thayer’s novel is so full of details about life on Nantucket that the island becomes its own character. Several moments are so sweet they’ll make your teeth hurt, but the holiday feasts, caroling, and general Christmas spirit help the novel fall squarely within its genre of satisfying Christmas romances. Told in a plot-focused, accessible prose, the book maintains its lighthearted tone throughout, never delving too deeply into Christina’s feelings toward her own family, her friendships with the other shopkeepers, or the classist attitudes of her friends.

A wholesome Christmas tale full of adorable characters and unexpected kindnesses.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9868-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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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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A promising start to a series, provided Roberts can flesh out her derivative heroine.

THE WITNESS

A young woman in hiding from the Russian mob faces a difficult decision when she falls in love with a cop.

Abigail, 28, lives alone in the bucolic hamlet of Bickford, Ark., in an isolated house, fortified with firearms, a state-of-the-art alarm system and a vicious dog named Bert. When the town’s genial police chief, Brooks, suspects Abigail is packing while shopping for gourmet groceries, his curiosity soon morphs into courtship. Although she finds herself drawn to Brooks and to his welcoming, bohemian family, Abigail dares not reveal that her real name is Liz—which is not the only way in which she appears to be Roberts’ answer to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Gifted with an eidetic memory, an IQ over 200 and an affinity for cool, calculated mayhem, Liz/Abigail is a skilled hacker and a highly paid security consultant. In her spare time she investigates the Russian mob and the crooked federal agents who are responsible for her current predicament; whenever possible, she throws virtual monkey wrenches into the mob’s Internet scams. When she witnesses an altercation between Brooks and the wastrel son of a local magnate, she’s thrust back into the horror of the last time she witnessed a crime. At 16, rebelling against an unloving, controlling mother, Liz and a girlfriend, Julie, visited a Chicago nightclub run by the Russian Mafia, where Ilya, son of gang kingpin Sergei, and Alexi, a cousin, seduced them with Cosmos. Later, at Alexi’s lakeside home, Liz was an unseen witness to a hit on Alexi by Sergei’s enforcers, who also killed Julie. Managing to escape, Liz was forced to run again when two dirty FBI agents destroyed her safe house and murdered her guards. A person of interest to both the Feds and the mob, she’s been on the lam for 12 years. Before they can marry, Brooks must help Liz come in from the cold.

A promising start to a series, provided Roberts can flesh out her derivative heroine.

Pub Date: April 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-15912-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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