An unlikely love story set in an unusual time and place; there are no happy endings or easy resolutions here.

THE BOY ON THE BRIDGE

A young woman studying abroad in Leningrad in the early 1980s falls for a young man she meets there in this uniquely suspenseful romance.

Nineteen-year-old university student Laura is warned repeatedly about young Soviets so desperate to escape to the United States that they’ll do anything—even con American students into marrying them. However, when Laura meets Alyosha, she is electrified. He is the exact opposite of the sarcastic and emotionally distant guy who’s been messing with her head back home. Alyosha earnestly quotes poetry and brings flowers, and soon she’s convinced herself that their relationship is an exception to the rule. While many will need to spend some time familiarizing themselves with an era unfamiliar to contemporary teens, Standiford balances just the right elements to make this story work. Readers will see that Laura’s insecurities, which will endear some to her and likely frustrate others, play into her willingness to believe Alyosha is her true love, but there is such a surplus of mystery created around his background and circumstances that anything seems possible. The mood of Leningrad through Laura’s eyes shifts throughout the novel, the city described in a simple, often elegant style.

An unlikely love story set in an unusual time and place; there are no happy endings or easy resolutions here. (Romance. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-33481-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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Will cast a spell on romance fans.

SERPENT & DOVE

From the Serpent & Dove series , Vol. 1

A stealth witch and a devout witch hunter are forced to marry.

In this French-flavored fantasy world, witches are hunted down by the Church’s Chasseurs and burned at the stake; they retaliate against this genocidal crusade through vicious terrorist attacks. Thief Louise le Blanc wants none of that—she’s left her witch life behind. But Lou ends up on Chasseur captain Reid Diggory’s radar when a heist goes bad; his attempt to catch her lands them in a situation so compromising that the archbishop suggests marriage to save face. Lou’s initial priority is self-protection—wanting to avoid both fallout from the heist and a dangerous figure from her past—and she’s fine with using Reid. The slow-burn, opposites-attract romance between crass, irreverent Lou and prim and proper Reid gets very hot and sexy once it ignites. Lou sees firsthand the damages some witches do to innocents, has her presumptions about individual Chasseurs challenged, and also sees up close the horrors Chasseurs perpetrate. Despite occasional pacing hiccups and an easily guessed twist, the secondary characters will charm readers, and the story picks up when Lou’s past dangerously catches up to her, revealing the true stakes. Though at heart a romance, rich second-tier characters round out the shades-of-gray, morality-and-empathy themes. Witches, Chasseurs, and some secondary characters come in all colors; the leads appear white. The ending screams sequel.

Will cast a spell on romance fans. (Fantasy. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-287802-1

Page Count: 528

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A slo-mo environmental disaster story.

THE NATURE OF WITCHES

Weather witches confront climate change in this fantasy.

Clara Densmore is her generation’s sole Everwitch and is unwilling to embrace her powers. Unlike the male and female autumn, winter, spring, and summer witches, whose powers peak during their respective seasons, Clara thrives year-round. At the Eastern School of Solar Magic in Pennsylvania, 17-year-old Clara shuns friendships and only does short-term flings, as her love can be lethal and has already killed her parents and best friend. Losing her powers seems like the selfless solution, but nonmagical shaders have pushed the planet too far with their environmental destruction. Seasonal witches are starting to die amid accelerated natural disasters—and only Clara can save the world. A budding romance with magical mentor/visiting botany student 18-year-old Sang Park from California helps Clara bloom. Redheaded, blue-eyed Clara is cued as White, and Sang is Korean American—but race, class, and other identity-related concerns are rarely a factor in this world. Debut author Griffin unfortunately fails to breathe new life into chosen one fantasy tropes—the obligatory villain, the unavoidable romance, the overly dramatic sacrifice—but excels at lush and lovely descriptions of nature and the weather and delivers a stern, if heavy-handed, message about environmental consequences of modern living.

A slo-mo environmental disaster story. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-942-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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