A clever romance with strong characters and an intriguing fictional world.

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WOLF HOLLOW

From the Wolf Hollow Shifters series

Jefford (Night Stalker, 2017) explores a harsh, mesmerizing post-apocalyptic world in this paranormal-romance novel, the first in a series.

When sickness wiped out most of human civilization nearly three decades ago, the city-dwelling, werewolflike wolf shifters, who’d mixed and mingled with humans, rejoined their pure-blood brethren in the wild. As the last pure-blood in the Wolf Hollow pack, Sasha is ceaselessly pressured to strengthen the pack by mating with another pure-blood, whatever her own feelings may be. Tabor, meanwhile, stands at the lowest end of the pack hierarchy; he’s half-wizard and thus feared and derided by the other wolves. Of course, there are many worries facing the pack, from human poachers to monstrous creatures called “vulhena,” but the biggest danger may be a matter of the heart. Sasha begins to balk at the weight of duty, the pain of loss, and the hypocrisy of the elders, while Tabor realizes that Sasha may actually see him for who he is, unlike the status-obsessed bigots. But in a harsh world, their connection will cause more trouble than they could imagine. The characters are well-drawn and sympathetic, and the plot moves at a quick pace with plenty of complex worldbuilding. The appearance of members of other packs; Sasha’s crush on her patrol partner, Aden; and her memories of her lost love, Wolfrik, among other things, add to the growing tension. The prose is strong throughout, and the characters have distinct voices as the story switches between them. The only real downside is that the prose sometimes lingers too much on characters’ bodies, particularly during acts of passion—although this fact won’t detract from many readers’ enjoyment: “When he removed his shirt and displayed his solid pecs, Sasha’s throat went dry. He had the best-looking abs of any shifter in Wolf Hollow.”

A clever romance with strong characters and an intriguing fictional world.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-976429-94-1

Page Count: 414

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2017

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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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A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

THE DECEPTION

A successful businesswoman hires a smooth-talking bounty hunter to find a lead on her sister’s murder.

Kate Gallagher was the only one available to identify her younger sister Chrissy’s body after she was found dead, having run away from home two years earlier. Since Chrissy succumbed to drugs and turned to sex work to survive, her murder isn't taken seriously by the local homicide department. Kate is filled with grief and regret at not having been there for her sister, and she’s determined to find her killer as a kind of penance. Jason Maddox is the charming man Kate almost hooked up with at a local bar. He also happens to be on the payroll of the most successful investigation company in Dallas. He’s all too eager to help Kate out and spend more time getting to know the blonde he danced with at the Sagebrush Saloon. At first, Kate and Jason vow to keep things professional until the case is solved; there’s obvious attraction that they’re willing to pursue at a later date. But the increasing sense of danger mixed with Kate and Jason’s close proximity proves to be too heady of a combination. The tension never lets up as the pair visit seedy bars and interrogate unsavory characters. With a steamy romance and undeniably hot chemistry, the main characters are well matched. They’re both driven, slightly stubborn, and enjoy the adrenaline rush of catching criminals. Martin (The Conspiracy, 2019, etc.) doesn’t skimp on graphic, violent details as Chrissy’s murder leads her couple to something much bigger: human trafficking. Though not for the faint of heart given its weighty material, this is an un-put-down-able page-turner that’s sure to satisfy fans of romance and thrillers alike.

A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-335-00769-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin HQN

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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