A fresh plot is undermined by stale romance elements best left in the genre’s past.


Second in a historical romance series featuring dukes who fall for governesses.

Hadrian Ames, Duke of Clayton, is on his way to the village of Whitnash to court 18-year-old Lady Ellen Godwin when an ice storm forces him to take shelter at an inn. The prospective union has long had the blessing of both the Earl of Godwin, who fostered Hadrian as a child after his father died, and Hadrian’s late father himself. Hadrian thinks little of women in general—they pout, plead, scheme, and simper—but recognizes that at age 29, it is time for him to produce an heir. When a lovely American guardian chases her young charge, Leo, into his room at the inn, Hadrian’s outlook abruptly changes: “The world faded as he stared at the vision standing before him.” Natalie and Leo barely survived a vicious attack on their American frontier mission by renegade British soldiers. The massacre took the lives of Leo’s parents, one of whom was Lord Godwin’s eldest daughter, Audrey. Natalie promised a dying Audrey that she would return Leo to her family in England. Hadrian becomes Natalie’s reluctant defender when Lord Godwin and his second wife greet Leo and his American guardian with extreme skepticism. Natalie’s tall, willowy beauty, her forthrightness, and her rejection of hierarchy set her apart from other women, and soon Hadrian’s instant attraction becomes something more, although he allows her to believe he is still interested in Lady Ellen until nearly the end of the novel. In 2020, this “not like all the other girls” trope is more apt to generate reader antipathy toward the hero than admiration for the heroine. A gratuitous attempted rape of Natalie by a groom merely provides a pretext for the duke to seduce her rather than a means to address her post-traumatic condition.

A fresh plot is undermined by stale romance elements best left in the genre’s past.

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-17439-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • IndieBound Bestseller


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

Did you like this book?

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...


An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

Did you like this book?