An often entertaining historical romance with vivid settings, complex characters, and a plethora of plot twists.

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The Necessary Bride

In Frost’s debut, an intrepid young woman embarks on a journey of self-discovery while finding true love in an unlikely setting.

After Katherine Haynes’ mother died, she formed a close bond with her widowed father, Walter, and found a second home at the Williamson-Goucher School for Young Ladies. During Easter weekend in 1841, tragedy strikes when Walter dies during a thunderstorm. Orphaned Katherine is left in the guardianship of her step-uncle, Henry, who plans her betrothal to his younger son, Ethan. By 1850, Henry has also died and Katherine’s guardianship has passed to his older son, Jonathan, a calculating man who has his own designs on Katherine’s inherited fortune. When she receives a letter from Ethan declaring his love, she returns home, where Jonathan assaults her. After realizing that Ethan loves another woman and that no one else can help her, Katherine decides to travel to California, where her grandmother lives. During her travels, she meets a man named Martino Castillo, who agrees to escort her. When he’s arrested after being mistaken for a wanted criminal, Katherine hastily agrees to marry him to spare his life. What starts as a marriage of convenience, however, turns into an unexpected romance as the couple tries to stay one step ahead of Jonathan on their journey. The strongest elements of Frost’s novel are its settings and its large cast of characters. Her descriptions of Katherine’s clandestine escape from Baltimore and subsequent journey through Western frontier towns are engaging and exciting throughout. Frost doesn’t shy away from describing hardships, but she balances them with the warm, welcoming sense of community that Martino and Katherine develop with their fellow travelers. Both of the lead characters are appealing and their love story is tender and believable. The secondary players are also well-developed—particularly Alexander Daniels, Jonathan’s partner and a man of intrigue and mystery. These strengths all compensate for occasionally weak copy editing; for example, early on, a housekeeper leads Katherine “passed the cabinet of treasured Rockingham pottery.”

An often entertaining historical romance with vivid settings, complex characters, and a plethora of plot twists.

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1501069628

Page Count: 374

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2015

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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 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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