An exceptional first effort that captures the harmony of two beating hearts.

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SECRETS OF THE APPLE

Detailing how family dynamics, cultural diversity and past relationships shape who we are, debut novelist Hiatt subtly explores the cavern between a successful life and a meaningful one.

Kate, a young idealistic American, and Ryoki, a wealthy Japanese businessman—both divorced—pair up professionally when Ryoki needs an assistant quickly and it just so happens that Kate’s teaching position falls through. (Readers learn later that their mutually caring families have a hand in the “coincidence.”) Their two families deeply respect each other with a long-standing business partnership and friendship, though neither Kate nor Ryoki know each other. Ryoki reluctantly accepts Kate into his office; he seriously doubts her capabilities and is concerned she'll negatively impact his big project and professional reputation. After all, he demands a grueling pace from his assistant, and the responsibilities are enormous. Kate quickly proves that what she lacks in training, she makes up for with brains, intuition and hard work. In the office, she mothers and nags Ryoki for being a workaholic, and her quirks and eccentricities annoy him. Eventually, Ryoki notices that he feels differently when Kate is away. Hiatt uses interesting metaphors and visual descriptions as the love story slowly boils below the surface, though occasionally those unique metaphors are distracting. Ryoki's thoughts—a surprising amount of self-doubt and hurt—linger under his suit, but like Ryoki, we're never quite sure of Kate's thoughts. The reader and Ryoki want to know more about her, which keeps both pushing forward. He invites her to work for him in Brazil, arranging her quarters in a guest cottage outside his home. Kate wonders why he goes to such pains for a “temporary” assistant, and Ryoki wonders why himself. In Sao Paulo, they remain platonic and professional but as intimate as a couple can be without sex. Each secretly cherishes this escape from the life they had been living before—Ryoki especially—but in their tense, tender connection, he’s afraid to act on his emotions until another man threatens to swoop in and take Kate away from him.

An exceptional first effort that captures the harmony of two beating hearts.

Pub Date: June 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-0984663408

Page Count: -

Publisher: Mayday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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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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