An appealing love story.

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STORM SEASON

When an injured Sydney journalist is stranded in a storm during a camping trip, she winds up spending a few days at the cabin of a wilderness ranger, leading her on a surprising journey of romance and introspection.

Music and fashion journalist Lien Hong isn’t looking forward to a holiday camping trip with her friends. Her career—and perhaps her identity?—is a little too tied to social media, and being in the middle of nowhere for days is not her idea of a good time. But she’s up for a challenge, and she has an adorable, if impractical, wardrobe. Unfortunately, almost as soon as she gets to the campground, she takes a little stroll and winds up lost, injured, and with a broken smartphone just as a storm is rolling in. Rescued by Claudia, a ranger, the two become stranded in Claudia's cabin when the roads are washed out. At first embarrassed and flustered, Lien begins to feel relaxed in Claudia’s home and welcomes the forcibly unplugged atmosphere. One evening when Claudia is playing her guitar and singing, Lien realizes she is also Claudie, the lead singer of Grand Echo, a popular up-and-coming band from a few years ago that simply disappeared. The two embark on a summer fling, but Lien is disappointed when Claudia makes it clear she’s not interested in keeping in touch. Lien heads back to her life in Sydney but finds her time away has changed her, and she feels restless. Meanwhile, their time together has inspired Claudia to face her past and pursue music again, and when she moves back to Sydney, she and Lien must decide if they have a future together. Henson explores an interesting lesbian relationship that begins as an “opposites attract” storyline but cants into a journey of two women truly finding each other after they decide to be true to themselves. The present-tense narration can be distracting, and the pacing slows occasionally, but overall this is a unique and engaging romance.

An appealing love story.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-945053-16-0

Page Count: 226

Publisher: Interlude Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 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 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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