Vincenzi’s vast readership, both in the U.K. and across the pond, will savor this last book.

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A QUESTION OF TRUST

Vincenzi, who died in February, wrote blockbusters (A Perfect Heritage, 2015, etc.) focusing on Fleet Street journalists, desperate politicians, fashion mavens, and physicians, all of whom are represented in her last novel, which follows a group of characters from 1936 to 1955.

As with much of Vincenzi’s oeuvre, a populous cast is introduced at the beginning, mandating constant cross-checking of the indispensable Character List for the first 200 pages or so. Tom rises from a working-class background to become a solicitor and a candidate to be a Member of Parliament from the Labour Party. Top model Diana, whom true love has eluded, relieves the boredom of her marriage with fashion shoots, flings with photographers, and posh nightlife. Jillie, an obstetrician, and Ned, a pediatrician, are on the verge of marriage until Ned reveals that he's gay. Alice married Tom but has always felt overshadowed by his first wife, Laura, who not only saw him through World War II, but died giving birth to their stillborn child. Alice gave up her hard-won nursing career to have three children with Tom, but the strains of domestic life—Labour politicians don’t hire nannies—take a toll. The behavior of the characters is often arbitrary: Tom, for example, appears to go from understanding husband to petty tyrant overnight. Diana can be gracious one minute, vindictive and conniving the next. Three main conflicts heighten the stakes. Diana and Tom find themselves helplessly in lust just as he is about to break into the political mainstream. The heroic Ned draws his superiors’ ire by advocating for hospitalized children, risking dangerous publicity: If the press sniffs out his homosexuality, ruin and jail are guaranteed. Tom’s advocacy for the new National Health Service is key to his politics but proves problematic for his family. Vincenzi’s forte was delivering her doses of socio-economic realism with a large dollop of syrupy scandal.

Vincenzi’s vast readership, both in the U.K. and across the pond, will savor this last book.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4683-1614-8

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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