Joyless, ludicrous soap opera.

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DO YOU TAKE THIS WOMAN?

Another novel of romantic complications in Chicago from Johnson (Love Frustration, 2002, etc.), who shows a lifelong friendship put to the test when two buddies fall in love with the same woman.

After his troubled mother found taking care of him too much to bear, ten-year-old Pete was taken in and raised by Wayne’s affluent parents. The boys became closer than brothers; now they share a successful medical practice. Their teenage vow to never let a woman come between them was tested when they met Carla. Pete spotted her first, but handsome, confident Wayne swooped in, and the two got engaged. Shortly before their wedding, though, Wayne had a quick last fling with an old flame, and Pete told Carla. She ditched him and married Pete, but the two men, miraculously, remained friends. Two years later, Carla is secretly seeing Wayne, who wants her back. She decides to break off their nonsexual relationship to save her marriage, but not before Pete, feeling neglected, has an ill-advised one-night stand with a patient. His shattered wife tells him that she plans to have an affair of her own. Torn apart at the thought of losing Carla, Pete comes up with a bizarre proposal. Since she will only take him back after she gets revenge, Pete insists that he should pick her one-time lover—and guess who he chooses? Wayne is now engaged to beautiful Me’Shell, and Pete knows his “brother” would never betray him, so he figures he can control the situation; he even draws up a contract for the adulterous night of love, complete with specific do’s and don’ts. The plan backfires in every possible way as Pete becomes violently jealous when he discovers that Carla and Wayne still have feelings for each other. The three then indulge in a tedious game of back and forth, pitting friendship against love and acting like five-year-olds until the nonsensical climax.

Joyless, ludicrous soap opera.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-7432-8519-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2006

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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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