A well-paced, religion-infused story that’s hampered by the demotion of a great character.

MYSTIC

YELLOWSTONE

From the Mystic series , Vol. 2

Residents near Yellowstone National Park must contend with Satan worshippers and an insane man hunting for his sister in Perkinson’s (Mystic, 2017, etc.) thriller sequel.

In her new job as a seasonal ranger for the area around the Old Faithful geyser, Joan Worthing has the chance to prove herself. She’s looking forward to no longer being a victim after years of sexual abuse by her schizophrenic brother, Teddy. Unfortunately, the latter escapes a mental institution and makes his way to Yellowstone to find Joan. His repugnant goal is to conceive a child with her; it’s part of his delusion involving a prophecy of saving the world. Teddy’s increasingly erratic behavior poses a danger to other people, as well, including local psychologist Dr. Rand Holland and preacher Cory Beard, who later becomes Joan’s love interest. Meanwhile, a satanic coven in Denver recruits 16-year-old Lela Lander, one of Rand’s patients, and pursues a sinister plan that ultimately involves Joan. The coven’s leader is apparently communing with demons, while Cory feels that he’s losing his connection to God and Rand is hearing what he believes is God’s voice. As the time of the coven’s blood ritual looms, a confrontation between good and evil seems inevitable. Despite the fact that multiple people hear demonic or divine voices, Perkinson keeps the story grounded, never verifying the existence of any spiritual presences. Instead, he tells a tale in which mere humans are the primary threat and the ones who must protect themselves and others. The simple, straightforward prose details a wide range of characters, including members of the coven and of Cory’s congregation, but Perkinson also maintains the story’s forward momentum. There are some effective plot turns along the way, including a few surprising deaths. One drawback, though, is Joan’s waning importance to the story; she begins the novel admirably determined to combat a male-dominated world that wants women to fail, but later, she’s a mere supporting character, her personal fight overshadowed by Cory’s questions of faith.

A well-paced, religion-infused story that’s hampered by the demotion of a great character.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68433-083-6

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2018

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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