Desperate Housewives with a high cringe quotient.

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THE SECRET DESIRES OF A SOCCER MOM

When one of her best friends dies, a suburban wife and mother suspects murder.

Paige Atwell’s gracious home in Denver, her loyal husband, healthy kids and weekly coffee klatch with neighboring moms all add up to the American dream. Well, maybe somebody’s American dream, but lately Paige has begun to feel something’s missing. Things get worse when her friend Karen confesses to Paige that she is having an affair with the Latino model from her life-drawing class. Paige is at first shocked and then slightly unmoored by the recurrent fantasies that fill her head of Karen and her Latin lover. The chronic round of errands and pick-up times for her children’s soccer matches, dance lessons, play-dates, doctors’ appointments—and her husband’s increasing last-minute calls to say he won’t be home for dinner—only exacerbate Paige’s obsession with the lack of passion in her life. She finally mentions her frustration to another friend, Jane, who tells Paige she needs to “resexualize” her marriage. Paige is game . . . but several attempts to be spontaneous with her husband end disastrously. Then comes the news that Karen has been found dead in her garage. Paige’s imagination goes into overdrive: Did Karen’s husband discover the affair and kill her in a jealous rage? What about Karen’s mysterious lover? Out of loyalty to Karen, Paige tells no one about the affair—even when the police come around to ask some routine questions. They seem to think it was just an unfortunate accident. When Paige suggests otherwise, her friends tell her she has she been watching too many episodes of CSI, so she decides to take matters into her own hands. Harding (The Journal of Mortifying Moments, 2004) has a breezy, headlong style, but Paige’s ham-handed attempts at being a private eye so mortifyingly misfire that they have no chance of being funny.

Desperate Housewives with a high cringe quotient.

Pub Date: July 25, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-47630-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 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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