A fun, heartwarming Regency romance elevated by witty dialogue and a unique concept.

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WHAT ALES THE EARL

Despite the strict social mores of the Regency period, Penelope Barnes has created a safe home for her illegitimate daughter, Harriet, until mean-spirited rumors crack her mask of respectability and her aristocratic lover reappears.

Penelope seduced Harry, the second son of an earl and her childhood crush, before he went off to fight Napoleon. After he left, she discovered she was pregnant and fled her abusive farmer father, ultimately finding sanctuary at the Benevolent Home for the Maintenance and Support of Spinsters, Widows and Abandoned Women and their Unfortunate Children. Thanks in large part to her knowledge of farming and agriculture, she was able to “manage the orchards and other crops and nurse the all-but-abandoned hopyard back to life,” and she helps launch a brewery. Penelope and Harriet have been happy, but lately a new mother-daughter resident pair at the Home has been teasing Harriet mercilessly and spreading rumors about Penelope, claiming that Harriet is the illegitimate daughter of the philandering former Earl of Darrow. In fact, Harriet is the illegitimate daughter of the current earl, who has come into the title after his brother’s death. Penelope has long claimed she’s the widow of a war hero, but thanks to a genetic oddity that runs in the earl’s family and has recently manifested in Harriet, their cover is blown. Things get more complicated when Harry, on an errand from a friend, comes to investigate the Home and discovers he has a daughter. Obviously an earl can’t marry a farmer’s daughter. Or can he? MacKenzie delivers an engaging plot, and the enlightened moments at the end redeem some mind-boggling choices Penelope and Harry make in the beginning, though a comeuppance for Harriet's tormentor would have been nice.

A fun, heartwarming Regency romance elevated by witty dialogue and a unique concept.

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4201-4671-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Zebra/Kensington

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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 romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

THE DECEPTION

A successful businesswoman hires a smooth-talking bounty hunter to find a lead on her sister’s murder.

Kate Gallagher was the only one available to identify her younger sister Chrissy’s body after she was found dead, having run away from home two years earlier. Since Chrissy succumbed to drugs and turned to sex work to survive, her murder isn't taken seriously by the local homicide department. Kate is filled with grief and regret at not having been there for her sister, and she’s determined to find her killer as a kind of penance. Jason Maddox is the charming man Kate almost hooked up with at a local bar. He also happens to be on the payroll of the most successful investigation company in Dallas. He’s all too eager to help Kate out and spend more time getting to know the blonde he danced with at the Sagebrush Saloon. At first, Kate and Jason vow to keep things professional until the case is solved; there’s obvious attraction that they’re willing to pursue at a later date. But the increasing sense of danger mixed with Kate and Jason’s close proximity proves to be too heady of a combination. The tension never lets up as the pair visit seedy bars and interrogate unsavory characters. With a steamy romance and undeniably hot chemistry, the main characters are well matched. They’re both driven, slightly stubborn, and enjoy the adrenaline rush of catching criminals. Martin (The Conspiracy, 2019, etc.) doesn’t skimp on graphic, violent details as Chrissy’s murder leads her couple to something much bigger: human trafficking. Though not for the faint of heart given its weighty material, this is an un-put-down-able page-turner that’s sure to satisfy fans of romance and thrillers alike.

A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-335-00769-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin HQN

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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