Annoying forced drama and a heroine who will call her abusive ex-boyfriend on the cellphone she bought to avoid him when she...

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BREATHE INTO ME

Lacey St. James has hit rock bottom; just as she decides she needs to make changes, she meets Everett, an intriguing stranger who helps her make more empowering choices.

Lacey has an abusive boyfriend, an abusive family and abusive friends—and a much younger brother. In the past, she was the victim of a tragic incident that gave her a terrible reputation; she reacted by dropping out of school, working at dead-end jobs, partying with so-called friends who treated her badly and hooking up with awful men. On the night her boyfriend, Macon, practically rapes her, she goes out with Ashley, a “friend” who obviously doesn’t care about her at all. Macon shows up at the bar and tries to force her to have sex with some friends of his behind the building. Lacey escapes and comes to the conclusion that maybe she shouldn’t move in with him (you think?), and maybe her friends aren’t really quality people (really?). She meets Everett, a Very Sexy Guy, in the bar that night, and for some inexplicable reason he is wildly attracted to her. They become friends, then more, as Lacey tries to clean up her life. Everett is the moon and stars, until she (thinks she) finds out his Horrible Secret and, without asking any questions, drops him like a cement balloon. Until his dying sister (yes, really) comes out of nowhere and confesses The Truth to her, and she begs his forgiveness. Meanwhile, after years of poorly explained estrangement, Lacey picks up the phone and contacts people she should have called five years ago, who take steps to solve the dilemma of her abusive family and help protect her younger brother.

Annoying forced drama and a heroine who will call her abusive ex-boyfriend on the cellphone she bought to avoid him when she needs a little help: Skip it.

Pub Date: July 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-04851-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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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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This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

OUTFOX

An FBI agent is determined to catch a man who bilks and murders wealthy women, but the chase goes slowly.

Brown (Tailspin, 2018, etc.) has published 70 bestsellers, and this one employs her usual template of thriller spiked with romance. Its main character, Drex Easton, is an FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer, but for him it’s personal. When he was a boy, his mother left him and his father for another man, Weston Graham. Drex believes Graham murdered her and that he has killed at least seven more women after emptying their bank accounts. Now he thinks he has the clever Graham—current alias Jasper Ford—in his sights, and he’s willing to put his career at risk to catch him. The women Ford targets are wealthy, and his new prey is no exception—except that, uncharacteristically, he has married her. Talia Ford proves to be a complication for Drex, who instantly falls in lust with her even though he’s not at all sure she isn’t her husband's accomplice. Posing as a would-be novelist, Drex moves into an apartment next door to the Fords’ posh home and tries to ingratiate himself, but tensions rise immediately—Jasper is suspicious, and Talia has mixed feelings about Drex's flirtatious behavior. When Talia’s fun-loving friend Elaine Conner turns up dead after a cruise on her yacht and Jasper disappears, Drex and Talia become allies. There are a few action sequences and fewer sex scenes, but the novel’s pace bogs down repeatedly in long, mundane conversations. Drex's two FBI agent sidekicks are more interesting characters than he is; Drex himself is such a caricature of a macho man, so heedless of ethics, and so aggressive toward women that it’s tough to see him as a good guy. Brown adds a couple of implausible twists at the very end that make him seem almost as untrustworthy as Graham.

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7219-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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