Solid romantic suspense with strong characters and surprising plot twists.

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Tall, Dark and Damaged

From the Damaged Heroes series , Vol. 1

A successful businessman uncovers dangerous family secrets and a long-lost love in this latest novel from Andre (Locked, Loaded, & Lying, 2015).

Devon Ashby grows up in Chicago, the eldest son of a prominent but emotionally distant businessman, Harrison Wickham. When Devon is 9, he discovers the body of his mother. Her death is ruled a suicide, but he’s convinced she was murdered. Determined to establish his own identity, he leaves home at 18 with $53 and bus tickets for himself and his high school sweetheart, Hannah Moore. Their intense relationship is the lifeline both need to cope with difficult families. He is devastated when Hannah chooses to stay to care for her dying mother. Twelve years later, Devon returns to make peace with Harrison and collect his trust fund. He discovers a family in shambles and the estate damaged by a mysterious fire. He’s shocked to discover Hannah’s company has been hired to restore the Wickham art collection. Their reunion sparks a long, simmering attraction that’s complicated by his company’s plans to tear down her apartment building. But when a second death occurs in the Wickham family home, Devon must face the ghosts of the past to protect himself and Hannah. Andre’s novel offers appealing lead characters and tightly plotted romantic suspense. Tall, dark, and devastatingly handsome, Devon could easily turn into a caricature of his ruthless and calculating father; however, carefully integrated flashbacks reveal the pain and heartbreak that drive his motivation to succeed in business and life. He meets his match in Hannah, a young woman with an equally tragic family background determined to build her own business and care for her elderly aunt. Their renewed attraction is instant but fraught with complications, including his development plan for Hannah’s neighborhood and engagement to another woman. Although their romance forms the cornerstone of Andre’s narrative, additional storylines involving the fire at the Wickham estate and Harrison’s sudden engagement to a mysterious woman are also well-developed despite a climax that’s slightly over the top.

Solid romantic suspense with strong characters and surprising plot twists.

Pub Date: May 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9975607-0-1

Page Count: 338

Publisher: Beach Reads

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

THE RESCUE

High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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