The courtesans are never as wicked as they pretend, but the road to happily-ever-after is intense, conflicted, suspenseful...

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SAPPHIRES ARE AN EARL'S BEST FRIEND

Lily Dawson’s reputation as the Countess of Charm, a renowned courtesan, is secretly a cover for her intelligence gathering, and her current mission is compromised when the only man she’s ever loved finally notices her—just as she is trying to seduce his father.

Lily is determined to discover who is targeting covert operatives in the service of the Crown. Known for her bright personality and charming manner, she has gained access to the highest tiers of Regency society, and she is using her influence to catch the attention of a recently widowed duke, even though what she really wants to know is if he is behind the plot to undermine the kingdom’s intelligence network. Unfortunately, the duke’s son is Andrew Booth-Payne, the only man Lily has ever truly loved, who is now convinced she is not only beyond the pale, but also a fortune hunter. Lily has known Andrew for ages, and even while she’s playing the role of seductress, she is disappointed that he doesn’t see through her pretense and instead views her with disgust and suspicion. Yet the more they face off, the more he realizes things aren’t quite as they seem; as an unwelcome passion flares between them, he understands that neither Lily nor his father are anything close to what he’s always believed them to be. At first determined to protect his family from Lily, soon he’ll be working to protect Lily from a host of dangers, including the real possibility that his father is a traitor and that information stored on the property could endanger everything they hold dear. The third installment in the Jewels of the Ton trilogy, the novel finishes off a series that nods to the demimonde, international intrigue, and various secrets and lies, which keeps the plots afloat and the relationships steamy and emotionally satisfying.

The courtesans are never as wicked as they pretend, but the road to happily-ever-after is intense, conflicted, suspenseful and fun.

Pub Date: March 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4022-6979-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 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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