THE NINE LIVES OF CHRISTMAS

A cat that’s used up eight of his nine lives makes a deal to preserve his last one in this light romance from the author of The Snow Globe (2010, etc.).

Ambrose is up a tree, but that’s no surprise because there’s a snarling dog below him. Having run through eight previous lives, none of which ended well, he strikes a desperate cosmic bargain to preserve his last one by promising to make a difference in someone’s life. At the very moment the orange tabby is about to become toast, a kind stranger shows up, chases away the dog and saves him. Understanding that he has to deliver on his promise, Ambrose follows him home and ingratiates himself into the man’s life. The kind stranger turns out to be a firefighter named Zach who is convinced he doesn’t need another relationship. Zach has been hurt in the past, both by his mother’s abrupt abandonment when he was a child and by an old flame. Although a confirmed bachelor, Zach, a firefighter, has a girlfriend: the beautiful, brittle, self-absorbed Blair, a spoiled rich girl who both hates Ambrose and wants Zach’s attention all to herself. It’s Christmas and Zach dreads the whole fa-la-la-la-la thing, but he can’t turn the cat out into the cold, so he hits Pet Palace for cat supplies and meets Merilee. Merilee is naturally beautiful, but sadly out-of-sync with make-up, clothes and modern female predation methods. She also knows all about cats. Following the cute meet, Ambrose plots ways to make Christmas and the infant romance between the two turn happy in this connect-the-dots story that leaves no romantic cliché unturned. More of a novella than a novel, Roberts’ book is a breezy read aimed at the Yuletide market, but it’s so slight in both plot and length that many readers may feel cheated. The author also has a distracting predilection for dotting each page with multiple parenthetical phrases. While it may kill an afternoon, readers shouldn’t hope for anything more than a predictable plot, loads of pop-culture references and a small, albeit pleasant break from the demands of everyday life.

 

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-59449-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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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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