With its touching best-friends-to-lovers arc, the novel is both sexy and poignant.

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WRECKED

When Abby’s fiance dumps her weeks before the wedding, her best friend Zach wonders if it’s finally time to risk everything and tell her how he really feels.

Best friends Abigale Applegate and Zach Barnes were child stars of a hit sitcom in the ’90s. Now in their early 30s, the two have left Hollywood behind for good, relocating to Tucson where Abby runs her own catering company and Zach owns a tattoo parlor. Abby attempts to control her life to the smallest detail, but her Grand Plan is derailed when her fiance dumps her. At first devastated, Abby comes to understand that she feels more disappointed that the plan failed than upset that Roger left her. Zach gives Abby a freestyle-approach journal, encouraging her to relax and live life a little more spontaneously. Abby comes up with a new goal list that includes some out-of-the-box tasks, one of which is to have a torrid affair. But once she sets the goal, she is disconcerted to realize the person she’d most like to fill the role of wild lover is none other than her best friend, Zach. Zach is happy to oblige, since he’s secretly been in love with Abby as long as he’s known her. The chemistry between them is suddenly scorching, but how do you explain to the girl you love that you want forever when it seems she’s asked for a quick, hot fling? And has Zach jeopardized the very special something they already have for an uncertain chance at everything he wants? Walker’s newest stand-alone title is compelling and will especially satisfy fans of the best-friend-risks-it-all-for-love storyline. There are a number of details that add interesting texture and layers to the plot—the free-form journal, for instance, as well as Abby and Zach’s past as child stars—though some of these elements might have been fleshed out more and will occasionally leave the audience feeling as if some loose ends remain untied. Also, occasional egregiously vulgar language may turn some readers off. Overall, though, a successful romance and a good read.

With its touching best-friends-to-lovers arc, the novel is both sexy and poignant.

Pub Date: April 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-425-26445-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Berkley Sensation

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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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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