Psychodrama, romance and mystery mingle, but not cohesively.

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SINS

In Coll’s debut novel, a brilliant mathematician’s childhood tragedies pave an ominous path for her work and marriage.

Cathryn Barrington-Weiss is only 8 years old when her father dies, her mother commits suicide and her brother goes missing. After a bout in a psychiatric hospital, young Cathryn goes to Germany to live with her new guardian, family friend Dr. Isaac Schlosser. The girl keeps quiet about the conversation she overheard between her father and a mysterious man right before he died, and a note her mother wrote explaining everything. Cathryn’s aptitude for math and science leads to her life’s work in quantitative psychologistics, a concept based on Asimov’s fictional science of psychohistory. While launching her project, affectionately named “little isaac,” Cathryn falls in love with the tenacious, controlling Carl von Wahrberg, an older man about to serve time for shady financial dealings. Her first and only night with him leads to twins and a new life together post-incarceration, in a town where people are not quick to forgive notorious Carl. A whirlwind of events leaves readers wondering what to anticipate. Coll is skilled in dropping enticements and dotting the tale with divergent characters such as Dr. Alison Burke, a fling from Carl’s past, and Therese, the nanny in love with Cathryn. But a multitude of unrealistic episodes impede the flow. Belief is hard won upon seeing the twins, who don’t meet their father until they’re 9 years old, fervently embrace him on sight. Readers may also find it difficult to trust Cathyrn’s unrelenting love for a man she spent only hours with 10 years ago. Coincidences—such as running into Carl a decade after their one night together the moment she arrives on his turf, ready to put her past to rest—contribute to a loss of confidence in an otherwise engaging narrative. Also, characters and plotlines disappear for long intervals: Little isaac, the brainchild Cathryn shrouds in security measures bordering on paranoia, is ignored for lengthy stretches, creating a disjointed effect in the storytelling. But a few surprises and a gratifying ending save face in this story of uncertain genre.

Psychodrama, romance and mystery mingle, but not cohesively.

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2012

ISBN: 978-1466382176

Page Count: 290

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2012

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An indifferent addition to the long-running series about British aristocrats and their romantic and financial concerns.

SOMEONE TO ROMANCE

In a new, baggy Westcott family novel, Lady Jessica Archer demands romance and recognition of her inner self from an American newcomer to Regency London.

A brief encounter at an inn gives Jessica, the sister of the Duke of Netherby, and Gabriel Thorne, a merchant from Boston, an initial dislike of each other. But Gabriel has a secret about his identity, and he believes its eventual revelation requires that he have an aristocratic wife at his side—one he decides will be the patrician Jessica. At 25, Jessica is finally ready to marry. Yet she is unenthusiastic about her choices until two men, including Gabriel, show an interest. Gabriel is a hard character to like, however, because of his deception about who he is, his odd choice to remain in London despite the need to rescue a needy family member in the country—and the troubling implications of the fact that he has made money in shipping in pre–Civil War America. Even when his motivation for staying mum about his true identity is revealed, one struggles to feel sympathetic since he seems to prioritize his own griefs over the wrongs done to a woman. His past suffering and Jessica’s desire for him serve to justify her falling in love, but despite some tender moments, the relationship feels contrived. It’s an anomaly in Balogh’s usually deft unpacking of human weakness and worth, better displayed in Someone To Remember (2019). Similarly, Gabriel’s relatives are two-dimensional, with one being a virtuous disabled person mainly meant to show Gabriel in a positive light. As in many novels in this series, the plot gets bogged down by the backstory and crowded by all the Westcotts who show up insistently. The conclusion turns into something of a comedy of humors and has a deus ex machina twist that resolves matters.

An indifferent addition to the long-running series about British aristocrats and their romantic and financial concerns.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-19861-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A quick, fun enemies-to-lovers tale that’s equal parts hilarious and sexy.

THE WEDDING DATE DISASTER

An ambitious country transplant gets saddled with an infuriating plus-one in this romance.

Hadley Donavan moved to Harbor City with big dreams—namely, taking nonprofit organizations to the next level as a charitable giving consultant. Sadly, things aren’t going to plan. She’s broke, shares a tiny apartment with a roommate, and is fired from her job thanks to an unexpected kiss at a work event with Will Holt, an old-money CEO and the “evil” twin brother of Hadley’s best friend, Web. Now Hadley’s heading home to Nebraska for her sister’s wedding and a week of festivities with her tightknit, blended family, with Web as her platonic date. But thanks to a last-minute bout of food poisoning, it’s Will—who’s fighting his lust for Hadley while questioning her intentions with his open-hearted brother—who shows up at the airport to escort her to the wedding. As they fake a relationship for her relatives, the city boy’s and country girl’s clashing personalities soon result in an unforgettable sexual encounter. While Will wins over her protective but loving relatives through quirky game nights and a surprise dance at a retirement home, Hadley must reconcile her growing feelings for him with the secret she’s keeping from her family: that her supposedly glamorous urban life is actually full of uncertainty. Though Will uses the term “gold digger” one too many times in describing Hadley’s possible motivations, Flynn’s writing is sharp and sweet, with two finely drawn main characters with relatable obstacles and hang-ups. Hadley wants to find success in Harbor City while making a difference, and Will—an orphan with a privileged but lonely upbringing—is fiercely protective of his twin brother. Hadley’s extended family is a pure joy to read about, especially her nurturing rancher stepfather, Gabe Martinez, and PawPaw, her spunky grandfather who proudly juggles three girlfriends. PawPaw quickly figures out Hadley and Will’s relationship lie and their growing affection for each other. Intimate scenes strike the perfect balance of sensual and emotional.

A quick, fun enemies-to-lovers tale that’s equal parts hilarious and sexy.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64063-912-6

Page Count: 330

Publisher: Entangled: Amara

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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