The first in a multicultural #OwnVoices romance series, with an enemies-to-lovers central plot and distinctive supporting...

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PRIDE, PREJUDICE, AND OTHER FLAVORS

A workaholic, socially inept Indian-American brain surgeon is caught off guard by her attraction to a Rwandan/Anglo-Indian chef in this rewrite of Pride and Prejudice.

Trisha Raje is a princess whose family prides itself on its aristocratic Indian roots as well as its integration into American life. The Rajes are preparing for their scion’s gubernatorial campaign in the Bay Area when Trisha rejoins them after a period of estrangement (caused by her former college roommate). She and chef Darcy "DJ" Caine meet at a political event and sparks fly, but for all the wrong reasons. While the two try to smooth things over, subsequent encounters exacerbate their hostility and class divide. Yet, as any Austen fan knows, the fallout of their pride and biases will eventually be resolved. Dev (A Distant Heart, 2017, etc.) credibly reworks a beloved novel to include diverse representation, and her use of dual points of view reveals the internal lives of both protagonists. DJ’s love for Indian cooking is also an interesting flip of a more traditional script. But Dev creates equivalents to Regency England partly through a discomfiting choice to valorize Trisha’s royal Indian genes—not only does she descend from ancestors who fought the medieval Islamic Mughal rulers and the British Empire and joined the Indian freedom struggle, her relatives are good royals who practice noblesse oblige (including on visits to Africa) and nurture a household (including a member who is differently abled) and have an upper-class sense of art and music. This complimentary take on the one percent is common in the genre, but what is problematic here is that romanticizing a royal identity normalizes the caste hierarchy still practiced (albeit illegally) in South Asian society, including in the contemporary diaspora. So while this is undoubtedly a charming attempt to weave in Indian history and Maharashtrian culture (and address #MeToo), the novel is limited to a lovely but upper-class Hindu family’s tribulations and triumphs, reiterating a tendency among Indian cultural producers to limit happily-ever-afters to this group.

The first in a multicultural #OwnVoices romance series, with an enemies-to-lovers central plot and distinctive supporting characters whose histories and dramas play out alongside the love story.

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-283905-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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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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