A fun and fast-moving read, and better edited than many of Laurens’ past efforts. Highly recommended.

READ REVIEW

THE TEMPTING OF THOMAS CARRICK

A straight-laced Glasgow businessman is drawn back into clan politics and a romance with a woman from a neighboring estate.

Laurens (By Winter’s Light, 2014, etc.) returns to her popular Cynster series with this romantic mystery set in mid-19th-century Scotland. Thomas Carrick is looking for “the right sort of wife for a gentleman of the type he intended to become—a pillar of the wealthy business community.” But a plea for help from farmers on his uncle’s estate causes him to abandon Glasgow suddenly. His wastrel cousins are taking advantage of their father the laird’s lingering illness to plunder the clan’s coffers. Thomas is determined to set things right, even though it means encountering the witchy woman on the next estate, Lucilla Cynster, who has held him in thrall for many years. Lucilla, on the other hand, has been waiting for Thomas to figure out that a marriage between them has been preordained by the Lady, a local deity embodied by Lucilla’s mother. She believes Thomas is her consort, chosen by the Lady to be the future caretaker of Lucilla and her people. Together, they work to solve the mystery of recent foul deeds on Carrick land and have fabulous sex around the edges. The book falls prey to the annoying tics common in Laurens’ prose (can you really sigh inwardly, catch your mental breath, mentally blink or rock back on your mental heels?) but is a fairly successful example of cross-genre experiments in which classic mystery and historical romance and even fantasy tropes are combined. The solution to the mystery is wonderfully unpredictable, and both Thomas and Lucilla are flawed and likable characters.

A fun and fast-moving read, and better edited than many of Laurens’ past efforts. Highly recommended.

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7783-1782-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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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 clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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