A promising start that could use another edit.

Lost Pants Mine: Gold, Love, Adventure

A geologist finds gold-mining adventure in Brandt’s debut novel.

Mark Mackenzie, a rising geology professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, has a beautiful young lover named Ursula Sadler, heiress to the Sadler Corporation, long a Reno institution. Frank Adams, an old prospector with whom Mark has become friendly, thinks he can find the legendary Lost Pants gold mine, located, he thinks, near the headwaters of a river on the east side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. “I need your help to pull it off,” Frank tells Mark. “I’m too damn old to go it alone, and I am essentially broke. The story of my life.” So he, Mark, and Mark’s flaky younger brother, Quid, traipse into the High Sierra in search of it. Mark wants to get and sell enough gold so he’s no longer intimidated by Sadler money; Frank wants to satisfy his belief that the mine actually exists; Quid just wants money, lots of it. They locate the Lost Pants—or, anyway, some abandoned mine—and find “free” (unbound) gold lying about, some old tools, and a skeleton. Then three banditos show up, though Quid gets the drop on them and sends them packing (we haven’t seen the last of them). Winter sets in, and an earthquake shakes things up. The trio goes back and forth, hoping some research will help their mission. Meanwhile, old Reinhold Sadler dies, so Ursula takes charge and has to save the shaky Sadler enterprises, at which point the narrative action swings between dangerous gold mine and tense boardroom. Details about gold mining and business maneuvering show Brandt at his best. Does it all work out in the end? Mostly, though Brandt leaves some questions unanswered: where did Quid and his latest girlfriend fetch up? Whose skeleton was that? Was the mine, in fact, the Lost Pants, and was it really salted? In the crowded plot, unnecessary details pop up—Goldman Sachs, readers are reminded, is “a multinational investment firm”—and word choice can be off target. But this is more entertainment than serious novel, and the story moves at a smart pace while delivering some solid thrills.

A promising start that could use another edit.

Pub Date: July 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5084-1939-6

Page Count: 452

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2015

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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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A smooth blend of suspense and romance. As ever, the author's trademark effortless style keeps a complex plot moving without...

THE VILLA

Megaselling Roberts (River's End, 1999, etc.) goes to Napa Valley for the tale of an Italian-American family wine producers rocked by scandal and a series of murders.

Dynasty head Tereza Giambelli knows that her granddaughter Sophia is the only family member capable of running a multimillion-dollar wine business—and no one contradicts La Signora. It's just as well the lovely young woman is still single: Tereza has plans for her. The matriarch has recently married Eli MacMillan, the American founder of another famous wine company. Eli's grandson Tyler knows everything there is to know about producing wine, from the vineyard to the vat. Ruggedly handsome, intelligent and earthy, he's a perfect match for public-relations whiz Sophia—or so thinks Tereza. The two young people begin to work together; Tyler teaches Sophia the fine art of making wine and making love. But other family members hope to claim their share of the Giambelli fortune, and people start dying mysteriously, including Sophia's good-for-nothing father, Tony Avano. Long divorced from long-suffering Pilar Giambelli, Tony led an opulent, self-indulgent life that provides plenty of murder suspects. He might have been killed by the mob, or a jealous mistress, or his spoiled brother-in-law, Tereza's lazy son, who's produced a passel of brats with his foolish Italian wife in the hopes of making Tereza happy. Everyone has a motive, and nothing is what it seems, Sophia discovers, but Tyler stands by her. Then a bottle of tainted merlot kills a company exec. A tragic mishap caused by poisonous plants growing near the vines? Or deliberate product tampering intended to destroy the company? Sophia and Tyler will need to delve even deeper into the convoluted and sometimes unsavory history of the family and its three-generation business.

A smooth blend of suspense and romance. As ever, the author's trademark effortless style keeps a complex plot moving without a hitch.

Pub Date: March 19, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-14712-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

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