A romance with a believable premise, but its unsympathetic protagonist makes it fall flat.

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His Kate

Krawitz’s debut novel, set squarely in Nicholas Sparks–style territory, offers a romance between a computer programmer and a public relations executive.

Greg Janera is a 20-something man without a plan. He’s gainfully employed as an app designer and happily devoted to his dog, Rocky, but he’s less attached to his girlfriend, Heather, a successful event planner who’s four years his senior. Although there isn’t anything particularly wrong with the relationship, he just can’t see himself settling down with her in the way she expects. When the two take a relationship break following an awkward moment involving an engagement ring at Tiffany’s, Greg isn’t sure what to do. Then he crosses paths with single PR exec Kate Shuster at the park, and the two immediately hit it off. Greg is drawn to her kind, easygoing nature, and Kate finds Greg funny, intelligent, and very handsome. Before long, they fall in love, and Greg decides to break up with his old girlfriend permanently. But when he meets with Heather, she reveals that she’s pregnant. What was once a no-brainer decision becomes an agonizing choice for Greg, who wants to do right by his babies (Heather’s pregnant with twins) but can’t imagine a life without Kate. Instead of being honest with Heather, he makes a decision that has repercussions that last for years. There are moments in this book that appealingly feel like real life; Greg and Kate’s initial connection is believable and charming, and Krawitz has a knack for capturing day-to-day moments with perfect clarity; one particular incident involving a tuna casserole will ring true to any frazzled new parent. However, the author is less successful at garnering sympathy for Greg. It’s only correct for him to want to be a good father to his children, but it’s disappointing that he doesn’t feel the need to be honest with Heather, a woman who deserves the same love and respect that he feels for Kate. He paints himself as making a noble sacrifice, but he sometimes comes across as cowardly. The ending, which removes any sort of accountability from Greg’s shoulders, is also unsatisfying.

A romance with a believable premise, but its unsympathetic protagonist makes it fall flat.

Pub Date: March 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4808-2831-5

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

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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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A promising start to a series, provided Roberts can flesh out her derivative heroine.

THE WITNESS

A young woman in hiding from the Russian mob faces a difficult decision when she falls in love with a cop.

Abigail, 28, lives alone in the bucolic hamlet of Bickford, Ark., in an isolated house, fortified with firearms, a state-of-the-art alarm system and a vicious dog named Bert. When the town’s genial police chief, Brooks, suspects Abigail is packing while shopping for gourmet groceries, his curiosity soon morphs into courtship. Although she finds herself drawn to Brooks and to his welcoming, bohemian family, Abigail dares not reveal that her real name is Liz—which is not the only way in which she appears to be Roberts’ answer to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Gifted with an eidetic memory, an IQ over 200 and an affinity for cool, calculated mayhem, Liz/Abigail is a skilled hacker and a highly paid security consultant. In her spare time she investigates the Russian mob and the crooked federal agents who are responsible for her current predicament; whenever possible, she throws virtual monkey wrenches into the mob’s Internet scams. When she witnesses an altercation between Brooks and the wastrel son of a local magnate, she’s thrust back into the horror of the last time she witnessed a crime. At 16, rebelling against an unloving, controlling mother, Liz and a girlfriend, Julie, visited a Chicago nightclub run by the Russian Mafia, where Ilya, son of gang kingpin Sergei, and Alexi, a cousin, seduced them with Cosmos. Later, at Alexi’s lakeside home, Liz was an unseen witness to a hit on Alexi by Sergei’s enforcers, who also killed Julie. Managing to escape, Liz was forced to run again when two dirty FBI agents destroyed her safe house and murdered her guards. A person of interest to both the Feds and the mob, she’s been on the lam for 12 years. Before they can marry, Brooks must help Liz come in from the cold.

A promising start to a series, provided Roberts can flesh out her derivative heroine.

Pub Date: April 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-15912-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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