A pleasantly sweet tale about true love, fate, and family.

READ REVIEW

DREAMING IN CHOCOLATE

A woman runs a magical chocolate shop in this heartwarming story from Crispell (The Secret Ingredient of Wishes, 2016).

Penelope Dalton and her mother, Sabina, run the Chocolate Cottage. They sell plenty of “regular” chocolate, but their most popular offerings include a little something extra: magic. Their special wares can make people dream about their futures and become temporarily happy or lucky. The magic comes from a mysterious cabinet that provides them with recipes for what they really need, like truffles that can mend a broken heart. But even though Penelope makes these chocolates, she doesn’t trust them. For all the magic her chocolate can produce, it can’t cure her daughter, Ella, who has an inoperable brain tumor. Ella doesn’t have long to live, so Penelope spends most of her time helping her check items off her bucket list—things like eating cake for breakfast and dyeing her hair purple. But a big distraction comes to town in the form of Noah Gregory, Penelope’s high school sweetheart—and, unbeknownst to him and everyone else, Ella’s dad. Under the hot chocolate’s spell, Penelope once dreamed that Noah was her true love—but when she told him so and he left town, she assumed the magic was wrong. Now that he’s back, Penelope has to juggle her feelings for him, her cynicism about the magic, and the desire to tell him the truth about Ella. All of this takes place in the charmingly named town of Malarkey, home to many quirky residents who love festivals and hold town meetings to mediate disputes—sort of like a fantastical version of Stars Hollow in Gilmore Girls. How the cabinet came to produce magical recipes is never really explained in detail, and most townspeople seem to accept the magic a little too readily. That’s forgivable, though, since the focus here is more on the fraught relationships between characters instead of the mechanics behind the magic. Readers looking for a feel-good story with a little bit of enchantment sprinkled in will eat this one up.

A pleasantly sweet tale about true love, fate, and family.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-08907-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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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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