Funny, deep, and romantic as hell. Will leave you smiling for days.

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TAKE A HINT, DANI BROWN

From the Brown Sisters series , Vol. 2

Can a bearded, romance-reading, retired rugby pro convince a Type A grad student to make room for love?

Zafir Ansari has been through hell and come out the other side. Seven years ago, his professional rugby career was cut short when he lost his brother and father in a car accident and sank into a clinical depression. Today, he works security at a university while volunteering for a youth rugby team and building his nonprofit, Tackle It, to help destigmatize mental illness and teach coping skills to young athletes. He has a major crush on workaholic, hyperrational Ph.D. student Danika Brown, who teaches in his building, but Zaf is pretty sure she's gay. They become a social media sensation thanks to a viral video of Zaf carrying pink-haired Dani to safety after an elevator mishap. Zafir asks Dani to pretend they're a couple to gain exposure for his charity, and the temporary arrangement is perfect for Dani, who is bi and only does “situationships” anyway. While bantering hilariously and having sex whenever possible, they both catch feelings, but Danika buries hers. As for Zaf, “his feelings for Dani were like sunlight: they’d always find a crack to slip through, a way to light things up.” Zafir treads carefully, introducing balance to Danika's life with home-cooked meals and insanely hot sex. Dani’s support helps Zaf reclaim his minor celebrity as a Muslim former pro rugby player (a rarity in Britain) and share publicly the personal tragedy that led him to found Tackle It. With Danika, Hibbert playfully subverts expectations, elevating the “too busy for romance” trope by giving her challenging personality traits that won’t disappear with a good shag and a few “I love you”s. She also wisely gives Zafir more to do than love Dani unconditionally, as deliciously swoonworthy as that is: He has to embrace his tragic past, as it's part of the man he is today.

Funny, deep, and romantic as hell. Will leave you smiling for days.

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-294123-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Despite the false start, this heartwarming story sweetly balances friendship and mother-child bonding with romantic love.

WINDOW ON THE BAY

Macomber (Be a Blessing, 2019, etc.) threatens to set her latest beach read in Paris, but her characters have other plans.

Maureen Zelinski and Jenna Boltz have been friends since college. Years ago, their plans to go to Paris were thwarted when Maureen found out she was pregnant. Now that they’re both single mothers whose children have left the nest, the time is right to dust off their passports and try again. In a somewhat disappointing turn of events, Maureen and Jenna don’t make it to Paris just yet. Instead, they stay in Seattle and pursue new love interests. Jenna, a nurse, meets orthopedic surgeon Dr. Rowan Lancaster in the emergency room after her mother falls and hurts her hip. Maureen, against her better judgment, accepts a date with Logan, a union plumber who frequents the library where she works. Jenna is afraid to date a co-worker after her workplace romance with her ex failed, but when Rowan proves to be a good listener, she’s more willing to discuss her options. Maureen doesn’t think she’ll fit in with Logan and his beer-drinking buddies, but she’s surprised when she enjoys their date at a football game. Meanwhile, Jenna worries about her children, Allie and Paul, as they navigate college and life. Though the story is primarily told from the two mothers’ perspectives, Allie breaks into the narrative with a surprising connection to Rowan. Maureen’s daughter, Tori, also takes on the role of confidante. The happy endings (and potential travel plans) unfold with a touch of realism to contrast the idyllic backdrop of the Pacific Northwest.

Despite the false start, this heartwarming story sweetly balances friendship and mother-child bonding with romantic love.

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-18133-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

OUTFOX

An FBI agent is determined to catch a man who bilks and murders wealthy women, but the chase goes slowly.

Brown (Tailspin, 2018, etc.) has published 70 bestsellers, and this one employs her usual template of thriller spiked with romance. Its main character, Drex Easton, is an FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer, but for him it’s personal. When he was a boy, his mother left him and his father for another man, Weston Graham. Drex believes Graham murdered her and that he has killed at least seven more women after emptying their bank accounts. Now he thinks he has the clever Graham—current alias Jasper Ford—in his sights, and he’s willing to put his career at risk to catch him. The women Ford targets are wealthy, and his new prey is no exception—except that, uncharacteristically, he has married her. Talia Ford proves to be a complication for Drex, who instantly falls in lust with her even though he’s not at all sure she isn’t her husband's accomplice. Posing as a would-be novelist, Drex moves into an apartment next door to the Fords’ posh home and tries to ingratiate himself, but tensions rise immediately—Jasper is suspicious, and Talia has mixed feelings about Drex's flirtatious behavior. When Talia’s fun-loving friend Elaine Conner turns up dead after a cruise on her yacht and Jasper disappears, Drex and Talia become allies. There are a few action sequences and fewer sex scenes, but the novel’s pace bogs down repeatedly in long, mundane conversations. Drex's two FBI agent sidekicks are more interesting characters than he is; Drex himself is such a caricature of a macho man, so heedless of ethics, and so aggressive toward women that it’s tough to see him as a good guy. Brown adds a couple of implausible twists at the very end that make him seem almost as untrustworthy as Graham.

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7219-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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