A charming and unexpectedly touching behind-the-scenes look at the pageant world.

READ REVIEW

THE ACCIDENTAL BEAUTY QUEEN

A happily nerdy elementary school librarian ends up competing in a beauty pageant in this fun and frothy read.

Charlotte Gorman loves her twin sister, Ginny, but the two couldn’t be more different. After their mother died when they were small children, Charlotte retreated into books like their professor father, while Ginny stepped into their beauty queen mother’s high heels. Now that they’re adults, Charlotte is tagging along as Ginny competes for the title of Miss American Treasure in Orlando, Florida. For Ginny, it’s the very last chance to win the title before she turns 30 and ages out of the competition, but Charlotte’s mostly excited to get her nerd on at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter while Ginny competes. That is, until Ginny has a major allergic reaction. With a swollen face, she can’t possibly take part in the pageant…but luckily, Charlotte looks just like Ginny. Well, with a lot of makeup and hairspray, that is. Even though the dishonesty makes her nervous, Charlotte reluctantly agrees to compete in Ginny’s place and soon finds herself learning to walk in heels, wearing a bikini on stage, and befriending the other contestants. But as Ginny hides in their hotel room, Charlotte is doing a lot more than just competing for the crown. She’s also developing a relationship with one of the judges, a Mr. Darcy–esque man who picks up on all her literary references. The only problem is that he thinks she’s Ginny. How long can Charlotte keep up this charade before she’s found out? Wilson (The Art of Us, 2016, etc.) takes what seems like a preposterous premise and turns it into delightfully escapist fun. Charlotte is an engaging narrator, and even though she goes into the pageant with some negative assumptions about her competitors, the story is refreshingly free of cynicism—the contestants are smart, accomplished professionals who support each other and also happen to look great in fancy dresses.

A charming and unexpectedly touching behind-the-scenes look at the pageant world.

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-9760-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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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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