A brilliant, enchanting, and soul-satisfying romance.

WHEN A SCOT TIES THE KNOT

A young debutante creates a fictional soldier-sweetheart, conveniently away in the war, to avoid a London season, then is stunned when, years later, the embodiment of her imagined beau shows up on her doorstep, prepared to marry her.

Miss Madeline Gracechurch is good with drawing pencils but terrified of drawing rooms and especially crowds, becoming so painfully shy that she literally freezes up, practically unable to speak or move. So, at 16, on the cusp of a London season, she creates a fictional suitor and actually writes to him, Capt. Logan MacKenzie, then spends five years "corresponding" with her fictional love, pouring out her teenage heart and posting letters off, imagining them landing in some enormous lost-mail room. Finally, out of guilt for the long deception she’s created, she kills him off and pretends to go into mourning for her valiant captain, fallen in battle. In the meantime, she’s inherited a castle in Scotland and has established a career as an illustrator for naturalists. So it's something of a shock when one Highland Capt. MacKenzie arrives at her castle with a band of soldiers, ready to settle in, in effect blackmailing her into marriage by threatening to release her letters to a scandal sheet. “We marry for our own reasons, as a mutually beneficial agreement. I get the property. You’ll get your letters back.” Agreeing to a wedding but holding off the consummation, Maddie plans to find and destroy the letters, hence ending his hold over her. As the days pass, however, she discovers the man she created in letters is nothing to the one in the flesh and is astonished to find her own confidence and self-worth blossoming with his arrival and attention. But her fake, resurrected captain has a complicated past and mistrusts things she holds dear. Dare’s latest begins with a fairy-tale twist of fate, then leads readers on a mesmerizing and intense emotional journey that explores love in many forms and the powerful pull of dreams.

A brilliant, enchanting, and soul-satisfying romance.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-234902-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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RIVER'S END

Though Roberts (The Reef, 1998, etc.) never writes badly, her newest mystery romance is more inconsistent than most. Little Olivia MacBride, daughter of two golden Hollywood superstars, wakes up one night to see her coked-up father holding her mother’s bloody body, a scissors in his hand. After her dad is led off to prison, Liv is sent to live with her grandparents, who run a successful lodge in the Olympic rain forest on the Washington coast—a location far across the continent from the Maryland shores of Roberts’s Quinn trilogy, but one that allows her to explore another place of life-giving scenic wonder. And when Liv grows up and becomes a naturalist/guide, she gets to take us on lots of eye-dazzling tours. Into her sheltered paradise comes Noah Brady, the son of the police detective who arrested Liv’s father and has been her friend since childhood. Noah has grown up to be a bestselling true-crime writer, and, against Liv’s will, he wants to write his next book about the MacBride murder case. (Liv’s dad, about to be released from San Quentin, is dying of brain cancer.) Though Liv fights her attraction to Noah, he’s a persistent boy, and on an extended and very sexy camping trip, the two become lovers. Meanwhile, the real murderer, whose identity will probably be obvious to most readers, leaves his own trail of violence up to Washington and a final prime-evil shoot-out. Added to Roberts’s poorly drawn mystery and her interlude of swell lusty love is her usual theme of how wounded children and inner children are healed and nurtured by good nuclear families. If the conventional wisdom is true, that romance readers never tire of reruns of the same old same old, then Roberts won’t have disappointed them.

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-14470-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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Romance and melodrama mix uneasily with mass murder.

THE WINTER GUEST

An 18-year-old Polish girl falls in love, swoons over a first kiss, dreams of marriage—and, oh yes, we are in the middle of the Holocaust.

Jenoff (The Ambassador’s Daughter, 2013, etc.) weaves a tale of fevered teenage love in a time of horrors in the early 1940s, as the Nazis invade Poland and herd Jews into ghettos and concentration camps. A prologue set in 2013, narrated by a resident of the Westchester Senior Center, provides an intriguing setup. A woman and a policeman visit the resident and ask if she came from a small Polish village. Their purpose is unclear until they mention bones recently found there: “And we think you might know something about them.” The book proceeds in the third person, told from the points of view mostly of teenage Helena, who comes upon an injured young Jewish-American soldier, and sometimes of her twin, Ruth, who is not as adventurous as Helena but is very competitive with her. Their father is dead, their mother is dying in a hospital, and they are raising their three younger siblings amid danger and hardship. The romance between Helena and Sam, the soldier, is often conveyed in overheated language that doesn’t sit well with the era’s tragic events: “There had been an intensity to his embrace that said he was barely able to contain himself, that he also wanted more.” Jenoff, clearly on the side of tolerance, slips in a simplified historical framework for the uninformed. But she also feeds stereotypes, having Helena note that Sam has “a slight arch to his nose” and a dark complexion that “would make him suspect as a Jew immediately.” Clichés also pop up during the increasingly complex plot: “But even if they stood in place, the world around them would not.”

Romance and melodrama mix uneasily with mass murder.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7783-1596-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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