A heartwarming, neurodiverse love story.

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THE GIRL HE USED TO KNOW

Living alone for the last 10 years has pushed Annika Rose, a woman on the autism spectrum, toward independence. Yet bumping into Jonathan Hoffman, her college sweetheart, in the frozen food section of their local grocery store sparks hope for something more.

Following a vicious bullying incident in seventh grade, Annika had been home-schooled, so college life challenged her. Luckily, just as she was about to throw in the towel and head back home, her compassionate roommate, Janice, took Annika under her wing, helping her to better read and respond to social cues. It was Janice who took Annika to her first chess club meeting, a place that became sacred to Annika. With the chess board in front of her, Annika could enter a space of clear rules and no confusing emotions, and it was at chess club that Annika and Jonathan first met. After she trounced him in their first game, Jonathan was smitten by the beautiful yet terribly shy Annika. Over the course of their senior year, Jonathan and Annika’s romance built from tentative touches into a passionate affair that crashed shortly after Jonathan took a job in New York. Now divorced and skittish, can Jonathan open his heart to Annika’s love again? Or will the mystery behind their breakup keep them apart? Telling the story primarily from Annika’s perspective, Graves (On the Island, 2012, etc.) mirrors Annika’s own logical, concrete thought patterns with straightforward sentence structure and minimal description. Careful to balance the emotional and intellectual power between Annika and Jonathan, Graves creates a believable love affair in which Annika is not infantilized but rather fully realized as simply different. And her differences become her strengths when catastrophe strikes, compelling Annika to take the lead for the first time in her life.

A heartwarming, neurodiverse love story.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20035-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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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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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