The references to Oscar Wilde’s play are more of a tribute than a straight retelling, which keeps this hilarious and lively...

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THE ACCIDENTAL COUNTESS

A group of friends performs a complicated ruse to help Lady Cassandra Monroe woo her cousin’s intended in this Regency romance that borrows liberally from The Importance of Being Earnest.

Bowman (The Unexpected Duchess, 2014, etc.) returns to her Playful Brides series with an aging debutante who secretly loves Capt. Julian Swift, the man who is all but engaged to her cousin Penelope. Julian has been at war for seven years, buoyed through the horrors of the battlefield by regular letters from Cass. Now he has returned to England, ready to seek out Penelope and tell her he can’t marry her after all. But Penelope, who doesn't want to marry him either, and thinks thinks he intends to formalize their engagement, invents a convenient friend in the country named Patience Bunbury and pretends to have gone to visit her in order to avoid seeing him. Meanwhile, Cassandra’s friend Lucy Hunt, the new Duchess of Claringdon, concocts a crazy scheme to allow Cass and Julian to spend some time together. She persuades Cass to pretend to be Patience Bunbury and lure Julian to the country for a house party. Lucy is sure that a few days spent in Cassandra’s company will persuade Julian that he loves her and that he will forgive their deception once he finds out that Patience is really his dear friend and correspondent, Cassandra. All seems to be working out when Julian doesn’t recognize Cassandra, who has transformed from a gawky teenager into a total bombshell in the years he’s been away. But as more and more friends and relatives are drawn into the deception, it seems inevitable that Julian will learn the truth before Cass gets up the nerve to tell him herself.

The references to Oscar Wilde’s play are more of a tribute than a straight retelling, which keeps this hilarious and lively story from becoming too predictable. Bowman is one to watch.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-04208-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 8, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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A promising start to a series, provided Roberts can flesh out her derivative heroine.

THE WITNESS

A young woman in hiding from the Russian mob faces a difficult decision when she falls in love with a cop.

Abigail, 28, lives alone in the bucolic hamlet of Bickford, Ark., in an isolated house, fortified with firearms, a state-of-the-art alarm system and a vicious dog named Bert. When the town’s genial police chief, Brooks, suspects Abigail is packing while shopping for gourmet groceries, his curiosity soon morphs into courtship. Although she finds herself drawn to Brooks and to his welcoming, bohemian family, Abigail dares not reveal that her real name is Liz—which is not the only way in which she appears to be Roberts’ answer to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Gifted with an eidetic memory, an IQ over 200 and an affinity for cool, calculated mayhem, Liz/Abigail is a skilled hacker and a highly paid security consultant. In her spare time she investigates the Russian mob and the crooked federal agents who are responsible for her current predicament; whenever possible, she throws virtual monkey wrenches into the mob’s Internet scams. When she witnesses an altercation between Brooks and the wastrel son of a local magnate, she’s thrust back into the horror of the last time she witnessed a crime. At 16, rebelling against an unloving, controlling mother, Liz and a girlfriend, Julie, visited a Chicago nightclub run by the Russian Mafia, where Ilya, son of gang kingpin Sergei, and Alexi, a cousin, seduced them with Cosmos. Later, at Alexi’s lakeside home, Liz was an unseen witness to a hit on Alexi by Sergei’s enforcers, who also killed Julie. Managing to escape, Liz was forced to run again when two dirty FBI agents destroyed her safe house and murdered her guards. A person of interest to both the Feds and the mob, she’s been on the lam for 12 years. Before they can marry, Brooks must help Liz come in from the cold.

A promising start to a series, provided Roberts can flesh out her derivative heroine.

Pub Date: April 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-15912-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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