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GUARDIAN OF PARADISE

Lawrence blends romance, action, and beautiful scenery into an alluring concoction.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
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A fiendish merchant-ship captain is more invested in taking precious material from a South Pacific island than trading with locals in Lawrence’s debut adventure novel.

In the late 19th century, an Australian merchant navy ship lands at the island of Alofa. Islander Kira Wall is wary because previous traders who’d visited were greedy men who carelessly trampled through fields of plants and fruits. She doesn’t trust Capt. Coleman in the slightest. He seems too eager to offer bountiful goods, as if he were trying to distract the natives. Sure enough, Coleman is secretly scouring Alofa for diamonds that a pirate said he’d discovered on the island. The normally standoffish Kira struggles with her newfound affection for the handsome Dr. Trevor Marshall, the ship’s civilian physician and botanist, and they both look for a way to avoid a conflict between the crew and islanders. Meanwhile, Coleman tries to force Kira into revealing the diamonds’ location by kidnapping her best friend. Despite the tropical-paradise setting, this romance doesn’t dawdle. Instead, it follows two people falling in love while immersed in suspenseful scenes and the occasional action sequence. Kira is a laudable but bewildering protagonist. Her distrust of outsiders, for example, is odd, as she herself is the daughter of missionaries who came to Alofa. But she more than holds her own, boasting a thorough knowledge of the island’s interior and proving a formidable adversary in scuffles with men. Lawrence conveys the developing relationship between Kira and Trevor primarily via sex scenes, but the duo still has emotional resonance. As a villain, the captain is a worthy opponent (he even uses dynamite) with an ever present arrogance, while the few loyal crew members who stand by him are really just extensions of his corruption. The final act, in which Coleman targets Kira’s loved ones and inevitably faces off against her, could be trimmed, but it maintains momentum and delivers a satisfying finale.

Lawrence blends romance, action, and beautiful scenery into an alluring concoction.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1500602970

Page Count: 386

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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SEEING RED

As the plot grows more complicated, it also sheds believability, leaving sex and witty banter to carry the day.

Brown (Mean Streak, 2014, etc.) ticks off the boxes that elevate her books to the bestseller lists in this sexy romantic thriller set in Texas.

Rock-jawed hero with a dark past: check. Strong-willed, beautiful woman who resists his charms: check. A Whitman’s Sampler of bad guys: check. And finally, a convoluted and not always plausible plot: check. In this latest outing, readers meet TV journalist Kerra Bailey, whose family was torn apart years ago by a hotel bombing that killed 197 people in Dallas. Just in time for the 25th anniversary, Kerra scores an interview with the notoriously private Maj. Trapper, who saved her life, among others, when he emerged from the blast to lead the survivors out of danger. There's an iconic, prizewinning photo of the major carrying a little girl from the wreckage, but the child has never been identified—until now, when Kerra goes public with the information that it was her. Just after they finish filming the interview in his home, the major is shot, and an injured Kerra escapes in the confusion. The major’s son, disgraced Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent John Trapper—a name M*A*S*H fans will appreciate—steps in, igniting a chain of events that leads to murder, intrigue, betrayal, and a series of dark revelations. As with most of Brown’s heroes and heroines, there’s palpable sexual tension between Trapper, whose taut rear occupies ample literary real estate, and Kerra, who when dealing with Trapper feels “like he’d lightly scratched her just below her bellybutton” when he’s not making her “pleasure points throb.” The complex plot plays out in a round of reveals that don’t always make a lot of sense, but that’s not why Brown’s fans read her books. They check in for the witty, pitch-perfect dialogue and fluid writing. A master of her genre, Brown knows how to please her most ardent readers but relies too often on the same basic formula from novel to novel.

As the plot grows more complicated, it also sheds believability, leaving sex and witty banter to carry the day.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7210-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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ON MYSTIC LAKE

Hannah, after eight paperbacks, abandons her successful time-travelers for a hardcover life of kitchen-sink romance. Everyone must have got the Olympic Peninsula memo for this spring because, as of this reading, authors Hannah, Nora Roberts, and JoAnn Ross have all placed their newest romances in or near the Quinault rain forest. Here, 40ish Annie Colwater, returns to Washington State after her husband, high-powered Los Angeles lawyer Blake, tells her he’s found another (younger) woman and wants a divorce. Although a Stanford graduate, Annie has known only a life of perfect wifedom: matching Blake’s ties to his suits and cooking meals from Gourmet magazine. What is she to do with her shattered life? Well, she returns to dad’s house in the small town of Mystic, cuts off all her hair (for a different look), and goes to work as a nanny for lawman Nick Delacroix, whose wife has committed suicide, whose young daughter Izzy refuses to speak, and who himself has descended into despair and alcoholism. Annie spruces up Nick’s home on Mystic Lake and sends “Izzy-bear” back into speech mode. And, after Nick begins attending AA meetings, she and he become lovers. Still, when Annie learns that she’s pregnant not with Nick’s but with Blake’s child, she heads back to her empty life in the Malibu Colony. The baby arrives prematurely, and mean-spirited Blake doesn’t even stick around to support his wife. At this point, it’s perfectly clear to Annie—and the reader—that she’s justified in taking her newborn daughter and driving back north. Hannah’s characters indulge in so many stages of the weeps, from glassy eyes to flat-out sobs, that tear ducts are almost bound to stay dry. (First printing of 100,000; first serial to Good Housekeeping; Literary Guild/Doubleday book club selections)

Pub Date: March 31, 1999

ISBN: 0-609-60249-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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