Undemandingly pleasurable and guaranteed to go on the reread shelf.

DEVIL IN DISGUISE

From the Ravenels series , Vol. 7

A Scottish distiller, a businesswoman in Victorian London, an explosive attraction.

Kleypas' beloved Wallflower/Ravenels series crossover continues with the next generation of feisty descendants, this time Lord Marcus and Lady Lillian Westcliff’s widowed daughter. Drawn irresistibly to a client of her shipping company, Lady Merritt Sterling coaxes an equally smitten Keir MacRae to spend a night with her. While convinced that their unequal birth and upbringing make them ill-matched for a real relationship, Keir tells himself it’s a memory he can cherish forever. But disaster strikes soon after, allowing Kleypas to deploy the classic "nursing a hurt lover to recovery" trope, with a twist that turns Merritt and Keir's bond into a variation of the second-chance romance. As the search for the cause of the attack on Keir leads to questions about his birth, a favorite Wallflower character looms large, with plenty of clues (including the title) to tell the reader why our hero is mistaken about his lineage. The third act is slightly anticlimactic, with all the nonromance action having occurred in Act 1 and served as a plot device to bring the romance and other relationships into being in Act 2. While Kleypas takes no risks to push her oeuvre in new directions, the novel abounds in the vintage pleasures of her writing: finely drawn characters; a tactile, sensuous style in both the sex scenes and the landscape descriptions; banter that illustrates the emotional compatibility of romantic partners; dual points of view that show both the hero’s and the heroine’s interior lives; moving moments of familial ties; and glimpses of couples from other novels to assure us that love lasts forever.

Undemandingly pleasurable and guaranteed to go on the reread shelf.

Pub Date: July 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-237196-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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A warm and winning When Harry Met Sally…update that hits all the perfect notes.

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PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION

A travel writer has one last shot at reconnecting with the best friend she just might be in love with.

Poppy and Alex couldn't be more different. She loves wearing bright colors while he prefers khakis and a T-shirt. She likes just about everything while he’s a bit more discerning. And yet, their opposites-attract friendship works because they love each other…in a totally platonic way. Probably. Even though they have their own separate lives (Poppy lives in New York City and is a travel writer with a popular Instagram account; Alex is a high school teacher in their tiny Ohio hometown), they still manage to get together each summer for one fabulous vacation. They grow closer every year, but Poppy doesn’t let herself linger on her feelings for Alex—she doesn’t want to ruin their friendship or the way she can be fully herself with him. They continue to date other people, even bringing their serious partners on their summer vacations…but then, after a falling-out, they stop speaking. When Poppy finds herself facing a serious bout of ennui, unhappy with her glamorous job and the life she’s been dreaming of forever, she thinks back to the last time she was truly happy: her last vacation with Alex. And so, though they haven’t spoken in two years, she asks him to take another vacation with her. She’s determined to bridge the gap that’s formed between them and become best friends again, but to do that, she’ll have to be honest with Alex—and herself—about her true feelings. In chapters that jump around in time, Henry shows readers the progression (and dissolution) of Poppy and Alex’s friendship. Their slow-burn love story hits on beloved romance tropes (such as there unexpectedly being only one bed on the reconciliation trip Poppy plans) while still feeling entirely fresh. Henry’s biggest strength is in the sparkling, often laugh-out-loud-funny dialogue, particularly the banter-filled conversations between Poppy and Alex. But there’s depth to the story, too—Poppy’s feeling of dissatisfaction with a life that should be making her happy as well as her unresolved feelings toward the difficult parts of her childhood make her a sympathetic and relatable character. The end result is a story that pays homage to classic romantic comedies while having a point of view all its own.

A warm and winning When Harry Met Sally…update that hits all the perfect notes.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0675-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Readers are sure to fall under the magic spell of Thistle Grove and its inhabitants.

PAYBACK'S A WITCH

A young witch, desperate for a normal life, reluctantly returns to her magical hometown for a traditional gathering.

After almost five years living a magic-free life in Chicago, Emmy Harlow thought she'd finally gotten Thistle Grove out of her system for good. Driven away by a horrible breakup with her first love, Gareth Blackmoore, and her dissatisfaction with being a member of the weakest of the town’s four witchy clans, Emmy is sure she’s much happier in the city working for faux magic subscription service Enchantify than she ever could be at home. But her duty as scion of the Harlow family means her presence is expected at this year’s Gauntlet of the Grove. Held every 50 years, the competition tests the strength, wit, and skills of each of the town’s three most powerful families—the Blackmoores, the Avramovs, and the Thorns—with the Harlows acting as arbiters and record-keepers. The winning family’s magic power is increased, bending fortune in their favor and giving them ultimate influence over the town and its economy. Since the Blackmoores have been winning “since pretty much time’s inception,” the other families and their respective businesses are now struggling to survive. When Emmy is approached by her best friend, Linden Thorn, and the gorgeous Avramov scion, Talia, with a scheme to rig the competition against Blackmoore scion Gareth, she agrees—changing the course of the families’ histories forever in the process. The action of the Gauntlet takes a back seat to the characters’ personal dramas and the intense romance that develops between Emmy and Talia. But the author’s writing shines in the small moments, particularly in the lush language used to capture the enchanting, autumnal atmosphere of quaint Thistle Grove and its supernatural allure.

Readers are sure to fall under the magic spell of Thistle Grove and its inhabitants.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-33606-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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