Log In

Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the Table-of-Contents Database.

Get a digital subscription to Publishers Weekly for only $19.95/month.

Your subscription gives you instant access exclusive feature articles on notable figures in the publishing industry, he latest industry news, interviews of up and coming authors and bestselling authors, and access over 200,000 book reviews.

PW "All Access" site license members have access to PW's subscriber-only website content. To find out more about PW's site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time.

Laura the Explorer

Sarah Begg. Sarah Begg, $7.99 trade paper (308p) ISBN 978-0-9876415-0-2

Australian author Begg’s debut totters unevenly between its moments of sexual slapstick and broad humor about 20-something anxiety, and its overly complicated small-world romance, never quite committing to either. Laura Baker tries to make a fresh start with a move into a Sydney flat after her marriage to her high school sweetheart, Jack, ends with the revelation that he is gay. Her new roommates, Ben and Kalina, convince her to revisit her missed opportunity to sleep around. Meanwhile, she avoids her mother’s matchmaking and develops a crush on the mysterious Lucas, whom she keeps running into around town. The roommate dynamic has smart dialogue and energetic playfulness, but Laura’s relationships with family and work friends are stereotyped, and her internal monologue is obvious and fussy. Though there’s true humor in the bad sex vignettes, Begg never allows her heroine to really enjoy her casual encounters, denying frustrated readers the joy of the vicarious romp in favor of a milquetoast romance and vague self-discovery. If Begg commits wholeheartedly to her comedy in future books, she could be an author to watch. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 09/06/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
American Love Story (Dreamers #3)

Adriana Herrera. Carina, $8.99 mass market (368p) ISBN 978-1-335-21597-0

Herrera’s intriguing third Dreamers contemporary occasionally bogs down as its protagonists struggle to feel worthy of each other. In Ithaca, N.Y., Patrice Denis, a Cornell professor and social justice activist, and Easton Archer, interim Tompkins County district attorney, attempt to pick up where their steamy fling left off in American Dreamer. A year after being ghosted by Patrice, Easton encounters him at the local grocery and they reconnect. But subsequent attempts to revive their romance are complicated by a rash of racially motivated traffic stops throughout the county. It’s Easton’s job to defuse the situation before it escalates, and it’s Patrice’s job to protest when he doesn’t. With all their differences and justice on the line, love may not be enough. Herrera delicately weaves a difficult romance around the serious topics of institutional racism, privilege, and social responsibility. As the book often states, there are no easy solutions, and Herrera’s emotionally charged character study demonstrates this well. The downside is that readers never see the protagonists at their best, making it hard to believe in their conflict-plagued romance. Fans of previous installments will find this one doesn’t quite sparkle as much, but it’s still worth reading. Agent: Linda Camacho, Gallt & Zacker Literary. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/06/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Locked Down (Texas Heroes #2)

Jess Anastasi. Dreamspinner, $14.99 trade paper (238p) ISBN 978-1-64405-218-1

Anastasi’s lackluster contemporary has plenty of sex but minimal story. FBI analyst Gabriel Lopez helps Matt York with a flat tire near Everness, Tex. Though instantly attracted, they fail to exchange phone numbers, a problem immediately rectified when they coincidentally occupy adjoining motel rooms. Both seek information about the ALP, a local white supremacist group; Gabe is investigating them for the FBI and Matt hopes to convince his bigoted cousin to leave the group. Sadly, a plot with the potential for emotional complexity vanishes behind fast-moving romance and extensive bedroom scenes. Characterization falters when Gabe obsesses over a single suspect and draws sudden conclusions from thin evidence. Once Matt’s familial connection to ALP is revealed, he and Gabe must temporarily sever their relationship, though this twist is conveniently forgotten after a shooting incident that endangers them both. The explicit content might satisfy erotica readers, but those hoping for character growth and serious treatment of cults and white supremacy should seek another book. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/06/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Say It Again

Catherine Bybee. Montlake Romance, $12.95 trade paper (348p) ISBN 978-1-5039-0535-1

Bybee’s heart-stopping fifth First Wives novel (after Faking Forever) is a twisty romantic thriller. Sasha Budanov, a lone-wolf private security contractor, and AJ Hofmann, son of the former U.S. ambassador to Germany, launch separate investigations into the German boarding school where Sasha and AJ’s sister, Amelia, both spent their childhoods. Eight years after leaving the school, Amelia is murdered, and someone starts systematically picking off her former roommates. When Sasha and AJ meet, their physical connection is intense and instantaneous. Their bond grows as they work together to get to the bottom of the murders, uncovering a web of lies and betrayal. Steamy, fast-paced, and consistently surprising, with a large cast of feisty supporting characters, this suspenseful roller-coaster ride will keep both series fans and new readers on the edge of their seats. Agent: Jane Dystel,Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/06/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Reckless in Red

Rachael Miles. Zebra, $7.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-1-4201-4656-1

The suspenseful fourth in Miles’s Muses’ Salon series (after Tempting the Earl) captivates with clever prose and an unconventional heroine. In 1820 London, painter Lena Frost drifts on the fringes of society due to her checkered past, but she hopes that her upcoming exhibition will catapult her into artistic fame. Her hopes are dashed when her business partner disappears with all of their money. Then several people, all with some connection to Lena, are murdered. Enter Clive Somerville, who is the younger brother of a duke and is a surgeon who serves among the Home Office’s investigative ranks. His inquiries into the rash of killings lead him straight to Lena’s doorstep. His fascination with Lena blurs the lines between suspicion and desire, and his urge to question her quickly transforms into a need to protect her. The only flaw in this intricately crafted historical romance is the unbelievable speed at which the connection between the protagonists develops. Readers looking for a change from Regencies will find this witty Victorian tale refreshing. Agent: Courtney Miller-Callihan, Handspun Literary (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/06/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Wolf Rebel

Paige Tyler. Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99 mass market (320p) ISBN 978-1-4926-7059-9

The high-impact action and tender romance that fans will expect from Tyler’s Special Wolf Alpha Team (SWAT) series shine in this 10th urban fantasy (following Wolf Instinct). Knox Lawson, a former Navy SEAL, fell in with a group of werewolf hunters without realizing how brutal they could be. During an attack on a werewolf compound, he was grazed by a bullet, activating his dormant werewolf DNA. Rachel Bennett, werewolf and member of the Dallas, Tex., SWAT team, is keeping a secret from her packmates: when their compound was assaulted, she had the chance to kill one of the attackers, but something in his eyes led her to let the man escape. Two months later Rachel, the woman Knox has been following since she let him live, is the only one he trusts to help him understand his condition. When both are hired to protect an assistant district attorney and her family—Rachel with SWAT, Knox with a private security firm—sparks fly as they work to keep both their client and one another safe. Though the procedural elements are often predictable, the love story is by turns spicy and sweet. Series readers will delight in returning to the SWAT universe. Agent: Bob Mecoy, Creative Book Services (Dec.)

Reviewed on 09/06/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Finding Christmas

Karen Schaler. Morrow, $14.99 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-288371-1

Schaler (Christmas Camp) delights with this G-rated holiday-themed contemporary. Christmas-obsessed Seattle philanthropist Emmie Sanders is disappointed when her workaholic boyfriend, Grant, can’t get into the holiday spirit. Bestselling mystery author Sam Riley is suffering from writer’s block after the death of his sister, who loved Christmas. Then Sam gets the wrong present from the concierge in his building, a clue that sends him on a scavenger hunt to the appropriately named Christmas Point. He thinks his agent set up the game, but in fact Emmie devised it for Grant, and she’s the prize at the end. As Sam and Emmie delight in all of the activities in the charming small town—ice skating, snowman building, cookie baking—Sam’s heart begins to heal and Emmie learns that love often shows up in unexpected places. Schaler’s smart, appealing protagonists will keep readers turning the pages, and the plotting is pitch-perfect, leading to an inevitable but charming happily-ever-after. Sweet as a Hallmark Channel movie, but never saccharine, this innocent tale will satisfy fans of both romance and Christmas. Agent: Jessica Regel, Foundry Literary + Media. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/23/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Outlaw’s Heart

Amy Sandas. Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-1-4926-5203-8

Sandas concludes her Runaway Brides historical western trilogy (after The Cowboy’s Honor) with this emotionally satisfying tale set in 1883. After Evelyn Perkins’s cruel husband, Matthew, threatens to kill her for displeasing him, she begins planning to escape to the West, where her cousin and her best friend have already found love and happiness. After she flees, a case of mistaken identity gets her kidnapped from her westbound train by a band of outlaws that includes Gabriel Sloan. They plan to ransom her, but she refuses to go back to her husband, and Gabriel feels responsible for her. Gabriel was kidnapped from his Native American tribe by white missionaries and is now a loner who doesn’t feel at home anywhere, but Evelyn’s quiet strength breaks through his emotional barriers. Trust doesn’t come easily for either of them, and as they give in to their feelings, Matthew comes hunting them. Sandas raises the emotional stakes and continually ratchets up the sexual tension and sense of danger. A stellar cast of supporting characters (including two couples from earlier installments) adds dimension. Fans of historicals will devour this suspenseful romance, and series fans will be sorry to see the trilogy end. Agent: Nalini Akolekar, Spencerhill Assoc. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/06/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Devil in the Saddle

Julia London. Berkley, $7.99 mass market (368p) ISBN 978-0-451-49237-1

Friends get more than just benefits in London’s second Princes of Texas contemporary (after The Charmer in Chaps), which tackles dynamics of class, wealth, and power while developing a gripping friends-to-lovers romance. The Prince family, owners of the Three Rivers Ranch in Texas, have fallen on hardish times after the death of patriarch Charlie, who gambled away much of their money, and they can barely afford to employ majordomo Martin Fontana. Hallie Prince, Charlie’s daughter, still lives like she’s rich, but that hasn’t stopped her from befriending Rafe Fontana, Martin’s oldest son. Rafe has been “quietly, privately, and desperately” in love with Hallie all his life, but he fears that acting inappropriately could cost his father his job. When Hallie catches her fiancé cheating, she turns to Rafe for support, and, as usual, he’s there for her. But when chemistry develops between them and she challenges him to admit how he feels, he holds back, knowing they can’t escape the difficulties that their professional relationship presents to their personal entanglement. London beautifully captures the essence of the couple’s friendship and the depth of their emotions, making the lovemaking that much more intense. Hallie’s grandma, Dolly, is just as charming and funny as ever, and the Prince family’s financial problems bring more comic relief than pathos. Readers will have a grand ol’ time revisiting Three Rivers. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/06/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Dancing with the Lion: Rise

Jeanne Reames. Riptide, $18.99 trade paper (324p) ISBN 978-1-62649-901-0

Alexandros, better known to modern readers as Alexander the Great, returns as a young adult in the second Dancing with the Lion historical novel. Alexandros’s best friend and lover, Hephaistion, provides the cool, logical counterbalance to Alexandros’s fiery impulsiveness and impatience, and the two spend quite a lot of the novel navigating political intrigue and danger together as Alexandros rises and falls in the favor of his father, King Philippos. Though their relationship is a central theme of Alexandros’s life, it’s not at the center of the story, and though they argue and disagree like all couples, their relationship is stable and is never really in question. Once again Reames has written a lovely historical novel, but has missed the mark when it comes to what romance readers expect from the genre. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/06/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

Parts of this site are only available to paying PW subscribers. Subscribers: to set up your digital access click here.

To subscribe, click here.

PW “All Access” site license members have access to PW’s subscriber-only website content. Simply close and relaunch your preferred browser to log-in. To find out more about PW’s site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com.

If you have questions or need assistance setting up your account please email pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time for assistance.

Not Registered? Click here.