cover image The Kiss on Castle Road

The Kiss on Castle Road

Lauren Christopher. Amazon/Montlake Romance, $12.95 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-5039-4705-4

Christopher shows small-town America at its best in this delightful contemporary series launch. Natalie Grant is well-intentioned and caring, but she’s unfocused, unemployed, and commitment-phobic to the point of panic attacks. When her older sister needs help caring for her daughter, Natalie will only agree to spend three months with them on dauntingly small Lavender Island, off the coast of Southern California. Natalie resolves to take a “mancation” from her poor romantic choices at the same time, but then she meets Dr. Elliott Sherman, described by niece Lily as “a weird guy with a telescope.” He’s a dedicated scientist working at the Friends of the Sea Lions rescue center on Castle Road, and embarking on a series of dates at the behest of his older sister. Natalie and Elliott are hesitant to act on their immediate attraction, but their bonding over three ailing seal pups, unabashedly encouraged by intervening senior citizen friends, serves as the basis for a well-rounded relationship. Christopher (Ten Good Reasons) excels at rewarding readers by incorporating genuine emotion, family, and a strong sense of place into a well-paced story. Agent: Jill Marsal, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. (Jan.)