RaveNPRA heist with a cast of zany characters, tongue-in-cheek dialogue, questionable criminal skills, and of course, a bumbling, incompetent thief or two are undoubtedly part of the charm of Colson Whitehead\'s Harlem Shuffle. But the novel is also a powerful tale of a man\'s love for his family and the neighborhood where he lives. And the man at the center of that tale is a devastatingly enjoyable character who has a true gift for words — if not always the smartest actions ... I especially enjoyed Whitehead\'s prose, so vividly cinematic it brought to mind some of my favorite gritty heist films ... every paragraph is full of authentic voices and perfectly deployed profanity, which adds to the you-are-there feeling, sitting in the backroom of the furniture store or at the bar at the Nightbirds with Carney, Freddie, Miami Joe, Pepper and Tommy Lips. There are some riveting female characters, too ... No matter how much trouble he finds, we can\'t help but root for Ray Carney every step of the way ... a suspenseful crime thriller that\'s sure to add to the tally — it\'s a fabulous novel you must read.
RaveNPRThe Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba, is an inspirational tale of courage, love, and losses for three unforgettable women ... Cleeton breaks down the complexities of this era into a cohesive, compelling story that delivers some jaw-dropping historical facts ... Cleeton\'s design doesn\'t sacrifice the mystery or the tension ... The book also includes romance, but I won\'t give away who meets whom and what may or may not happen between them. But love is a critical theme here, and not only for a husband, child, parent, or possible future mate. In addition to the history, Cleeton\'s story includes finding love, losing love, and keeping love in your heart despite the uncertainty of the life and death surrounding you. So, perhaps that means The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba is also a story of how to keep despair at bay ... The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba is an exciting and inspiring read that shows us how womanhood, courage and revolution are three words that often mean the same thing.
RaveNPR... an enthralling work of mystery, murder, trust, and betrayal ... Penner\'s immersive story flows skillfully from past to present, revealing the heartaches and lost dreams of three captivating main characters in a page-turningly tense drama that surprises right up until the final paragraph ... engrossing from the onset. Although some might be slightly appalled by Nella\'s profession, Penner immerses us in 1791 London, patiently revealing Nella\'s backstory and the circumstances that influence her decision to turn her mother\'s apothecary shop, once a place for healing, into a haven for betrayed women who believe they have no other choice but murder ... Refreshingly, this book is not a procedural or a study in the psychosis of a serial killer. What it does is create an affinity for the reader with Nella, Eliza and Caroline. We root for the three main characters, wanting them to find a way around the problems that escalate in surprising ways ... Also compelling is Penner\'s consistent return to themes of motherhood and impending womanhood. It creates a sense of humanity — in other words, I didn\'t feel guilty about not passing judgment on any of the female characters ... While The Lost Apothecary feels like it gets off to a slow start, Penner builds tension by planting us deep into each woman\'s psyche. Then as the characters dig in, she upsets their foundations and shifts their expectations; Nella, Eliza, and Caroline must think quick to avoid falling deeper into a ditch they don\'t see ahead. And neither do we, which only adds to the fun ... you can trust Sarah Penner\'s The Lost Apothecary to keep you turning the pages of a story that doesn\'t ease up until the very last sentence.
RaveNPRIt\'s a cinematic adventure, with snow-capped mountains, majestic forests, and plenty of Old West atmosphere — including some truly nasty, wrath-deserving villains. But it also provides a perspective on African American life years after the end of the Civil War ... Beautifully written, Spring and Garrett\'s love affair is intimate, passionate, and sexy. But this isn\'t only a story of two people falling in love in the Old West ... Jenkins\'s novel also paints a lovely landscape of the Wyoming Territory with resonant compassion for wildlife and nature ... Wild Rain will linger in your thoughts for its remarkably likable hero, spirited heroine, beautiful horses, scenery, adventure, and romance. It\'s the kind of excellent storytelling that keeps us coming back for more, again and again from Beverly Jenkins.
RaveNPRA complicated but passionate love story with a plot ripped from the headlines, Snapped is the latest book in Alexa Martin\'s highly-regarded Playbook series. And once again, Martin delivers another heart-warming romance with loads of laughter and sensuality — but she also doesn\'t fumble the ball when it comes to providing a hard-hitting plot ... Martin skillfully crafts a delicate balance between romance, politics, current events and a main character\'s self-realization in a story that rarely feels predictable. She doesn\'t skimp on the funny either; Snapped is full of zippy dialogue, and Elle\'s internal monologue will have you rolling ... Elle and Quinton may be fictional, but they\'re definitely unforgettable. They also are two people I\'d like to know in the real world — and Alexa Martin\'s Snapped brings them to life in a striking novel of heart, mind, and soul.
PositiveNPRA genuinely funny and charismatic heroine shines in Loathe At First Sight, the delightful and eye-opening debut adult novel by Suzanne Park ... Don\'t be fooled; the story isn\'t the trope-laden tale you might expect from the title. Sure, several characters speed onto the enemy lane. Still, Park — a former stand-up comedian — negotiates her energized plot masterfully, with an engaging main character who doesn\'t hold back when faced with a sexist boss, an Internet stalker, or a belligerent officemate ... In the end, Park delivers a multi-layered happy-ever-after where our heroine is not only a wizard in the gaming industry, she\'s pretty magic at romance, too.
PositiveNPR... an intimate tale of survival, love, and courage ... The novel\'s imminent danger, its ticking clock, is the hurricane, but the three main characters and their complicated relationships really deliver the tension ... The narrative jumps between Helen, Mirta, and Elizabeth, but each character resonates from chapter to chapter, and heightening the tension. And Cleeton keeps the surprises coming: Each woman is distinct in voice, manner, and goals, and the pace of the story never slows ... The book is a bit dialogue-heavy at times, and I could\'ve used a few more descriptions, a little more time spent with each character — especially once the storm struck, and in its immediate aftermath. But overall, The Last Train to Key West blends danger, intimacy, history, and suspense in a taut, romantic story I didn\'t want to end.
PositiveNPRWilsner\'s story of Hollywood in the age of social media influencers and tabloids feels authentic ... Something to Talk About centers on the ideas of mutual respect and friendship, and Wilsner explores those ideas with care and consideration, especially welcome in a novel that features an office romance during the #MeToo era. And their focus on the importance of privacy in a setting where media bullying is an acceptable consequence of fame serves as a believable plot engine that delivers plenty of motivation and drama ... there are times when Wilsner introduces so many topics, you might feel a little whiplash—but they do strive to make sure readers don\'t lose track of the central love story for too long. Jo and Emma are richly drawn, and each also has an equally compelling best friend in their corner ... a slow-burn of a romance that eventually reaches a fiery simmer.
PositiveNPRThe story is trope-heavy...Forced proximity, secret crushes, office affairs, lovers from different worlds, flirting under fire — you get the drift. There\'s also a moment early on when the romance teeters on the tightrope of \'why don\'t you two just talk to each other?\' But Rai astutely adds a fresh layer of complications whenever that feeling surfaces, keeping us turning the pages ... Girl Gone Viral is a fun, addictive romance and when the layers kick in, it\'s a page-turner you won\'t put down. (No spoilers, but the ending delivers on the story promise with a solid twist.) ... And by the way, don\'t be surprised if by the end of this book journey, you add eyebrows to your list of thirst-worthy features. Just sayin\'.
MixedNPR...a complex story of loss and survival told across 200 years by four women, united by the color of their skin and the supernatural powers they command. It\'s an ambitious, absorbing novel that\'s occasionally let down by lengthy exposition and frequent jumps between points of view ... Woods\' book is filled with fantastical elements, and while in spots I felt the connection between slavery and magic was an uneasy one, I appreciated that the author doesn\'t credit a singular superpower ... With so many characters, each with their own story, Remembrance is bound to have twists and turns. But Woods drops some of the surprises on us too abruptly ... Nonetheless, Woods creates memorable characters ... a well-researched, epic historical fantasy that, despite its flaws, delivers upon the themes of pain and suffering, loss and survival.
RaveNPR... a tour-de-force romance that tackles tough problems like insecurity and chronic pain while still delivering a laugh-out-loud love story full of poignant revelations about human nature ... Don\'t be surprised at just how much you\'ll empathize with their angsty backstories (hilarious delivery aside, Hibbert makes almost as strong a case against love as she does for it). And don\'t think the answer here is that love cures pain and trouble. No, it\'s more like the icing on the best cake you\'ve ever wanted to devour ... Hibbert softens the story\'s edges with infectious banter and internal monologues that tickle the funny bone ... At the same time, the story\'s relentless focus on its two leads gives us limited interaction with their respective families. And as good as the banter can be, halfway through my read it felt somewhat repetitive in spots ... Hibbert bills herself as an author of sexy, diverse romance — and she comes through in Get a Life, Chloe Brown, giving us passion, humor and some scorching love scenes ... what gives this story its depth is Hibbert\'s voice — you live each character\'s pain, joy, laughter, love, longing. And when Red Morgan and Chloe Brown get into your head — good grief — there\'s nothing like it.
PositiveNPR... a sweet, sexy story about two people who are perfect for each other ... Now, if this romance sounds too perfect, a warning: Guillory doesn\'t make the journey to love easy. Malcolm\'s nephew causes some problems, as does Vivian\'s habit of keeping her personal life a secret from her daughter. Still, Guillory keeps her story\'s focus on the fun, which makes for a breezy, relaxing read. From delicious homemade scones to footmen delivering handwritten notes, Jasmine Guillory\'s Royal Holiday and its charming tale of love over 50 is a shining jewel worthy of a queen\'s crown.
RaveNPR... has plenty of laugh-out-loud scenes, and [McFarlane] consistently serves up a heaping plate of humor alongside each bowl of angst. Georgina\'s story is a delightful yet cautionary tale ... Between Georgina\'s surprising voice and the way she sees her world, I was hooked from the first, captivating chapter ... Indeed, something about the flavor of McFarlane\'s writing reminded me of the feistiness and humor of the TV show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel...the book and the show feature tightly written dialogue, a female-centered story that involves past and present loves, and a woman\'s hunger to stand in front of an audience and tell her story ... some of the scenes there were so over-the-top they felt better suited to a sitcom. But mostly, Georgina\'s trials and tribulations are as funny as they were heart-breaking ... a page-turner about a heroine with a laugh-out-loud voice, an endearing romance, and, as the British say, lashings of drama. And I won\'t forget Georgina Horspool\'s secrets anytime soon.
PositiveNPRI was immediately captivated by Chevalier\'s ability to tell a big story while focusing on the small things that make characters memorable and also relatable. I like Violet ... Chevalier is skilled with setting, too ... The symbolism is sometimes a bit on the nose as Violet\'s growth from victim to the ruler of her destiny is marked out in needlepoint stitches. But the pacing, although leisurely, doesn\'t distract from the power of the story. The plot, and Chevalier\'s delicate handling of Violet\'s love interest, is seamless as well .... a fascinating story about building something long-lasting by beginning with one small stitch.
PositiveNPRFrom the opening chapter, the book brims with mystery and danger ... Lulu\'s Bahamas storyline acknowledges the American obsession with British royalty — but thankfully also delves into the not-so-glamorous politics of the times ... Although I enjoyed Williams\'s diligence in bringing Nassau\'s history to the page, I felt a bit shortchanged at times. I longed for a couple more scenes with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and some of the other historical characters. I also was distracted by some of the dialogue of the Bahamian supporting characters, which didn\'t read as authentically as some of the other voices ... All in all, however, the novel reminded me of fresh taffy. Warm, salty, a little bitter, and sweet — it pulls the reader in steadily without breaking apart. Elegant prose and imagery grace every page ... if a gin and tonic isn\'t on the menu, perhaps a trip to the beach with The Golden Hour in tow would do just fine.
PositiveNPRAlyssa Cole\'s A Prince on Paper, the third novel in her Reluctant Royals series, is brimming with emotion, humor, and sensuality. It\'s a sweet, engaging story, the kind of thing that might happen in a mythical place like Camelot or Florin, all wrapped up in a contemporary romance — though in this case, our fictional countries are called Thesolo and Liechtienbourg ... A downside: Cole\'s world-building is almost too believable. I searched for Thesolo, dreaming of a week\'s vacation, hanging out with friends, old and new, or at least playing One True Prince on my phone for hours. But alas, like Camelot, I couldn\'t find a roadmap — or the game — online. And believe me, I looked.
PositiveNPRBlending an emotional journey with an intoxicating romance, Alexa Martin\'s Fumbled—the second novel in her Playbook series—scores touchdown after touchdown in a sports romance set against a backfield of tropes (and only a few clichés) ... Whether you love or hate the sport itself, this story of second chance romance offers an authentic look into the world of pro ball, the paparazzi, the wives and girlfriends, the agents, and the wild and crazy fans that invade their privacy. And Martin—who\'s married to a former NFL player—is also skilled at delivering the funny. Even during some of the novel\'s most emotional scenes, Poppy will make you laugh out loud as she wipes away her latest flood of tears ... Fumbled doesn\'t gloss over the difficult topic of concussions—rather, Martin examines it from both an emotional and a realistic perspective ... There are a couple of story threads that seem slightly under-baked. One of the not-so-decent mothers Poppy meets could\'ve used a bit more comeuppance on the page, and the double appearance of a mysterious bouquet didn\'t add the suspense the author might\'ve intended. Still ... a sports romance that really scores.
Jayne Ann Krentz
PositiveNPRFor the sake of full disclosure, I haven\'t read the first two books in the series. But let me assure you, I didn\'t feel left in the dark while reading Untouchable—and neither will you. It\'s a complicated, suspenseful novel that also delivers a riveting romance ... this is a book with a complicated plot—but I kept turning the pages...through the hills and valleys of suspense and romance...and even an occasional dose of humor ... a few dialogue passages in the middle of the book...slow the action. Krentz doesn\'t stick to the typical police procedural approach to crime solving I\'ve found in romantic suspense novels by authors like Laura Griffin or J.D. Robb. In Untouchable, our heroes often discover critical clues through dreams and discussions—leaving me longing now and then for less dialogue and more action ... however ... A thoroughly enjoyable romantic suspense novel, Untouchable is another winner by Jayne Ann Krentz.
PositiveWashington Independent Review of Books\"[A] historical mystery with richly developed characters ... It’s an emotional tale — set alongside an equally emotional (and dangerous) struggle to unionize the town’s draconian coal-mining operation — but it feels accurate. Adding to the depth of the story is the absence of mustache-twirling bad guys or other easy caricatures. Instead, characters’ dark motivations are believable and authentic, rendering their choices fascinating and memorable, and making The Widows an all-the-more-effecting page-turner with a deep moral center and an unforgettable cast.\