The heartfelt soap appears to be Hannah’s chosen romance niche, and she mines it skillfully. (First printing of 125,000)

ANGEL FALLS

Hannah’s sequel to On Mystic Lake (1999) is yet another tear-jerker set in northwest Washington State.

Perfect mother Mikaela (“Mike”) Campbell takes a hard fall off a horse, hits her head, and sinks into a coma. In order to help bring her out of it, perfect husband-doctor Liam sits at her bedside and begins to talk to her about their life together. He brings her favorite music, scented potpourri, and, to place across her inert body, sweaters that may smell like home. He also tries to keep life as normal as possible for their two kids: Bret, nine years old, and Jacey, Mike’s teenaged daughter by her previous husband. Going through Mike’s closet to find a prom dress for Jacey, Liam stumbles on souvenirs of her first marriage and a picture of her ex—not just any old, anonymous first husband, but Julian True, a gorgeous superstar actor, the hero of women’s fantasies all over America. Liam has always known that he got Mikaela on the rebound; she was honest about the fact that he was not the love of her life. But she is the love of his life, and when she doesn't respond to the sound of his voice, he contacts Julian in hopes that the actor can save Mikaela. Julian travels up to Last Bend, a cutesy town founded by Liam’s larger-than-life father and filled with homey shops like the Emperor’s New Clothes store and Zeke’s Feed and Seed. When Mike finally comes out of unconsciousness and into her family’s emotional upheaval, she apologizes to Liam and bids goodbye to Julian. Yes, she’s discovered that it’s that gentle guy who stays with you through years of cramps and decorating the Christmas tree who defines what love really is.

The heartfelt soap appears to be Hannah’s chosen romance niche, and she mines it skillfully. (First printing of 125,000)

Pub Date: April 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-609-60592-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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Romance and melodrama mix uneasily with mass murder.

THE WINTER GUEST

An 18-year-old Polish girl falls in love, swoons over a first kiss, dreams of marriage—and, oh yes, we are in the middle of the Holocaust.

Jenoff (The Ambassador’s Daughter, 2013, etc.) weaves a tale of fevered teenage love in a time of horrors in the early 1940s, as the Nazis invade Poland and herd Jews into ghettos and concentration camps. A prologue set in 2013, narrated by a resident of the Westchester Senior Center, provides an intriguing setup. A woman and a policeman visit the resident and ask if she came from a small Polish village. Their purpose is unclear until they mention bones recently found there: “And we think you might know something about them.” The book proceeds in the third person, told from the points of view mostly of teenage Helena, who comes upon an injured young Jewish-American soldier, and sometimes of her twin, Ruth, who is not as adventurous as Helena but is very competitive with her. Their father is dead, their mother is dying in a hospital, and they are raising their three younger siblings amid danger and hardship. The romance between Helena and Sam, the soldier, is often conveyed in overheated language that doesn’t sit well with the era’s tragic events: “There had been an intensity to his embrace that said he was barely able to contain himself, that he also wanted more.” Jenoff, clearly on the side of tolerance, slips in a simplified historical framework for the uninformed. But she also feeds stereotypes, having Helena note that Sam has “a slight arch to his nose” and a dark complexion that “would make him suspect as a Jew immediately.” Clichés also pop up during the increasingly complex plot: “But even if they stood in place, the world around them would not.”

Romance and melodrama mix uneasily with mass murder.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7783-1596-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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RIVER'S END

Though Roberts (The Reef, 1998, etc.) never writes badly, her newest mystery romance is more inconsistent than most. Little Olivia MacBride, daughter of two golden Hollywood superstars, wakes up one night to see her coked-up father holding her mother’s bloody body, a scissors in his hand. After her dad is led off to prison, Liv is sent to live with her grandparents, who run a successful lodge in the Olympic rain forest on the Washington coast—a location far across the continent from the Maryland shores of Roberts’s Quinn trilogy, but one that allows her to explore another place of life-giving scenic wonder. And when Liv grows up and becomes a naturalist/guide, she gets to take us on lots of eye-dazzling tours. Into her sheltered paradise comes Noah Brady, the son of the police detective who arrested Liv’s father and has been her friend since childhood. Noah has grown up to be a bestselling true-crime writer, and, against Liv’s will, he wants to write his next book about the MacBride murder case. (Liv’s dad, about to be released from San Quentin, is dying of brain cancer.) Though Liv fights her attraction to Noah, he’s a persistent boy, and on an extended and very sexy camping trip, the two become lovers. Meanwhile, the real murderer, whose identity will probably be obvious to most readers, leaves his own trail of violence up to Washington and a final prime-evil shoot-out. Added to Roberts’s poorly drawn mystery and her interlude of swell lusty love is her usual theme of how wounded children and inner children are healed and nurtured by good nuclear families. If the conventional wisdom is true, that romance readers never tire of reruns of the same old same old, then Roberts won’t have disappointed them.

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-14470-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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