The weak characters and weaker prose make this book one to avoid.

YOU CAN'T ALWAYS GET THE MARQUESS YOU WANT

A family feud in Regency England comes to a predictable crescendo when the son of one family falls in love with the daughter of another.

Hawkins (A Duke but No Gentleman, 2015) returns to her Masters of Seduction series with the next chapter in the lives of the Brant and Rooke families. Mathias Rooke, Marquess of Fairlamb, knows that his father despises the Marquess of Norgrave, but he doesn’t know why. But he’s sheeplike enough to treat the Marquess’ son, the Earl of Marcroft, as his own enemy and misses no chance to goad and taunt Marcroft into a brawl. When he comes upon the beautiful Lady Tempest Brant picnicking with her sisters on a summer day, he is dismayed to realize that she is Marcroft’s sister. He begins to pursue her at first to annoy Marcroft but soon finds himself overcome with lust and affection for the young lady. Mathias is just as foolish and obnoxious as his father, the hero of the author’s last novel, although he is less despicable toward women of a lower social station. Still, the novel suffers from the same painful prose and the same utter lack of likable characters. Lady Tempest is a ninny who does her parents’ bidding even though her mother is a fool and her father, a blackguard. Mathias behaves just like the pampered 22-year-old he is, and his parents are doomed to repeat the same mistakes they made as youths—by not facing up to hard conversations or telling the truth, they cause untold pain for everyone around them. The book’s sole redeeming quality is the way it portrays the long-term effects of sexual violence. Mathias’ mother suffered an attack before he was born, and it has shaped his life just as surely as it has shaped hers.

The weak characters and weaker prose make this book one to avoid.

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-06473-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

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CIRCE

A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch.

“Monsters are a boon for gods. Imagine all the prayers.” So says Circe, a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller’s dazzling second novel. The writer returns to Homer, the wellspring that led her to an Orange Prize for The Song of Achilles (2012). This time, she dips into The Odyssey for the legend of Circe, a nymph who turns Odysseus’ crew of men into pigs. The novel, with its distinctive feminist tang, starts with the sentence: “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse, who had negligible use for their child. It takes banishment to the island Aeaea for Circe to sense her calling as a sorceress: “I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.” This lonely, scorned figure learns herbs and potions, surrounds herself with lions, and, in a heart-stopping chapter, outwits the monster Scylla to propel Daedalus and his boat to safety. She makes lovers of Hermes and then two mortal men. She midwifes the birth of the Minotaur on Crete and performs her own C-section. And as she grows in power, she muses that “not even Odysseus could talk his way past [her] witchcraft. He had talked his way past the witch instead.” Circe’s fascination with mortals becomes the book’s marrow and delivers its thrilling ending. All the while, the supernatural sits intriguingly alongside “the tonic of ordinary things.” A few passages coil toward melodrama, and one inelegant line after a rape seems jarringly modern, but the spell holds fast. Expect Miller’s readership to mushroom like one of Circe’s spells.

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-55634-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

LOVE AND OTHER WORDS

Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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