Forbidden attraction and the threat of betrayal are the initial hooks for what turns out to be a sumptuously written and...

AN UNCONDITIONAL FREEDOM

The third book in Cole’s (A Duke by Default, 2018, etc.) Civil War–era Loyal League series pairs a broken man bent on retribution with an inexperienced but courageous double agent.

Daniel Cumberland was born free in Massachusetts, but his education and professional status did not protect him from being kidnapped and sold into slavery, an experience that destroyed his faith in God, country, and himself even after he's rescued. At night, memories of his time in captivity haunt him, but by day he is a detective with the Loyal League, one of the North’s most important spy rings. Daniel is ruthless and heartless, motivated by an all-consuming thirst for vengeance that sets him apart even from his fellow spies, with their naïve optimism that the war can bring about a better life for people of all races. Janeta Sanchez had lived a pampered and privileged life as the daughter of a Cuban plantation owner who had settled in Florida. But when Yankee soldiers imprison her father and quarter themselves in her home, she agrees to travel to Ohio to infiltrate the Loyal League and spy for the Confederate cause. In unfamiliar terrain, where others' perceptions clash with her self-image, Janeta “was coming to understand both her place in this country and her own inner geography better; she was recharting the map of herself.” Cole conveys the ways Janeta’s and Daniel’s layered identities pose challenges while affording them strengths of insight and character. Cole weaves a tense and gripping plot into a tapestry of fascinating and authentic historical detail, told from the distinct perspectives of people of color, without skimping on the growing feelings and strong desires that bring two lovers together.

Forbidden attraction and the threat of betrayal are the initial hooks for what turns out to be a sumptuously written and meticulously researched tale of a country at war with itself and two damaged people who find themselves in each other’s arms.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4967-0748-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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A breezy tale perfect for a day at the beach, this one’s a real winner.

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THE HATING GAME

Lucy Hutton absolutely detests her office mate Joshua Templeman. He’s a pompous, self-important, obnoxious ass. But, she’s got to admit, he is pretty cute.

From the moment they meet, a result of the unwelcome corporate merger between their employers, Lucy and Joshua are at odds. Joshua is assistant to the CEO of what was once Bexley Publishing, a numbers-crunching, foosball-playing frat house–cum-business. Lucy is assistant to the CEO of the now-defunct Gamin Publishing, a Birkenstock-clad, free-flowing commune of literary purists. When the two companies begrudgingly become one, so does the executive suite. Thus begins this hate-at-first-sight romantic comedy. Lucy and Joshua’s daily interactions include the staring game, the mirror game, and the HR game, each played with the intensity of the Hunger Games. Their mutual antipathy grows when a new executive position opens at Bexley-Gamin Publishing and both Lucy's and Joshua’s bosses think their protégés would be the perfect choice. Here the high-stakes game begins. After yet another 60-hour work week, which now includes prepping for upcoming interviews, Lucy logs off of her computer (Password: IHATEJOSHUA4EV@) to head home, but not before her rival hops into the elevator with her. When Joshua hits the emergency button and stops the ride, Lucy is certain her nemesis is going to kill her. Instead, he plants a (completely consensual) kiss on her that awakens something she hadn’t known existed. Debut novelist Thorne delivers something nearly impossible: an entirely predictable plot that is also completely fresh, original, and utterly charming. From the opening page, readers will know the outcome of Lucy and Joshua’s relationship, but what happens in between is magic. From Lucy’s hilarious inner dialogue to Joshua’s sharp retorts, the chemistry between them is irresistibly adorable—and smokin’ hot.

A breezy tale perfect for a day at the beach, this one’s a real winner.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-243959-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

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THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ

An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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