A surprisingly introspective, appealingly spicy, and thoroughly original dominatrix story.

VICES/VIRTUES

A novel focuses on the double life of a Manhattan woman.

By day, Cristela Maria Davila is a leasing agent, showing apartments to prospective tenants, but in the evenings, she becomes dominatrix-for-hire “Mistress Clara.” She works at “Belle’s House of Unusual Pleasures,” a BDSM dungeon for customers wishing to indulge their kinkiest fetishes and participate in erotic role play. Clara endured a rough childhood. Her impoverished single Venezuelan mother provided for her and her brother, Alex, through welfare checks and food stamps. The novel thoughtfully examines how that upbringing both affected Clara’s financial perspective and informed her perceptions of men. With chapter headings named for both vices and virtues, the book chronicles Clara’s devilish exploits alongside her co-workers at the dungeon—Virginia, Justine, Sin, and Daisy—all contributing unique intimate histories of their own. Through the interactive, colorfully described fantasy sessions with her clients, Clara begins to become empowered by her simulated dominance of the men who hire her. She separates herself from other classic service providers as her role play, while physical, hypersexualized, and arousing, remains strictly noncoital. In keeping Clara’s narration smooth and her personality curious, clever, and warm, De Soprontu tempers the more risqué scenes with a character who initially enjoys the extra income but eventually embraces the theatrical thrill of the spectacle. A story of sex, identity, and renewal, the novel effectively intertwines Clara’s past and present lives in a way that makes her tale a simultaneously compelling, intriguing, and effortlessly entertaining read. The provocative nature of the story will, naturally, appeal to readers of erotica, as the author never skimps on potent passages of steamy dialogue and racy scenes between Clara and her cohorts. Often their interplay expands outward to include threesomes and foursomes or activities that feature sex toys, clothing, and even food (readers won’t look at a snack cake the same way again). Yet through Clara’s intimately social interactions, De Soprontu imparts views on themes of poverty, class differences, race, identity, self-preservation, strength, and deliverance, all tightly bound within the intricate, acutely psychological opera of dominance and submission interplay.

A surprisingly introspective, appealingly spicy, and thoroughly original dominatrix story.

Pub Date: July 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73319-500-3

Page Count: 332

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 10

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 17

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

more