The fresh air helps turn this office romance into a truly romantic adventure.

NEVER RETREAT

At a corporate retreat in Colorado, two co-workers compete for a cash prize, but they secretly hope to win each other’s hearts in this novel.

Raye Soto is one of 25 employees chosen for a week of team-building exercises in the great outdoors—and the chance to collect a $50,000 bonus. Her ex-husband’s substance abuse problem has left her to raise her son, Andy, by herself, and she needs money for his college tuition. She is paired with military veteran Desmond “Des” Emmett, who was recently transferred to the Denver office and needs money for his ailing little sister, Claudia. This conflict of interest is their most compelling trait—neither one of them is willing to sacrifice a loved one for the other, but to what extent will money come between them? Raye is Mexican-American, and Des has Irish ancestry. As they bond over scavenger hunts, karaoke, and stories of past heartbreak, they lament their dilemma even more when frantic phone calls from home bring more bad news. Des and Raye are heading up the mountainside to fix a hiking trail when a flash flood threatens to turn a friendly competition into a true race for survival. And their quick thinking could save the day for the entire company, making their cooperation more urgent—and ultimately more fun—than their rivalry. More sweet than steamy, McCune’s (Falling Like a Rock, 2014, etc.) love story unfolds at a realistically cautious pace while offering intriguing lead characters. Office politics frequently change the temperature from chilly to heated and back to neutral. Although Des spars with Raye over discrimination in the workplace, he champions her as his teammate. He even stands up for executive assistant Julia Flora after Raye tells him she has been overlooked for professional development. Raye, meanwhile, can fend for herself. Aside from a few minor errors (“Yeah Tell me about the staff room”; “Desnoted”; “Nothing to ityet”), the novel is a swift and satisfying read.

The fresh air helps turn this office romance into a truly romantic adventure.

Pub Date: March 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77223-351-3

Page Count: 236

Publisher: Imajin Books

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.

THE CHASE

From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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