A fast-paced and entertaining romance with a sci-fi twist.

THE LAST MARINE

A U.S. Marine exiled to a distant planet finds himself falling in love with the woman who is central to his plan for escape.

Griffin Jude Payne is a man on a mission. The last Marine, he watched as Alfred Parnell, prime minister of the U.N., embarked on a campaign to unite all countries of the world under a single, Utopian government, exiling anyone considered undesirable to the planet Asteria. On the night of Alfred’s speech to the world, Griffin assassinates him in front of his wife, Prudence, and brother, Randolph. During Griffin’s trial, Prudence makes plans of her own. Abused by the Parnell brothers, she plans to escape to Asteria. Both Griffin and Prudence find themselves on the same ship bound for the planet. Griffin hopes to locate his brother Lucan; commandeer a spaceship; and return to Earth to lead a rebellion. He believes Prudence could be a valuable bargaining chip, but Prudence would prefer to stay on Asteria. As they fight to survive on the unfamiliar planet, a romance develops that enables them to heal the wounds of their pasts. Together, they must face a new enemy as Randolph sets in motion a plan to kill Griffin and return Prudence to Earth. Crescent’s (Don’t Let Me Forget You, 2016, etc.) latest is a genre-bending mix of romance, sci-fi, and political thriller. The romance’s chief strengths are its focused storytelling, nuanced leads, and imaginative settings. The novel opens on a suspenseful note as Griffin plans to assassinate Alfred. Crescent maintains a high level of tension as Griffin and Prudence struggle to persevere on Asteria while outmaneuvering Randolph. Griffin and Prudence are appealing characters whose romance crackles with moments that are tender and erotic. Prudence, half-human and half-Lythonian, an alien race, possesses a special gift she can only transfer to her mate. Griffin is an honorable Marine coping with feelings of guilt and remorse. Their romance blossoms gradually but believably. The planet Asteria is vividly realized with well-developed descriptions of the terrain and native creatures.

A fast-paced and entertaining romance with a sci-fi twist. 

Pub Date: Dec. 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9971872-1-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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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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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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