An engaging second-chance romance.

THE CONSULTING GIG

A LOVE STORY

A job interview leads to an unexpected offer—and a potential lover—for a widow reinventing her life and career in this debut novel.

Alesandra “Andie” Halzer is devastated when her husband of 25 years, Nick, dies unexpectedly following routine surgery. Two years later, Andie interviews for the position of director of special projects for Johnathan “Jack” Devlan’s company, Devcor Diversified, Inc. Jack is impressed with her credentials, expertise, and strong work ethic. Although Jack selects another candidate for the position, he has a different job in mind for Andie. Jack wishes to pursue new business opportunities, but he does not want the attention of eligible women to interfere with that goal. He needs someone to pose as his date at various social events, and Andie is his ideal candidate for the role. Intrigued but cautious, Andie agrees to Jack’s terms, including the stipulation that neither becomes emotionally attached. Over the course of three months, Andie accompanies Jack to award luncheons, wine tastings, and dinner parties. What starts as a business arrangement soon turns personal when Jack discovers he has fallen in love with Andie. With time running out on the contract, Jack begins a campaign to convince Andie to stay in his life forever. Capen’s book is a fresh and sharply written contemporary romance featuring dynamic characters and a unique and surprisingly tender love story at its center. Andie is an appealing heroine whose concerns about re-entering the workforce after her husband’s death are relatable. In a well-drawn scene, she confronts her fears about interviewing for the position with Jack’s company (“What was I thinking? I’m too old for this job. But how do they expect someone to have all that experience without being at least thirty-five or forty”). Jack is a hard-driving businessman who has avoided emotional entanglements since the death of his wife, Maggie. Although Andie and Jack’s relationship begins as a contractual arrangement, a loving connection gradually develops, grounded in part by their shared grief over the deaths of their spouses. That said, there is an inconsistency in the rendering of Jack’s first name. It is spelled “Johnathan” and “Jonathan.”

An engaging second-chance romance.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-885297-03-7

Page Count: 377

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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