An effective tale for readers who like biblical history and legend with their young love.

Judah's Scepter and the Sacred Stone

In this debut historical romance, a Hebrew princess and an Irish warrior fall in love, but duty may keep them apart.

In 586 B.C., Jerusalem has fallen to the Babylonians. Princess Teia Tamar, almost 15 and the Judean king’s oldest daughter, must flee the city with the prophet Jeremiah, who brings with him the Bethel Stone that was Jacob’s pillow. They find refuge in Egypt, along with a scattered band of Hebrew refugees. Also in Egypt is Eochaid Finn, 21, son of Ireland’s high king. He’s sailed far from home, but legends say his people were originally an Israelite colony that came to Erin via Spain. Jeremiah reveals that it’s Eochaid’s destiny to rule in David’s line, a line that is also Teia’s, but his people must turn away from Baal. When Teia and Eochaid meet, they are instantly and deeply attracted, feeling as if they’ve always known each other. But they both have duties: Eochaid must return home, while Teia must serve her God and study Jeremiah’s scrolls. Over the next several years, Eochaid makes a dangerous sea journey, braving pirates, storms, and political intrigue once he reaches Erin. Jeremiah, meanwhile, insists they sail away from idolatrous Egypt with Teia as guardian of the Stone. This also becomes a treacherous odyssey, and a tempest blows them off course—to Erin, where Eochaid, now high king, is about to wed. Can the royal lines of David unite, with the Stone in their throne room? Brittain offers a well-researched, solidly described novel based on legend and history (a selected bibliography is attached) that’s bolstered by scriptural quotations on God’s covenant with Israel. The notion of this covenant as a kind of marriage is well supported in both the Old and New Testaments, which adds some weight and significance to the love story. The romance is chaste and feather light, seeming barely translated from a 1950s high school, with (for example) Eochaid’s torque standing in for a class ring. Brittain’s diction wobbles between high style (“I live for him, the Creator of all that we see…and all that remains hidden”) and contemporary (“Hannah put on a pouty face”), which can become jarring.

An effective tale for readers who like biblical history and legend with their young love.

Pub Date: July 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5069-0229-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: First Edition Design eBook Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2016

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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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