A gangbusters beginning, but the ending doesn’t satisfy.


From the Between Two Evils series , Vol. 1

To save the world, a woman must go back in time to guarantee a relationship’s success in this first sci-fi novel in a series.

Perhaps because she’s leaving the “bloodbath” of her fresh divorce settlement, Isabel “Iz” Sanborn, an award-winning geneticist, doesn’t recognize Diego Nadales at first when she runs into him in downtown Denver. The former co-workers and one-time couple haven’t seen each other for some 15 years, since their bad breakup. Diego, a software writer, has particular reason to feel betrayed; he wasn’t cheating on Iz, as she suspected, when he kept a promise to visit a female friend, but Iz retaliated by actually cheating on him—and then telling his boss, falsely, that Diego had harassed her. But their chemistry sparks again, nonetheless. Soon they plan to marry and move into a mountain cabin. Tragedies personal and worldwide unfold, including a rash of fires, after a mysterious metal sphere appears in Denver, emblazoned with Einstein’s relativity equation. Soon, Iz and Diego are separated during the chaos as scientists in a secret underground city study the sphere’s contents, which include instructions for a time machine. Investigation shows that there’s only one way to prevent an end to all mammalian life: Iz must sacrifice her own life in this timeline to go back in time to 19-year-old Diego and teach him how to make their relationship work—so that they’re happily married for 20 years. In early chapters, Orton (Dead Time, 2017, etc.) draws readers in with strong writing including moments of humor, compelling themes, and even a heartwarming romantic gesture that depends on the kindness of a band of looters. Iz shows admirable resourcefulness, and an irreverent physics professor, Matt Hudson, also provides an entertaining first-person point of view. However, the couples counseling that ends the book is irritating more than romantic. Iz is demanding and critical, Diego doesn’t want to be molded, and above all, Orton isn’t persuasive about why everything depends on their romance being successful, out of all the couples in the universe. Perhaps that, and some other loose ends, will become clearer in later installments.

A gangbusters beginning, but the ending doesn’t satisfy.

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-941368-02-2

Page Count: 374

Publisher: Rocky Mountain Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2019

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


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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Britisher Swift's sixth novel (Ever After, 1992 etc.) and fourth to appear here is a slow-to-start but then captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after years of running a butcher shop in London, he leaves a strange request—namely, that his ashes be scattered off Margate pier into the sea. And who could better be suited to fulfill this wish than his three oldest drinking buddies—insurance man Ray, vegetable seller Lenny, and undertaker Vic, all of whom, like Jack himself, fought also as soldiers or sailors in the long-ago world war. Swift's narrative start, with its potential for the melodramatic, is developed instead with an economy, heart, and eye that release (through the characters' own voices, one after another) the story's humanity and depth instead of its schmaltz. The jokes may be weak and self- conscious when the three old friends meet at their local pub in the company of the urn holding Jack's ashes; but once the group gets on the road, in an expensive car driven by Jack's adoptive son, Vince, the story starts gradually to move forward, cohere, and deepen. The reader learns in time why it is that no wife comes along, why three marriages out of three broke apart, and why Vince always hated his stepfather Jack and still does—or so he thinks. There will be stories of innocent youth, suffering wives, early loves, lost daughters, secret affairs, and old antagonisms—including a fistfight over the dead on an English hilltop, and a strewing of Jack's ashes into roiling seawaves that will draw up feelings perhaps unexpectedly strong. Without affectation, Swift listens closely to the lives that are his subject and creates a songbook of voices part lyric, part epic, part working-class social realism—with, in all, the ring to it of the honest, human, and true.

Pub Date: April 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-41224-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

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