A ZEN ROMANCE

ONE WOMAN'S ADVENTURES IN A MONASTERY

Journalist and former editor of Eastwest magazine Boehm succeeds in writing a worthwhile variation on the familiar theme ``An American in Japan.'' Boehm's romance is partly with Zen monasticism and partly with Zen monks. What she is offering us is in effect a retrospect: The time is 196970, and our author has just rented a room next to one of the oldest Zen temples in Kyoto. She is taking courses in Japanese flute and Indian dance, and earning a living by teaching English. Fluent in Japanese, Boehm introduces us to monks, local families, and above all her own journey of emotional growth, which she sees as having been enhanced by the clarity of Zen. We meet a number of Americans who are immersing themselves in the culture, including the outrageous Toozie, a potter's apprentice from San Francisco, and her sexually active circle. Boehm is unexpectedly given access to the monastery, where she meets people like Zan-san, one of the more formidable senior monks (and the subject of the vivid erotic dream with which she begins her narrative), and Toku-san, who sternly warns her not to dissipate her attention by pursuing her desire to become a Renaissance woman. Mugen and Yukio, both attached to the monastery, fall in love with her. Despite temptations she preserves her virginity, has a disappointing visit to a Pure Land nunnery, and is the first foreigner to participate in the monastery's semi-annual O-sesshin of intensive meditation. Boehm's witty prose is rich, evocative, and utterly convincing, giving the reader a nuanced yet seemingly spontaneous, frank record of her experiences. Boehm avoids the pitfall of trying to overawe us with Zen wisdom and instead gives us her own eloquent sense of elusive, fleeting Zen moments and her attempts to grasp the ungraspable.

Pub Date: June 1, 1996

ISBN: 4-7700-2032-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Kodansha

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1996

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Another success for the publishing phenom.

UNDER CURRENTS

An abused boy fights back, escapes, then returns as an attorney to his beloved hometown, but just as he’s falling in love with a transplanted landscaper, a series of attacks from shadowy enemies jeopardizes their happiness.

“From the outside, the house in Lakeview Terrace looked perfect.” Which of course means that it wasn't. We're introduced to the horrifying Dr. Graham Bigelow, who beats his wife and, increasingly as the boy gets older, his son, Zane. On the night of Zane’s prom, a particularly savage attack puts him and his sister in the hospital, and his father blames Zane, landing him in jail. Then his sister stands up for him, enlisting the aid of their aunt, and everything changes, mainly due to Zane’s secret diaries. Nearly 20 years later, Zane leaves a successful career as a lawyer to return to Lakeview, where his aunt and sister live with their families, deciding to hang a shingle as a small-town lawyer. Then he meets Darby McCray, the landscaper who’s recently relocated and taken the town by storm, starting with the transformation of his family’s rental bungalows. The two are instantly intrigued by each other, but they move slowly into a relationship neither is looking for. Darby has a violent past of her own, so she is more than willing to take on the risk of antagonizing a boorish local family when she and Zane help an abused wife. Suddenly Zane and Darby face one attack after another, and even as they grow ever closer under the pressure, the dangers become more insidious. Roberts’ latest title feels a little long and the story is slightly cumbersome, but her greatest strength is in making the reader feel connected to her characters, so “unnecessary details” can also charm and engage.

Another success for the publishing phenom.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20709-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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