This enjoyable yet not entirely satisfying story will leave readers wanting to know more as they consider the line between...

THE LAST YEAR IN THE LIFE OF MARILYN MONROE VOL. 1

A HIDDEN HISTORY

In this mostly fictionalized account, O’Melveny (Extramarital, 2011) provides the backstory of a recently discovered, long-lost manuscript that provides intimate details of the last days in the life of Marilyn Monroe.

The prologue of Volume 1 introduces Marilyn on the night before her death as she prepares to be wed, once again, to the love of her life, Joe DiMaggio. She’s in a pensive but cheerful mood, and she’s grateful for this second chance at building a life with DiMaggio. From there, a series of dated vignettes draw the reader into Marilyn’s inner circle of celebrities, power brokers and politicians. As many who knew her have affirmed, she is not the ditzy blonde bombshell that was her public persona. Through bits and pieces of dialogue, Monroe’s inner conflict—her desire to remain Norma Jean while fulfilling her obligation to be the celebrity goddess everyone expects—is revealed in short, often unsatisfying glimpses. The book is full of allusions, teasers and suggestions meant to titillate one’s curiosity not only about Marilyn, but about the powerful men who populate her life. President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy are featured prominently in a parallel storyline involving the mob, Frank Sinatra and Fidel Castro. These plotlines will most likely intersect at some point in a future volume, although it’s not clear when or how. While O’Melveny’s account of Marilyn’s final year isn’t in-depth or even wholly true, the dialogue is very well written. Giving voice to public icons is no easy task, but O’Melveny’s lines ring true, lending an air of credibility to every word spoken.

This enjoyable yet not entirely satisfying story will leave readers wanting to know more as they consider the line between fact and fiction.

Pub Date: June 1, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2012

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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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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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