Devotees of romance novels will enjoy the plot and perhaps forgive the stiff, naïve narration.

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THE LOST LETTER

When a letter never makes it to its intended recipient, the consequences start to fall like dominos.

As a teenager, Trudy fell in love with Richard, a young Dutchman whose family owned a farm in America. His family, however, disapproved of their relationship. He returned to the Netherlands for school and sent Trudy a letter declaring his love and begging her to reciprocate. That letter fell behind a wall cabinet in a U.S. Post Office and was lost for 35 years. When he didn’t hear from her, Richard sent Trudy a second letter ending their relationship. Both Richard and Trudy went on to marry others and build happy lives, he as a wildly successful international businessman, she as a teacher. The first letter then reappears just as Trudy’s 24-year marriage to Kenneth is on shaky ground, and she finds herself facing a lifetime’s worth of what ifs. Trudy wrestles with the thrill of seeing her teenage love as a grown-up—not to mention suave and wealthy—man, while at the same time anticipating Kenneth’s return from Iraq, mending her marriage, planning her daughter’s engagement party and trying to hold onto her job. Stevens (Inn in Abingdon, 2011) turns Trudy’s story into a modern, middle-aged princess fantasy, as she gets a small taste of what her life could have been like as the wife of an international business tycoon. Unsurprisingly—yet satisfyingly—she realizes who her true love is, but misunderstandings and more lost items complicate her path back to him. Stevens checks off all the romance novel requirements, including idealized characters with idealized looks: “The Queen Anne cheval mirror reflected her curvy figure as she slid her hands from her waist and over her hips. Turning sideways, Trudy could see the results of her exercise routine that kept her weight down and her figure firm.” The plot moves swiftly through the second half of the book, but as a whole, it is weighed down by pages of exposition and stilted dialogue.

Devotees of romance novels will enjoy the plot and perhaps forgive the stiff, naïve narration.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-1936553273

Page Count: 282

Publisher: Warwick House Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

ALMOST JUST FRIENDS

Piper Manning is determined to sell her family’s property so she can leave her hometown behind, but when her siblings come back with life-changing secrets and her sexy neighbor begins to feel like “The One,” she might have to redo her to-do list.

As children, Piper and her younger siblings, Gavin and Winnie, were sent to live with their grandparents in Wildstone, California, from the Congo after one of Gavin’s friends was killed. Their parents were supposed to meet them later but never made it. Piper wound up being more of a parent than her grandparents, though: “In the end, Piper had done all the raising. It’d taken forever, but now, finally, her brother and sister were off living their own lives.” Piper, the queen of the bullet journal, plans to fix up the family’s lakeside property her grandparents left the three siblings when they died. Selling it will enable her to study to be a physician’s assistant as she’s always wanted. However, just as the goal seems in sight, Gavin and Winnie come home, ostensibly for Piper’s 30th birthday, and then never leave. Turns out, Piper’s brother and sister have recently managed to get into a couple buckets of trouble, and they need some time to reevaluate their options. They aren’t willing to share their problems with Piper, though they’ve been completely open with each other. And Winnie, who’s pregnant, has been very open with Piper’s neighbor Emmitt Reid and his visiting son, Camden, since the baby’s father is Cam’s younger brother, Rowan, who died a few months earlier in a car accident. Everyone has issues to navigate, made more complicated by Gavin and Winnie’s swearing Cam to secrecy just as he and Piper try—and fail—to ignore their attraction to each other. Shalvis keeps the physical and emotional tension high, though the siblings’ refusal to share with Piper becomes tedious and starts to feel childish.

Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296139-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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