The Fifty Shades trilogy ends with a lot of action, emotional tension and flashes of enlightenment; fans will be satisfied...

FIFTY SHADES FREED

From the Fifty Shades Trilogy series , Vol. 3

Ana and Christian get married, but continued physical and emotional threats, as well as Christian’s need for control, mitigate their bliss.

At the end of Fifty Shades Darker, Anastasia Steele agrees to marry her beloved magnate-billionaire boyfriend, Christian Grey. Fifty Shades Freed starts with their wedding and honeymoon, a fairy-tale journey through Europe that leaves Ana amazed and conflicted. Uncertain about her own ambitions and identity in the face of Grey’s staggering wealth and heady sexual pull, Ana sets out to stake a claim in the publishing world, helped and hindered by the fact that Christian has bought the company. Her continued personal and professional ambivalence is forgotten as she deals with personal tragedy; then exacerbated by a chafing desire for some individual freedom; and finally overshadowed by a continued threat that hovers over Ana and Christian from an old, malevolent enemy with connections to Grey’s past no one would expect and Christian doesn’t remember. Navigating a breathless few weeks of nonstop action and emotional turmoil, Ana makes some critical errors in judgment that will impact the couple forever, and Christian must finally confront some profound, painful truths in order to move forward to the life he never believed possible, but which rests within his grasp. James’ final segment of the hugely popular Fifty Shades trilogy continues along in the same vein as Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker—some compelling story arcs and a romantic “what-if” fairy-tale scenario. Ana comes across as more rather than less mature and poised in this book in some ways, particularly in her ability to whip up righteous anger toward Christian for being suffocating and stalker-ish—in order to keep her safe in the face of real danger—while taking little to no responsibility for breaking her own promises that compromise her safety. In general, the flow is decent, the story is well-paced and the dialogue remains better than expected, but there is a lot packed into this book, and it can be a little overwhelming and unbelievable. At times, too, Ana, rather than Christian, comes across as rigid and difficult, creating trumped up conflict. However, since the true function of this book is to assure the many Fifty Shades fans that all is well in Ana and Christian’s world, and they truly can overcome any and every possible thing, then the mission is accomplished in a satisfying way, with a healthy dose of hot sex. The short chapters at the end of the book—unmarked prologue and epilogue from Christian’s point of view—offer an intriguing peek into Christian’s psyche.

The Fifty Shades trilogy ends with a lot of action, emotional tension and flashes of enlightenment; fans will be satisfied that all’s well that ends well in the Grey house...er, mansion.

Pub Date: April 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-345-80350-4

Page Count: 583

Publisher: Vintage

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2012

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A breezy tale perfect for a day at the beach, this one’s a real winner.

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THE HATING GAME

Lucy Hutton absolutely detests her office mate Joshua Templeman. He’s a pompous, self-important, obnoxious ass. But, she’s got to admit, he is pretty cute.

From the moment they meet, a result of the unwelcome corporate merger between their employers, Lucy and Joshua are at odds. Joshua is assistant to the CEO of what was once Bexley Publishing, a numbers-crunching, foosball-playing frat house–cum-business. Lucy is assistant to the CEO of the now-defunct Gamin Publishing, a Birkenstock-clad, free-flowing commune of literary purists. When the two companies begrudgingly become one, so does the executive suite. Thus begins this hate-at-first-sight romantic comedy. Lucy and Joshua’s daily interactions include the staring game, the mirror game, and the HR game, each played with the intensity of the Hunger Games. Their mutual antipathy grows when a new executive position opens at Bexley-Gamin Publishing and both Lucy's and Joshua’s bosses think their protégés would be the perfect choice. Here the high-stakes game begins. After yet another 60-hour work week, which now includes prepping for upcoming interviews, Lucy logs off of her computer (Password: IHATEJOSHUA4EV@) to head home, but not before her rival hops into the elevator with her. When Joshua hits the emergency button and stops the ride, Lucy is certain her nemesis is going to kill her. Instead, he plants a (completely consensual) kiss on her that awakens something she hadn’t known existed. Debut novelist Thorne delivers something nearly impossible: an entirely predictable plot that is also completely fresh, original, and utterly charming. From the opening page, readers will know the outcome of Lucy and Joshua’s relationship, but what happens in between is magic. From Lucy’s hilarious inner dialogue to Joshua’s sharp retorts, the chemistry between them is irresistibly adorable—and smokin’ hot.

A breezy tale perfect for a day at the beach, this one’s a real winner.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-243959-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Romance and melodrama mix uneasily with mass murder.

THE WINTER GUEST

An 18-year-old Polish girl falls in love, swoons over a first kiss, dreams of marriage—and, oh yes, we are in the middle of the Holocaust.

Jenoff (The Ambassador’s Daughter, 2013, etc.) weaves a tale of fevered teenage love in a time of horrors in the early 1940s, as the Nazis invade Poland and herd Jews into ghettos and concentration camps. A prologue set in 2013, narrated by a resident of the Westchester Senior Center, provides an intriguing setup. A woman and a policeman visit the resident and ask if she came from a small Polish village. Their purpose is unclear until they mention bones recently found there: “And we think you might know something about them.” The book proceeds in the third person, told from the points of view mostly of teenage Helena, who comes upon an injured young Jewish-American soldier, and sometimes of her twin, Ruth, who is not as adventurous as Helena but is very competitive with her. Their father is dead, their mother is dying in a hospital, and they are raising their three younger siblings amid danger and hardship. The romance between Helena and Sam, the soldier, is often conveyed in overheated language that doesn’t sit well with the era’s tragic events: “There had been an intensity to his embrace that said he was barely able to contain himself, that he also wanted more.” Jenoff, clearly on the side of tolerance, slips in a simplified historical framework for the uninformed. But she also feeds stereotypes, having Helena note that Sam has “a slight arch to his nose” and a dark complexion that “would make him suspect as a Jew immediately.” Clichés also pop up during the increasingly complex plot: “But even if they stood in place, the world around them would not.”

Romance and melodrama mix uneasily with mass murder.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7783-1596-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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