A love story with disconcerting implications that are not fully explored.


In Aguilar’s debut novel, an accomplished Filipina is unable to resist the wishes of a wealthy CEO.

Elizabeth Agustin is a Filipina from a wealthy family, educated at business school and then at law school in the United States. After her father’s death, she returns to the Philippines to be closer to her mother. She establishes an investment firm and becomes quite successful. Elizabeth is completely focused on her company and career, taking little time for fun, until she meets Ronaldo Mendoza, a CEO living in the penthouse of a hotel. Ronaldo and Elizabeth spend an increasing amount of time together, but Ronaldo’s marital status at first keeps them from pursuing a relationship. Even though Ronaldo has been separated from his wife for over five years (his wife is making the annulment difficult), Elizabeth resists. After three years of dating, Elizabeth finally gives in to Ronaldo and agrees to move in with him and consummate their relationship. She even bears him a son. They’re happy until a sudden incident brings their comfortable life crashing down. Aguilar separates the novel into four parts: The first recounts the beginning of Elizabeth and Ronaldo’s relationship; the second follows the escalation of their relationship when they fully commit to each other despite not being able to marry; the third part begins after a tragic accident leaves Elizabeth alone with only the secrets of her past. In her foolishness to rebel against her father’s wishes, Elizabeth fell into the traps of a patriarchal society in which women have few options in life. The fourth part describes the aftermath of the terrible accident and brings to light the alarming past connection Ronaldo and Elizabeth share. The story doesn’t benefit from this organization, which favors a surprise ending over character development. Similarly, the first-person point of view limits the depth to which Ronaldo’s character can be explored, while awkward word choices add a few stumbling blocks. Aguilar weaves the history and culture of the Philippines into the story but abruptly glosses over some plot points, particularly the death of a main character. As a woman, Elizabeth is self-aware in some respects yet—even though she’s a business owner, educated and financially self-sufficient—incapable of resisting the wiles of Ronaldo.

A love story with disconcerting implications that are not fully explored.

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-1496985415

Page Count: 258

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2014

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


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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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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