Another Bridget Jones clone, with similar obsessions about weight, drink, fags, and all the sex nobody's getting. Mostly...

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ASKING FOR TROUBLE

When an imaginary boyfriend isn't enough . . . hire an escort.

Sophy Metcalfe is almost 30, and her interfering mother thinks it's high time she got married. Sick of the nagging, Sophy invents “Dominic,” a tall, handsome, up-and-coming investment banker who seems to have a lot of excuses for never showing up in person. But Mum insists he not wiggle out of escorting Sophy to her sister Belinda's wedding. Desperate, Sophy calls a highly respectable London escort service, which supplies Josh Carmichael, former Royal Marine. Josh is predictably tall and handsome, with a “crookedy” smile and “greeny-browny eyes like a river with the sun on them.” Not that a sophisticated woman like Sophy would fall in love just like that. First, there must be much irritable banter as she and Josh get to know each other before the ceremony. While Josh convinces the clueless, chatterbox mother and pompous father that he is indeed Dominic, Sophy’s dirty-minded friends know about her scheme and tease her relentlessly. Sophy simply sniffs, points out that theirs is just a business relationship, and continues to invent adjectives ending in “y.” After the wedding, she yearns for his company and starts playing girlish games to get his attention, like pretending her scruffy friend Ace is really her lover to make Josh jealous. Josh's countermove: showing up with an infant under each arm. Sophy is outraged, assuming he's married, but softens when she finds out he's babysitting his sister's twins just to be nice. The thin plot thickens a bit when Belinda jilts her new husband just before the honeymoon. Sophy, meanwhile, decides there are no sure things in life and she might as well gather her rosebuds. Fortunately, Josh is waiting for her with open arms.

Another Bridget Jones clone, with similar obsessions about weight, drink, fags, and all the sex nobody's getting. Mostly familiar debut, with a few funny lines.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-380-81897-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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THE VANISHING HALF

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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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

THE RESCUE

High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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