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POTENT PLEASURES

James' tale is often bright and funny, though the reader may wish for a plot not driven solely by the whims of a shallow...

A Regency historical with a flawed hero, courtesy of newcomer James.

Since his return to London, Alex Foakes, the dashing Earl of Sheffield and Downes, is being called the “Ineligible Earl.” It seems his wanton Italian wife, who made his life miserable and cuckolded him frequently, had their marriage annulled on grounds of impotence—all in order to run away with a defrocked priest. So happy to leave the marital state that he willingly admitted to anything, Alex brings his infant daughter back to England after his divorced wife’s death from scarlet fever, amid silly rumors of his inability to continue to breed aristocrats. No one knows better that he is not a “floppy poppy” than Charlotte Calverstill, the youngest daughter of the Duke of Calverstill, whose virginity Alex took at a masquerade ball three years earlier, just before Charlotte was about to make her debut into the British ton, which she did in an ocean of blue delphiniums. Now a reigning beauty and an accomplished portrait painter, Charlotte is reunited with Alex (though he doesn't remember her, since they were both in costume). All is swell until Alex discovers that his passionate bride isn't a virgin. Having had a poor Italian experience, he abuses and humiliates Charlotte, then decides to consign her to his chilly Scottish castle for the rest of her life. And poor Charlotte can never seem to find the right time to tell him that he was her deflowerer. Though Alex changes his mind and the couple have a blissful year together, the floppy poppy once again becomes enraged when he decides that the baby he and Charlotte conceive together is in fact the child of his twin brother Patrick. Reversing himself yet again, Alex will at last wise up, just as Charlotte seems near death in childbirth.

James' tale is often bright and funny, though the reader may wish for a plot not driven solely by the whims of a shallow hero.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 1999

ISBN: 0-385-33360-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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IT ENDS WITH US

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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