Despite her typical wit, intelligence and discernment, Giffin may not be able to win her audience with this problematic...

THE ONE & ONLY

After the death of a beloved family friend, Shea Rigsby realizes she’s been treading water. Will a spectacular new job and a fairy-tale romance change everything or simply remind her of what she truly loves?

At 33, Shea is in a listless relationship and has a fun but dead-end job at her hometown alma mater, Walker University. Walker is in Texas, where football is right next to God, and its highly successful football program has been under the sage and celebrated guidance of head coach Clive Carr for years. Shea’s practically a member of the Carr family; her mom is best friends with Connie, Coach’s wife, and Shea’s been best friends with their daughter, Lucy, since birth. But after Connie succumbs to cancer, everyone is emotionally unmoored, and they collectively decide to focus their energy on moving Shea forward. Breaking off with her aimless boyfriend opens up space for a thrilling new relationship with a former Walker superstar now playing in the NFL. And with a little help from Coach, she lands her dream job as a Dallas sports reporter. But even as everything seems to be going so well, Shea is a little stunned to find that she isn't really happy and that her job as a reporter may force her to face some unsettling truths about her star-kissed boyfriend, the world of college sports and the man she’s had a lifelong crush on—for the good and the bad. Best-seller Giffin (Where We Belong, 2012, etc.), known for her insightful exploration of women’s deepest desires, has taken on a hard-sell storyline in her newest novel. While her in-depth look at football, family dynamics and unexpected romance is both compelling and perceptive, it also takes some disconcerting turns, and readers may find the story ventures too far outside their comfort zones.

Despite her typical wit, intelligence and discernment, Giffin may not be able to win her audience with this problematic romantic journey.

Pub Date: May 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-345-54688-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: July 10, 2014

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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Tinny perhaps, but still a minutely rendered and impressively steady feminist vision of apocalypse.

THE HANDMAID'S TALE

The time is the not-so-distant future, when the US's spiraling social freedoms have finally called down a reaction, an Iranian-style repressive "monotheocracy" calling itself the Republic of Gilead—a Bible-thumping, racist, capital-punishing, and misogynistic rule that would do away with pleasure altogether were it not for one thing: that the Gileadan women, pure and true (as opposed to all the nonbelieving women, those who've ever been adulterous or married more than once), are found rarely fertile.

Thus are drafted a whole class of "handmaids," whose function is to bear the children of the elite, to be fecund or else (else being certain death, sent out to be toxic-waste removers on outlying islands). The narrative frame for Atwood's dystopian vision is the hopeless private testimony of one of these surrogate mothers, Offred ("of" plus the name of her male protector). Lying cradled by the body of the barren wife, being meanwhile serviced by the husband, Offred's "ceremony" must be successful—if she does not want to join the ranks of the other disappeared (which include her mother, her husband—dead—and small daughter, all taken away during the years of revolt). One Of her only human conduits is a gradually developing affair with her master's chauffeur—something that's balanced more than offset, though, by the master's hypocritically un-Puritan use of her as a kind of B-girl at private parties held by the ruling men in a spirit of nostalgia and lust. This latter relationship, edging into real need (the master's), is very effectively done; it highlights the handmaid's (read Everywoman's) eternal exploitation, profane or sacred ("We are two-legged wombs, that's all: sacred vessels, ambulatory chalices"). Atwood, to her credit, creates a chillingly specific, imaginable night-mare. The book is short on characterization—this is Atwood, never a warm writer, at her steeliest—and long on cynicism—it's got none of the human credibility of a work such as Walker Percy's Love In The Ruins. But the scariness is visceral, a world that's like a dangerous and even fatal grid, an electrified fence.

Tinny perhaps, but still a minutely rendered and impressively steady feminist vision of apocalypse.

Pub Date: Feb. 17, 1985

ISBN: 038549081X

Page Count: -

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1985

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