An often engaging tale of a woman who’s just as comfortable with melodrama as she is with harrowing espionage.

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From the The Betty Chronicles series , Vol. 1

An attorney moonlighting as a covert agent helps a U.S. black-ops group target a powerful but diabolical organization bent on world domination in Mahler’s (Smoking Kills, 2010) thriller.

As far as Betty Thursten’s family knows, she’s an immigration lawyer in Washington, D.C. But her travels to out-of-state education conferences are typically covers for Betty to carry out assignments for clandestine agency Control. She was recruited by Tom Howell, her ex-boyfriend, who removed himself from her life for years before inexplicably returning. Betty struggles with her conflicted feelings for Tom as well as her physical attraction to fellow agent Gil Richardson. Meanwhile, there seems to be a mole intent on sabotaging Control missions as it sets its sights on the World Order Cabal, an organization that’s been around for centuries. Readers hoping for cover-to-cover espionage action, though, may be a little disappointed. Betty is unquestionably a stellar agent—a black belt in jujitsu who’s equally adept with a sniper’s rifle—but the story spends a great deal of time on events prior to her recruitment, including her relationship with Tom before he’s injured on assignment in Iraq. Mahler’s nonlinear story bounces from the present day to various flashbacks, but these energetic time jumps remain comprehensible throughout. The author also maintains a consistent level of mystery: readers eventually learn, for example, why a woman named Jil Harper is Betty’s former best friend as well as details behind the brutal murder of José Silva, Betty’s post-Tom fiance. Mahler too often lingers on Betty’s attempts to resist Gil’s physical allure—it’s perfectly clear that the two have enticing, “sculpted” bodies. But he also shows how Betty proves to be a formidable agent as she goes after significant players in the World Order Cabal. Along the way, he drops in a few good background elements, including the origins of both major spy organizations. At the same time, the story leaves some unanswered questions, such as the mole’s identity, which Mahler may be saving for a sequel.

An often engaging tale of a woman who’s just as comfortable with melodrama as she is with harrowing espionage.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9882628-0-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: White Bradford Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2015

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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