A dizzyingly enjoyable spy plot that offers consistent suspense.

Power

From the The Betty Chronicles series , Vol. 2

In Mahler’s (Money, 2011, etc.) latest thriller, secret agent Betty Thursten ends up in the cross hairs of her black-ops employer, who thinks that she’s gone rogue.

Betty works for Control, which is targeting a global empire called the World Order Cabal—a group that’s most likely behind her fiance José’s murder. Her latest mission leaves her injured and her partner, Gil, captured. As Betty spends her ensuing downtime at her apartment, things take an unexpected turn. After she glimpses a friend’s private message, she begins to question not only her own parentage, but her part in Control. Meanwhile, her former lover and current boss, Tom Howell, has his own doubts about the agency founded by his father, which isn’t above committing atrocious deeds to keep its secrets. His affection for Betty clashes with his father’s demand that she be added to a termination list. This densely plotted novel picks up right where the previous one left off, with Betty and Gil in midassignment. Readers need not have read the previous book, although it does enhance the story. An operative named Babs, for example, has a minor but significant role here, but the details of her curious association with Tom were revealed in the preceding novel. There’s a lot more action this time around, though, particularly after Betty realizes that the World Order Cabal is keeping Gil prisoner and decides to rescue him. The plot also has more intrigue, as more than one character learns new information about his or her bloodlines. The numerous connections between characters can be confusing, but occasional recaps help; a bewildered Betty even begins one with the phrase, “Let me get this straight.” Still, the author wisely opts for a more linear tale in this installment, tying off lingering storylines, including one about a pesky mole in Control, while leaving a few subplots open for another sequel.

A dizzyingly enjoyable spy plot that offers consistent suspense.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9882628-1-2

Page Count: 304

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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