A well-developed romance wrapped in an engaging and fast-paced Western, complete with strong protagonists, colorful...

Desperate Straits

An Irishwoman encounters intrigue and the search for a lost treasure when she moves to the Arizona Territory in this debut novel.

Sarah Ryan is heartbroken after the death of her father. Instead of remaining in Ireland, she intends to move to America, where her sister and brother-in-law, Mary and Ben McAllister, live in the Arizona Territory with their son, Will. Upon arriving in Arizona, she finds her world shattered by another tragic loss—Mary and Ben. They were murdered on their ranch, Hermit’s Rest, leaving their son an orphan. Grief-stricken, she resolves to stay and help Will and the ranch hand, Jeremy, run Hermit’s Rest. When Texas Ranger L.T. McAllister, Ben’s brother, comes to town with a suspect in the murders, the townspeople anticipate a quick resolution to the case; but the arrest draws the ire of the sheriff, Grant Simpson. He is less concerned about maintaining law and order than he is about finding a treasure known as the Lost Adams Diggings. L.T.’s arrival threatens his ironclad grip on the town and his plans to locate the treasure. As Sarah and L.T. settle in to life at Hermit’s Rest, they discover a powerful, mutual attraction, but secrets from his past, and a dangerous enemy, put their lives in danger. Squires’ briskly paced romance crackles with energy thanks to well-drawn characters and settings. Sarah, a sympathetic heroine, discovers a fierce inner strength through helping Will and Jeremy run Hermit’s Rest. She has a strong romantic foil in L.T. Although he declines to discuss some aspects of his past, his rugged appearance and tough demeanor belie a kind heart and honorable sense of justice. They are surrounded by a colorful cast of supporting characters, including Jeremy, a longtime ranch hand at Hermit’s Rest who may hold the key to finding the lost treasure. Squires’ use of historical details bolsters her settings, particularly the depiction of everyday life in the Arizona Territory and the references to the Lost Adams Diggings.

A well-developed romance wrapped in an engaging and fast-paced Western, complete with strong protagonists, colorful settings, and superb historical details.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63355-755-0

Page Count: 338

Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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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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