A satisfying romance with well-drawn characters.


From the St. Caroline series , Vol. 4

A devastating car accident forces a happily married couple to confront a new reality in this novel.

When Serena Irving met Oliver Wolfe at a firemen’s carnival in St. Caroline, a small town on the eastern shore of Maryland, their attraction was immediate. After a whirlwind romance, the Princeton-educated daughter of a wealthy New York family married the firefighter and settled in St. Caroline despite her parents’ objections. Eight years later, Serena and Oliver have two sons, Mason and Cam, and she is pregnant again when a car accident leaves her in a coma for four months. When she wakes, Oliver is surprised to discover Serena has no memory of the past seven years. After physical therapy, she returns to a house she does not recognize and tries to adjust to life as the mother of two young sons. She finds support from her best friend, Ashley Wardman, a photographer coping with the recent death of her husband, Ben. Oliver, reeling from the death of his mother, Angie, tries to help; but he senses something is different about his wife. As her memories return, Serena discovers she has a talent for teaching. When a letter arrives for Serena from an attorney representing Ben, Oliver suspects that his wife may have had a secret life. This fourth installment of Gabriel’s (Hearts on Fire, 2017, etc.) St. Caroline series is an appealing contemporary romance and an affecting portrait of a family recovering after a shattering tragedy. The story opens with Serena emerging from her coma. The author deftly establishes the history of Serena and Oliver’s relationship through flashbacks and their memories. The two are winsome protagonists whose romance endures despite her parents’ belief that the couple would “split up within the year.” While Oliver’s suspicions about his wife seem overblown, the subplot does allow the author to effectively explore the firefighter’s fears that the life he can offer Serena in St. Caroline cannot compete with her privileged upbringing. Readers of the series will recognize characters from the previous installments, including Becca Trevor and Jack Wolfe as well as other members of their extended families.

A satisfying romance with well-drawn characters.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9996548-9-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Serif Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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