A diverting, lightweight romance.

LOVE ON THE DOCKS

Two disparate men vie for the affections of a beautiful, hardworking woman in Jarrett’s debut.

Most of her life, Jesse Tanner has loved Chris Kennedy, but he married someone else. Years later, Jesse takes over a broken-down marina in Montauk, Long Island, working 60-70 hours a week to make it shipshape for the grand reopening. Now divorced, Chris is devastated by the split and determined to never “go that route again.” A captain in the Marine Patrol, he assists the Coast Guard with rescues, and with all that fresh sea air and sun, he’s never looked better. One night, fueled by alcohol, the pair gives in to lust, half-naked among the lobster pots on a deserted dock, and Jesse declares her love. The morning after finds Jesse confessing that she drank too much and isn’t interested in Chris—lies, of course—and then a handsome Wall Street attorney arrives at the marina to reserve a Jet Ski. Polished and moneyed, Jeffrey Wilder has recently bought and renovated the legendary DiPinto place (soon to be profiled in Architectural Digest), and he’s in the market for a local honey. Jeff extravagantly woos Jesse and, on the town, the two often encounter Chris, who wonders if he might be in love with Jesse after all. It’s intelligence, wealth and the Gucci loafers of a Manhattan lawyer versus muscle, guts and the docksiders of a Montauk fisherman. Jesse’s mother, who can’t abide Chris, is rooting for Jeff while urging her daughter, to the point of manipulation, to return to her former swank job on Madison Ave. The book hits the ground running, with Jesse and Chris in the throes of passion, and then ratchets up the sexual tension with both becoming unwilling or unable to voice their feelings, and features about as much exploration of character as might be found in a typical rom-com. One nice touch is Jesse’s longtime English gal-pal, Susannah, who’s bright and funny, with her own set of man troubles—and, best of all, actually sounds like a Brit. The story is well paced, with a little adventure and real-life Montauk history thrown in, and an ending that neither surprises nor disappoints.

A diverting, lightweight romance.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2010

ISBN: 978-0557538041

Page Count: 162

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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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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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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