A steamy, sun-drenched California romance with some intriguingly serious undertones.


From the Giving You ... series , Vol. 1

A reserved and vulnerable West Coast lawyer takes a chance on a stranger.

McAdam’s fiction debut, the first installment of a series, flows along fairly standard romance-novel templates. It opens with its likable California heroine, Santa Barbara attorney Amelia Crowley, in bed with yet another well-intentioned but lackluster lover. She ticks off in her head the list of personal rules she’s recently developed that are meant to reflect her realistic expectations (“Nothing demeaning”; “No submission. I am always in control”) but also signal the toll that her history of deep depression has taken on her personal life. She talks about those factors—her “personal pathological repression”—with her therapist, who echoes her worry that her depression has flattened her healthy sex life and counsels her to take more active steps to reconnect with her own sensuality. That advice is on her mind one morning when she visits Southwinds Coffee in Ventura on her way to court and encounters the shop’s smolderingly sexy owner, dreamy surfer guy Ryan Fielding. The two have instant romantic chemistry and begin flirting almost before Amelia’s first coffee cools, with the main thrust of the rest of the book the unfolding of their relationship. Ryan is practically perfect in every way: loving, gentle, patient, funny, and instantly, puppy-ishly loyal. Amelia is flawed, self-doubting, and emotionally needy, and the two are immediately, wildly compatible—especially in the bedroom, where Ryan’s passion promptly makes Amelia throw her rules out the nearest window. The conventional nature of all this is salvaged by the frank and sometimes-multilayered ways McAdam deals with Amelia’s depression issues; readers are periodically reminded about the kind of hell this character has gone through. And while Ryan’s nearly divine sensitivity and interest (he quickly reveals that he’s lusted after Amelia since they both attended the same high school) might be a sign of narrative insecurity—the story would certainly have been more absorbing if he was anywhere near as flawed as she is—the author does a wonderfully light and engaging job of portraying the development of a friendship alongside the explicit sexual acrobatics.

A steamy, sun-drenched California romance with some intriguingly serious undertones.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-692-64519-2

Page Count: 282

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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