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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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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Laymon moves us dazzlingly (and sometimes bewilderingly) from 1964 to 1985 to 2013 and incorporates themes of prejudice,...


A novel within a novel—hilarious, moving and occasionally dizzying.

Citoyen “City” Coldson is a 14-year-old wunderkind when it comes to crafting sentences. In fact, his only rival is his classmate LaVander Peeler. Although the two don’t get along, they’ve qualified to appear on the national finals of the contest "Can You Use That Word in a Sentence," and each is determined to win. Unfortunately, on the nationally televised show, City is given the word “niggardly” and, to say the least, does not provide a “correct, appropriate or dynamic usage” of the word as the rules require. LaVander similarly blows his chance with the word “chitterlings,” so both are humiliated, City the more so since his appearance is available to all on YouTube. This leads to a confrontation with his grandmother, alas for City, “the greatest whupper in the history of Mississippi whuppings.” Meanwhile, the principal at City’s school has given him a book entitled Long Division. When City begins to read this, he discovers that the main character is named City Coldson, and he’s in love with a Shalaya Crump...but this is in 1985, and the contest finals occurred in 2013. (Laymon is nothing if not contemporary.) A girl named Baize Shephard also appears in the novel City is reading, though in 2013, she has mysteriously disappeared a few weeks before City’s humiliation. Laymon cleverly interweaves his narrative threads and connects characters in surprising and seemingly impossible ways.

Laymon moves us dazzlingly (and sometimes bewilderingly) from 1964 to 1985 to 2013 and incorporates themes of prejudice, confusion and love rooted in an emphatically post-Katrina world.

Pub Date: June 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-932841-72-5

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Bolden/Agate

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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