A fun, frothy read bolstered by a likable heroine and a snappy, fast-paced narrative.



A single mother embarks on an unconventional business venture in Doyle’s debut novel.

Amanda Keane loves her life in Chicago and her career as an editor at Fixtures magazine. For her 30th birthday, her friends treat her to an evening at Daly’s, a local bar and restaurant, with a blind date. However, the sparks truly fly when she meets Eamonn, the restaurant owner’s nephew. He’s an aspiring musician from Ireland who’s spending several months in the Windy City. But when Amanda discovers she’s pregnant with Eamonn’s child, he disappears from her life. Shortly after the birth of their daughter, Maddie, she loses her job at the magazine. When her friend Joy, a gynecologist, suggests that she try working as a wet nurse for wealthy mothers, she’s initially skeptical. However, with a baby to support and bills to pay, she does so, working on a contract basis for some of the most powerful women in town. Because of the sensitive nature of her services, Amanda keeps the true nature of her job a secret from her new boyfriend, Dan, a handsome single father she met at Maddie’s day care. Amanda’s attempts to balance her work and her blossoming romance are soon complicated by the demands of her job and the reappearance of a person from her past. Doyle brings a quirky premise to life with colorful characters and a brisk pace. The bright Amanda is the strongest player here; although she’s occasionally naïve when it comes to romance, her resourcefulness enables her to navigate the secret lives of Chicago’s elite. Doyle also establishes a nice contrast between the men in Amanda’s life: Eamonn is a charming louse who appeals to Amanda’s fantasy of dating a sensitive musician, while Dan and his son, Lucas, provide a strong sense of stability. Amanda’s employers all come from diverse backgrounds, but each harbors intriguing secrets. As Amanda’s journey takes her from the world of magazine journalism to the world of wealth, Doyle’s pacing never misses a beat.

A fun, frothy read bolstered by a likable heroine and a snappy, fast-paced narrative.

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0985352080

Page Count: 308

Publisher: Simon and Fig

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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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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More about grief and tragedy than romance.


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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