Its share of lulls notwithstanding, a significant, well-captured journey.

FROM PARADISE TO HELL - AND BACK

James’ debut novel tells the story of a man’s journey from childhood to family man and all of life’s inescapable hardships.

Simon lives his preteen years in Italy during World War II. As a young man, he decides to travel abroad, hoping to pick up other languages and improve his career options. He works various jobs in France and England, and he meets many women before he settles on a vocation and marries an Irish woman, Alice. They have two sons, but things look bleak when doctors give them dismal news. Sometimes the narrative reads like a transcript of someone’s voice-recorded memoirs with the occasional random offset. But the author also convincingly portrays the era, most tellingly during the war, when people hid in cellars from bombings, and bullet casings from planes were found in fields next to livestock. Most of the potential loves in Simon’s life don’t last long, so Alice is a welcome introduction. Occasionally, odd word choices crop up, as when someone asks Simon to “remove” his beard. Simon travels to many places for business and family, including Japan, Hong Kong and Greece, but these accounts merely describe the change in culture or food and don’t advance the tale. The final two chapters are sad; by the end, Simon replays his own version of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. He mocks both religion and science. Simon implies that war, which recurs as a theme, is a natural progression of religion and science. He advocates a way for peace, but he immediately negates it.

Its share of lulls notwithstanding, a significant, well-captured journey.

Pub Date: April 23, 2012

ISBN: 978-1469176024

Page Count: 226

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2013

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A light, low-conflict Georgian romance.

THE SPINSTER AND THE RAKE

In Devon’s historical romance novel, a bold English countrywoman meets a duke with a secret.

It’s 1795, and Edward Stanhope, the Duke of Thornfield, is beset by a house party full of young ladies vying for the unmarried man’s attention. In frustration, he retires to his private library, where he finds yet another woman—Miss Georgiana Bly, regarded by many of her peers as a plain country spinster. He asks her to leave, but she defies him, not realizing that he’s the duke; to force her to go, he threatens to kiss her. However, she calls his bluff, which sets in motion a series of events that ends with them engaged. Georgiana has little experience in posh society, so Edward and his aunt go about training her in the proper ways of being a duchess. At the same time, she takes it upon herself to train the cold and sometimes socially awkward duke to be warmer and more easygoing. The couple quickly find that they share a love of literature, but Edward seems incapable of providing the emotional intimacy that Georgiana craves. Edward finally confesses that he’s always felt that his mind works differently than others’—readers may interpret his description to mean that he has an anxiety disorder or is on the autism spectrum, although this is never specified—and he worries if he’ll inadvertently drive Georgiana away. Then Georgiana’s father becomes embroiled in a scandal that could undo everything. Devon, the author of The Wallflower’s Wild Wedding (2021), effectively drops hints about Edward’s secret from the very first pages. However, he’s far from a rakish character, despite the novel’s title, as he dislikes all but a very small circle of people. Georgiana is an enjoyable heroine who’s well versed in politics and literature and a quick study when it comes to the rules of society, even as she flouts the ones that she thinks are silly. Overall, the novel is rather short on conflict, and the action often pauses at length so that the characters may have long conversations about William Shakespeare or Parliament. Still, the characters are a lively, well-realized group.

A light, low-conflict Georgian romance.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68281-613-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Entangled: Amara

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: tomorrow

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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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