Silly debut. And not sexy at all.


A sex club for women—staffed by monks.

Okay, they’re Zen monks, though not Asian, and they haven’t taken vows of chastity. Thus, they’re at one with the eternal whatever, and they’re never, ever rude or rushed, unlike most men. Their female clients—an unappealing bunch of whiners, bulimics, and workaholics, all in group therapy—crave sex and are willing to pay for it. So what’s wrong with that? According to Sara Halprin, the group’s therapist, absolutely nothing. She loves her husband, a kindly orthodontist, and her teenaged daughter, but something’s been missing in her comfortable life. Something really important: men aren’t looking at her anymore. So she and younger sister Coralee, an upscale caterer, pool an unexpected inheritance to buy a big old house in Berkeley and turn it into a bordello-cum-massage-parlor dubbed Slow Hands. After reviewing an unattractive parade of lovers-for-hire, the sisters eventually decide in favor of some displaced-by-a-dot-com Buddhist monks. These beautifully built (all that kendo) holy men justify sex for hire, without a trace of irony, as a form of spiritual practice, not prostitution. But, it’s whispered discreetly, some money will be required now and then for jasmine incense, tatami mats, Jamaican Mountain Blue coffee, and other fabulous Third World treats beloved of the renascent counterculture. For women only, Slow Hands caters to the unloved, unhappy, and merely horny as a lot of high-minded rationalization of this implausible enterprise is bandied about and politically correct motivation is duly provided (this is Berkeley). Just don’t call Sara a “madam.” Her staff turns tricks to help women, and certainly not—heaven forfend—to turn a profit. Then Coralee gets breast cancer, Sara’s husband finds out about Slow Hands, and a right-wing neighbor, furious over the fun everyone else is having, not to mention the loss of his parking space, calls the cops and all wind up in court.

Silly debut. And not sexy at all.

Pub Date: June 1, 2003

ISBN: 1-55166-718-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2003

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...


Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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