COMMAND OF THE KING

Another genre romance from Lide, this one more tied to the history books than her recent salt and heather-scented Tregaran duo since it concerns events during the early part of Henry VIII's reign. Here, in fact, it's 1512 when Lide raises the curtain on her downy-skinned Devonshire heroine, Philippa de Verne, daughter of a Yorkist traitor and just about to be married off to an elderly solicitor so that her wicked stepfather can steal her land. Coincidence throws her into the arms of one Richard Montacune, a Northumbrian lord returning from the wars in France. He saves her from a rape attempt; she offers up her lips, which he accepts while refusing to help her run away. Abscond she does, nonetheless, to Henry's court, where she plans to plead for the king's help. Instead, she lands in the middle of a Yorkist riot—where guess who shows up to rescue her again? (``Why, Lord Montacune, such a coincidence....'') Next, she winds up in the entourage of the king's sister, Princess Mary, a self-indulgent chit bent on resisting marriage to Emperor Charles. The princess has Philippa make her case before the king, resulting in another rape attempt, this one royal. Philippa's liaison with Mary continues to cause trouble in France when the princess marries Louis, elopes with an English duke after the French king's death, and finally betrays Philippa while trying to escape Henry's wrath. But all's well that ends well, since Montacune appears to fight for and win his lady fair at the lists. Surprisingly labored, characterless, and coincidence-plagued. In earlier books Lide's won the day out of sheer romantic panache. Not this time.

Pub Date: Dec. 18, 1991

ISBN: 0-312-06319-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1991

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

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.

FRIENDS FOREVER

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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