Mullett Lake in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula provides the backdrop for this shifting narrative of love, death and a second chance.

Coburn’s romantic novel is shared by a quartet of characters: Paul Crockett is a reliable local handyman/contractor; Jessica is the love of his life; Claudia Cardinelli is a vacation cottager with a wandering husband, Freddie; and supporting this cast is neighbor Agnes Decker, who is a catalyst for helping Paul and Claudia move beyond their low points. Claudia has had a miscarriage and later discovers Freddie is having an affair. Faced with these revelations, she considers divorce, but fate steps in and Freddie is killed in a motorcycle accident (along with his girlfriend). Before his demise, readers observe Freddie in a bar with his girlfriend, and his Harley Davidson parked outside, though these glimpses elicit little empathy from the reader. As Paul tools around Mullett Lake, readers learn the back story of his relationship with Jessica; the two were very much in love and moved away from the community, but Paul has inexplicably returned alone. Paul, 50, and 35-year-old Claudia are brought together by Mrs. Decker and some time after going to the Hack-Ma-Tack for drinks, they fall in love. But is this the happily ever after for which they’re both looking for? And what about Jessica? Coburn effectively depicts this transitional time for Paul and Claudia. The novel is short and the pace is brisk. Characters are believable and the romance is engaging. Much is made of the age difference between Paul and Claudia, with a definite slant toward the 50-year-old male perspective. (Readers are reminded often that Paul is very fit.) While the story focuses on moving beyond loss and the importance of hope, the work would have benefited from more complexity. Strong in establishing the Mullett Lake environment, the author also nicely captures the bittersweet, fleeting quality of love. A pleasant, predictable tale that will satisfy fans of character-driven romance.

Pub Date: March 24, 2011

ISBN: 978-0615462127

Page Count: 118

Publisher: Michael Coburn Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.


Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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