With an ending that is never in question, this tale offers the pleasant experience of simply enjoying a lighthearted frolic...

THE VISCOUNT AND THE VICAR’S DAUGHTER

A VICTORIAN ROMANCE

An angel and a playboy find love in Matthews’ (The Lost Letter, 2017, etc.) latest Victorian romance.

Valentine March is all alone in the world after the death of her father, a small-town English vicar. With few options, Valentine takes a position as a companion to the abominable Lady Brightwell. Despite some unattractive clothing and a lower social status, Valentine’s beauty and innocence attract the attention of Tristan Sinclair, the infamous Viscount St. Ashton. When the love-struck couple are caught in a passionate kiss, the playboy swears off his life of gambling, brawling, and women and promises to make an honest woman of Valentine. But his father, the Earl of Lynden, has other ideas about his heir’s future. He sends Tristan to his remote estate in Northumberland and, in a Cinderella moment, ascertains that Valentine is a woman of high breeding and connects her with her long-lost and wealthy family. Happily, the two lovers are determined to uphold their promises, though they both battle uncertainty regarding the other’s true feelings. Despite a formulaic plot and predictable outcome, Matthews’ tale hits all the high notes of a great romance novel. Valentine, the heroine, is a spunky underdog completely unaware of her own beauty and uninterested in material wealth. Tristan is a smoldering hunk of love, a bad boy with a soft heart who just wants someone to believe in him. Their mutual attraction is a joy to behold. But this romance is not a bodice-ripper. Except for a few steamy kisses, this is a rather chaste love story that focuses on emotions rather than sex scenes. Matthews is a polished writer who knows her genre and audience. Several scenes, as when Tristan swoops in to boot out Valentine’s sleazy former suitor, are particularly entertaining and allow the Viscount to play the hero. “No one has ever stood up for me before,” Valentine gasps. “You were magnificent.” Cue the satisfied sighs of romance readers everywhere.

With an ending that is never in question, this tale offers the pleasant experience of simply enjoying a lighthearted frolic in the past.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9990364-3-3

Page Count: 245

Publisher: Perfectly Proper Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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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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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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