Entertaining fluff—and sure to sell.

BAD BOY

Clothes make the man . . . and the man makes the woman.

Or so thinks Seattle journalist Tracie Higgins, who keeps herself busy writing feature stories for a local newspaper, hanging out with an assortment of comical pals, and letting her slacker boyfriend Phil take advantage of her. When Tracie complains to her longtime best friend Jon, he wonders why women always fall for users and losers like Phil. Jon is a great guy who always does the right thing—from making a modest fortune in the city’s computer industry to visiting each of his several stepmothers and his own mom on Mother’s Day. But since he can’t get a date, he asks Tracie on a whim to make him over. She eagerly complies, tossing out his dorky khakis and company T-shirts in favor of unbuttoned black leather shirts and torn jeans, insisting that he get a sexy, spiky haircut, dubbing him Johnny in the name of ersatz badness, and setting him loose on the unsuspecting female population of Seattle. After some initial strikeouts, Jon hits pay dirt with Tracie’s buddy Beth, who announces some amazing news the very next morning: Jon is fabulous between the sheets. Tracie finally wises up and realizes what she’s been overlooking all these years. She’s in love. But will Jon believe it when a tell-all account of his makeover and subsequent bungling appears in the newspaper? Fresh and funny for the most part, although Goldsmith (The First Wives Club, 1992, etc.) supplies enough trendy cuteness to fill a shopping mall. And the story’s central conceit—that an intelligent, sensitive, kind, attractive, hard-working, loyal, rich guy who’s also great in bed would somehow be invisible to the opposite sex—boggles the mind and begs the question any post-teen female reader would scream at cheerfully oblivious Tracie: Are you crazy?

Entertaining fluff—and sure to sell.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2001

ISBN: 0-525-94558-X

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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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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A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.

THE CHASE

From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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