An engaging and unconventional love story.

THE EARL AND THE ENCHANTRESS

From the Enchantress series , Vol. 1

Two wallflowers bond over books in this debut historical romance.

Lizbeth Trethow is a “determined spinster and future lady’s companion,” but the prospect of a love match changes her mind. Her charming courtship with Roddam begins in a library, where they’ve both sought refuge from a tiresome party. Their shared interest in books arouses Lizbeth’s intellect and sparks her desire, but she has trouble locating her mystery man once they part ways. After an unfortunate mix-up with him and his raffish cousin Drake, the duke of Annick, Lizbeth learns that her Mr. Roddam is actually Sebastian, the earl of Roddam. Her Aunt Hazel says the nobleman is a highly desirable match for a woman of her station, but Lizbeth won’t settle for a marriage of convenience. And Sebastian, who harbors a terrible secret from his childhood, fears emotional intimacy. When he discovers that he and Lizbeth both live in cities connected to King Arthur, Sebastian’s idol, she seems almost too good to be true. Even the frosty dowager duchess begrudgingly approves of her. The historical touches within each decadent ball, the allure of Sebastian’s castle restoration project, and the discussion of old books like Samuel Richardson’s Pamela when they were much newer enhance the 1790 setting. And the mystery of Sebastian’s haunted past lends intrigue to Golden’s series opener long after the couple say I do, expanding its scope. Meanwhile, Lizbeth’s sister, Charlotte, is willing to marry for status. That is, until she weds Drake and finds that she’s lonely. (He may be a rake, but his sense of humor makes him worthy of a second chance in the sequel.) Both romantic plotlines continue well beyond the initial happily-ever-after, offering unexpected twists and further character development. The author adds a few extra ingredients to the romantic formula, with pleasing results.

An engaging and unconventional love story.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-73283-420-0

Page Count: 466

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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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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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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