Distinctive and satisfying romantic suspense.

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CATALYST

From the Flashpoint series

When an American aid worker disappears in South Sudan, an unlikely ally comes to her rescue in this sequel.

Gabriella Stewart Prime is the last woman Chief Warrant Officer Sebastian Ford ever expected to see at Camp Citron in Djibouti in Africa. Ten years ago, while working for her family’s company, Prime Energy, she defended an oil pipeline project that threatened to undermine Native American treaty rights. While his tribe’s land, the Kalahwamish Reservation in Washington state, was not jeopardized, Ford still opposed the project. Despite his anger over the pipeline, he finds her irresistibly attractive (“She had a maturity about her that had been missing before”). In the years since the project, Gabriella cut ties with her family, received a master’s degree in cultural anthropology, and changed her name to Brie Stewart. She is now a dedicated aid worker who plans to help villagers in South Sudan displaced by civil war. Later, when she disappears in the aftermath of the burning of a food storage depot, Ford’s team is assigned to find her. He discovers she has been abducted and taken to a market where she will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. After a dramatic rescue, Ford and Stewart find themselves falling in love and facing danger when an investigation is launched into the incident. The attack on the depot was not random and Stewart may be a pawn in an international conspiracy. The second novel in Grant’s (Tinderbox, 2017, etc.) Flashpoint series offers intelligent romantic suspense that moves with the urgency of a thriller. The well-researched and timely plot finds the heroes confronting the realities of famine in South Sudan while unraveling a complex scheme to secure oil rights in the region. Although the conspiracy at the heart of the story is complex, Grant successfully unites the various plot threads, and the action is gripping without being gratuitously violent. As with Tinderbox, the heroes are nuanced and their scenes sizzle with erotic tension. Stewart and Ford’s romance develops slowly as both struggle with their pasts and concerns that their relationship may not be accepted by others. Although newcomers to the series do not need to read Tinderbox to enjoy this novel, familiarity with the story might enrich the references to supporting characters Morgan Adler and Pax Blanchard.

Distinctive and satisfying romantic suspense.

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-944571-12-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Janus Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 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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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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