A law school graduate is torn between her ambition and the temptations of Houston’s decadent party scene in Bartlett Hooper’s debut novel.
Cate Morgan is a young woman who’s determined to overcome a troubled childhood marked by poverty and a tumultuous relationship with her mother. While working as a waitress, she successfully juggled law school and an internship at a prestigious law firm. Despite her hardscrabble background, she’s now in a social circle comprised of Houston’s social elite and invited to all of the most exclusive parties. At one of them, she meets Eva, a young divorcée from Mexico City, and they become fast friends. Cate is soon swept into a whirl of nightclubs and parties where drugs are readily available and sexual peccadilloes are freely indulged. Eva’s deeply in love with Giovanni—nicknamed “Gio”—a native of Cuba who frequently travels to Miami due to the demands of his family’s business. Cate’s carefully planned future is unsettled when she meets this darkly handsome man; their attraction is powerful and immediate, but Cate doesn’t want to risk her friendship with Eva. An unforgettable night of passion leaves Cate with a seemingly impossible choice. Bartlett Hooper’s brisk narrative brings the city’s glamorous, decadent social scene to life. Cate is a strong, well-developed heroine whose involvement with Eva and Gio inspires them both to examine their own choices and desires. Her flirtation with Gio, while predictable at times, generates much-needed sexual tension. Bartlett Hooper also does a fine job of contrasting Cate’s ability to live on her own and support herself with Eva’s sheltered, traditional upbringing. The novel would have benefited from tighter editing, though; early in the story, for example, Cate puts on a dress “cinched tightly at the waste.”
A fun, lightweight romp featuring a likable heroine and a lively depiction of 1980s Houston nightlife.