The characters are thinly defined in this thriller, but the pace is nonstop.

Shameless

From the The Burton & Kazmaroff Mysteries series , Vol. 2

The gritty violence of a human-trafficking ring in Atlanta takes center stage in the second volume of this romantic suspense series.

Kiernan-Lewis (Wit’s End, 2016, etc.) brings back the detective duo of Mia Kazmaroff and Jack Burton, whom she introduced in 2014’s Reckless. The two quickly find themselves in danger after they agree to help José, an injured Hispanic man; he escaped from kidnappers and is trying to find his abductee sister, Maria. Just hours after José bunks down in Jack’s house for the night, he’s murdered and the place is burned to the ground. Jack wants to find the killer, and Mia wants to hunt for Maria, who, it turns out, is undergoing a hellish experience as a sex slave. Naturally, the two goals dovetail. Jack is a former police officer and now a part-time personal chef; Mia is an unemployed civilian with an unusual gift: she’s “able to tell the history and genus of any object just by touching it.” They teamed up after working to solve the murder of Mia’s brother, Dave, who’d been Jack’s partner in the Atlanta police department. That’s about all the back story readers get about the couple; however, their underlying sexual tension and constant bickering—not to mention the appearance of a rival for Mia’s affection—keep their dance interesting. Ultimately, though, the overall lack of character development restricts the novel to surface-level action. This is a plot-driven thriller that offers constant twists—some expected but others unanticipated. Kiernan-Lewis offers enough red herrings to keep readers guessing, as almost all the bit players are potential suspects in the trafficking conspiracy. Are the leads provided by Liz Magnuson, the head of Atlantans Against Modern Slavery, legitimate? Is Trey Bowers from the Atlanta field office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement really a government agent? The final surprise should make fans want a sequel.

The characters are thinly defined in this thriller, but the pace is nonstop.

Pub Date: June 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-5002-2128-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2016

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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