Sisterly drama combines with a generous dosing of the supernatural in this intricate adventure for fans of urban fantasy.

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TWIN FLAMES

UNTAPPED SERIES

The second book in Kobasic’s (Vanishing Twin, 2014, etc.) urban fantasy series about conjoined sisters.

Connected from the waist down, Scarlett and Jade are two sisters who don’t always get along. Nevertheless, they do fairly well in a world that will never accept them as normal. Having written a New York Times best-seller about their condition, the sisters live comfortably in Las Vegas, where they maintain a relationship with the famous magician Sebastian Cole, a man who “wasn’t an illusionist, but a true magician.” Rather, Scarlett maintains a relationship with Sebastian; the love between them leaves Jade little to do other than come along for the ride, a position for which she feels no qualms expressing her distaste. If only something could be done. As Scarlett points out, “You couldn’t find a book in some specialty shop that offered tips on how to deal with sharing your first love with your conjoined sister.” Meanwhile, a powerful and ancient group known as Lucifer’s Chosen wants Sebastian’s participation, and they have quite a deal to sweeten the agreement. “Scarlett and Sebastian will be presented with a choice,” says Ebony, a member of the Chosen: “[I]n order to have Scarlett’s soul unbound from Jade, she’ll have to turn to Lucifer.” Could the possibility of uncoupling his true love from her difficult sister be reason enough to join Lucifer’s legions? What would happen to Sebastian’s great magical abilities? Dotted with sexual scenes—“He lifted up my bra, and I pulled him close. His lips suckled my breasts, gently going from one to the other”—as the plot snowballs in complexity, the story takes the concept of conjoined sisters into new and strange places. Though overwrought when describing Sebastian’s ability to put on a Las Vegas show—including his latest creation: a magical ballet he designs with Scarlett—the book nevertheless manages superb pacing and regular excitement. Figures of good and evil continuously plot and pivot, creating a story that goes well beyond boy-meets–conjoined sisters. Readers seeking a love story charged with ancient magic and a remarkably novel physical predicament will not be disappointed.

Sisterly drama combines with a generous dosing of the supernatural in this intricate adventure for fans of urban fantasy.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9881554-4-2

Page Count: -

Publisher: Stone Series Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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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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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

THE RESCUE

High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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