A psychological novel with so few notes in its chords—so thin—that the reader can’t feel much for anyone in it, woman or boy.

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LOVERBOY

Redel’s first novel (after Where the Road Bottoms Out, stories, 1995) strains long in an extremely narrow swath of the psychological spectrum—with results that belabor the tale remorselessly but just don’t become convincing or moving.

The narrator, a young woman, was raised as a precociously brilliant only child by parents who seemed invariably more involved with one another than they were with her, no matter how hard she strove for their attention. After their death, she is left with enough money so that there’s no need for her to work—though her mother has left her with the advice that she should find a “passion.” And that passion? Well, it becomes getting pregnant—which she finally manages to do after picking up so very many men for one-night stands that it’s fair to say they become a blur. Success comes at last, however, and she gives birth to baby Paul, with whom she becomes intensely, overpoweringly, neurotically in love (the book’s title is one of her plentiful love-names for him). He’s ready for kindergarten as the main action opens, but his mother keeps him at home for schooling, convinced that in keeping him away from regular school she’s “saving [her] son from the ordinary.” Well, maybe: she listens to Beethoven with him, sees van Gogh, explores nature, all true; but she also forbids the use of contractions, since they show “sloppy disrespect for the beauty of each word”—and, one might add, make her sound crazy. And thus things go, her possessiveness all the more manic, neurotic—and then psychotic—as Paul begs and begs to be allowed to go to school. And go to school he does—though mom, by now weirder than ever, has a plan that will make everything turn out just perfectly.

A psychological novel with so few notes in its chords—so thin—that the reader can’t feel much for anyone in it, woman or boy.

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-55597-322-1

Page Count: 222

Publisher: Graywolf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2001

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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

OUTFOX

An FBI agent is determined to catch a man who bilks and murders wealthy women, but the chase goes slowly.

Brown (Tailspin, 2018, etc.) has published 70 bestsellers, and this one employs her usual template of thriller spiked with romance. Its main character, Drex Easton, is an FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer, but for him it’s personal. When he was a boy, his mother left him and his father for another man, Weston Graham. Drex believes Graham murdered her and that he has killed at least seven more women after emptying their bank accounts. Now he thinks he has the clever Graham—current alias Jasper Ford—in his sights, and he’s willing to put his career at risk to catch him. The women Ford targets are wealthy, and his new prey is no exception—except that, uncharacteristically, he has married her. Talia Ford proves to be a complication for Drex, who instantly falls in lust with her even though he’s not at all sure she isn’t her husband's accomplice. Posing as a would-be novelist, Drex moves into an apartment next door to the Fords’ posh home and tries to ingratiate himself, but tensions rise immediately—Jasper is suspicious, and Talia has mixed feelings about Drex's flirtatious behavior. When Talia’s fun-loving friend Elaine Conner turns up dead after a cruise on her yacht and Jasper disappears, Drex and Talia become allies. There are a few action sequences and fewer sex scenes, but the novel’s pace bogs down repeatedly in long, mundane conversations. Drex's two FBI agent sidekicks are more interesting characters than he is; Drex himself is such a caricature of a macho man, so heedless of ethics, and so aggressive toward women that it’s tough to see him as a good guy. Brown adds a couple of implausible twists at the very end that make him seem almost as untrustworthy as Graham.

This thriller about the pursuit of a serial killer suffers from an unpleasant hero and a glacial pace.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7219-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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