THE CONSUL'S WIFE

Powerfully despairing, Graham Greenelike tale of romance and alienation in the blasted African bush, from our foremost chronicler of Washington's faceless bureaucracy and the lives it so blithely consumes (Last Train from Berlin, 1994, etc.). As the Vietnam War makes a mess of US foreign policy in Southeast Asia, footloose American foreign-service careerist Hugh Mathews finds himself transferred from Eden-like, pre-invasion Lebanon to a grim, gloomy diplomatic compound in the former Belgian Congo. A bachelor with little patience for political frippery (he likens diplomacy to ``an old whore trying to remember when she'd been a virgin''), he's resigned to terminal futility—until he falls for Blakely Ogden, the bronzed, blond wife of the embassy's insipid consul, Jeffrey. Childless and stifled by a loveless marriage, Blakely confides her fascination with tribal masks and other artifacts of African culture. Hoping to experience something more than the sublime ennui of diplomatic protocol, and perhaps discover some interesting antiques for his friend, Mathews begins to run pointless errands in the blighted, inhospitable countryside with fellow loner Ken McAuliffe, a burned-out idealist who ``like most incorrigibly honest people, had no sense of the mystery in himself.'' After a passionate affair with Mathews, Blakely flees her lover and her husband, leaving no forwarding address. Then McAuliffe quits the service and is blown to bits by a land mine while helping refugees escape, and Mathews finds himself banished for his misdemeanors- -among them the discovery that his local drinking buddies are outlaw revolutionaries. He ends up back in Washington with a dull desk job. Overwhelmed by a life of so much futility, Mathews is suddenly reborn when he stumbles on Blakely again. Together, the two finally experience what passes for contentment in the rustic Virginia woods. Thick with bilious resentment and impotent rage: a trenchant, eloquently crafted drama of lost souls who find salvation where they least expect it.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-8050-4425-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1997

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Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

MAYBE SOMEDAY

Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson. 

Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty. 

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5316-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

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HOMEPORT

To her usual mix of love, mystery, and passion, Roberts (Sanctuary, 1997, etc.)—author of 115 romancers in some 17 years—adds Renaissance art and a decidedly Medici-like family: the Joneses of Maine. Dr. Miranda Jones, nearly six feet with flaming red hair and a glacial reserve, is an archeometrist who specializes in the analyzing and dating of Renaissance bronze sculpture. Miranda hopes to secure a world-class reputation for herself by authenticating a 15th-century statue of the Dark Lady, one of the mistresses of Lorenzo the Magnificent, as the undiscovered work of a young Michelangelo. Miranda's mother, Dr. Elizabeth Standford-Jones, the emotionally remote director of the Standjo art lab in Florence, has summoned her daughter from the family's Victorian cliffside home in Jones Point, Maine, to test the statue. Meanwhile, Miranda's father, equally remote, is an archaeologist who spends more time at his digs than at home. In fact, no one in the Jones family has made a successful run at marriage, a failure that Miranda and her alcoholic brother Andrew call the Jones curse. As for the statue, when it's discovered to be a fake, Miranda sets out to prove that someone stole the original. In this she's helped by gorgeous art thief Ryan Boldari (half-Italian, half-Irish), who's come to Jones Point to steal yet another bronze, which also turns out to be a forgery. Ryan's plan had been to use Miranda as a pawn, but now, naturally, he finds himself falling hard for her. While the two search for bronzes, a standard-issue romance-novel psychotic is stalking them. Most readers will twig to the killer's identity: Here, as always, Roberts's sexual tension is more compelling than her suspense. Perhaps it's time to take a sabbatical from the pink sweatshop and turn her considerable wit and narrative skills to a more original piece of work.

Pub Date: March 23, 1998

ISBN: 0-399-14387-4

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1998

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