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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A breezy tale perfect for a day at the beach, this one’s a real winner.

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THE HATING GAME

Lucy Hutton absolutely detests her office mate Joshua Templeman. He’s a pompous, self-important, obnoxious ass. But, she’s got to admit, he is pretty cute.

From the moment they meet, a result of the unwelcome corporate merger between their employers, Lucy and Joshua are at odds. Joshua is assistant to the CEO of what was once Bexley Publishing, a numbers-crunching, foosball-playing frat house–cum-business. Lucy is assistant to the CEO of the now-defunct Gamin Publishing, a Birkenstock-clad, free-flowing commune of literary purists. When the two companies begrudgingly become one, so does the executive suite. Thus begins this hate-at-first-sight romantic comedy. Lucy and Joshua’s daily interactions include the staring game, the mirror game, and the HR game, each played with the intensity of the Hunger Games. Their mutual antipathy grows when a new executive position opens at Bexley-Gamin Publishing and both Lucy's and Joshua’s bosses think their protégés would be the perfect choice. Here the high-stakes game begins. After yet another 60-hour work week, which now includes prepping for upcoming interviews, Lucy logs off of her computer (Password: IHATEJOSHUA4EV@) to head home, but not before her rival hops into the elevator with her. When Joshua hits the emergency button and stops the ride, Lucy is certain her nemesis is going to kill her. Instead, he plants a (completely consensual) kiss on her that awakens something she hadn’t known existed. Debut novelist Thorne delivers something nearly impossible: an entirely predictable plot that is also completely fresh, original, and utterly charming. From the opening page, readers will know the outcome of Lucy and Joshua’s relationship, but what happens in between is magic. From Lucy’s hilarious inner dialogue to Joshua’s sharp retorts, the chemistry between them is irresistibly adorable—and smokin’ hot.

A breezy tale perfect for a day at the beach, this one’s a real winner.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-243959-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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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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