Standard, appealing fare from Steel.

POWER PLAY

Steel's (Winners, 2013, etc.) latest contemporary romance targets the integrity of corporate executives.

Connecting two powerful CEOs through their children’s romantic involvement, the author uses her signature low-key, easy-to-read style to examine personal and professional morality. Fiona Carson and Marshall Weston have made it to the tops of their games with a lot of sweat equity, and both are respected leaders, but that’s where the similarities end. Fiona is an accomplished divorcée and the mother of two well-balanced college students. She makes accessibility to her son and daughter a priority and rationalizes that she doesn’t have room in her life for a man since her work and her children keep her busy and happy. When Pulitzer Prize winner Logan Smith, an investigative reporter, contacts Fiona for a story he’s working on, she sees him as a good match for her older sister, Jillian. After all, Jillian’s a psychiatrist who’s working on a book about women in power, and both Jillian and Logan believe successful women in the business world conduct themselves very differently from their male counterparts. Marshall seems to exemplify that difference. While Fiona’s a concerned parent and a by-the-book executive who would never compromise her principles, Marshall’s actions reflect his questionable ethics. Married for 27 years to the same woman, he’s been a decent provider to his wife and three children, and on the surface, he appears to achieve a perfect balance between family life and corporate duties. But looks can be deceiving. His eldest son despises him; his daughter’s on a dubious path; and Marshall’s hiding a secret life that threatens to harm the reputation of his company, destroy his marriage and damage others who depend on him. When he’s forced to make an important decision, Marshall’s loyalty to his company and loved ones is tested. 

Standard, appealing fare from Steel.

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-345-53091-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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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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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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