An easy, trope-y romance that feels original and entirely winsome.

FOUR WEEKS OF SCANDAL

From the Hazards of Dukes series , Vol. 5

A bargain, a fake engagement, gambling, and mythology are combined in the fifth Hazards of Dukes romance.

Octavia Holton, part owner of a gambling house in London, has a debt to pay, so when she learns her estranged father has died, she travels from London to the countryside to sell his house. She and her sister, Ivy, left years ago after their father nearly gambled them away as future brides. Despite this, Octavia is certain he would have left them the house, so she’s shocked when she arrives and finds a naked man in the pond. Gabriel Fallon, a scholar of Greek mythology, claims he is the rightful owner of the house because her father lost it to his father in a card game or a roll of the dice. Gabriel agrees to give Octavia one month to search for any documents that might prove otherwise. In the meantime, the pair will live in, and fix up, the long-neglected house, pretending they are engaged. A household staff of locals moves in, and soon they all start to feel like a family. Octavia and Gabriel know they should see each other as opponents, but their attraction is undeniable from the start. As the bargain’s end draws near, neither wants to let go. The way mythology, particularly the tale of Hades and Persephone, is woven into this sizzling romance is delightful, and the characters are captivating. Octavia is like a breath of fresh air. She’s spontaneous, outspoken, and sometimes selfish. She grows throughout the novel, but Gabriel loves her for exactly who she is right from the beginning. There is respect and admiration throughout, even when the two disagree and frustrate each other. The conflict keeping them apart—not seeing how they could fit their lives together—feels realistic for these adeptly crafted characters.

An easy, trope-y romance that feels original and entirely winsome.

Pub Date: June 28, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-302312-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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The World War II Hollywood setting is colorful, but it’s just a B picture.

MERCURY PICTURES PRESENTS

An ambitious young Italian woman makes her way among the émigrés of 1930s and ’40s Hollywood.

Maria Lagana has come to Los Angeles after her father is sentenced to confino—internal exile—for his anti-fascist advocacy in Mussolini’s Italy. Living with her mother in the Italian American neighborhood of Lincoln Heights—also home to a trio of no-nonsense great-aunts forever dressed in black—Maria finds work as a typist at Mercury Pictures International, working in the office of studio head Artie Feldman, a fast-talking showman with a collection of toupées for every occasion. In time, the letters from her father stop, and Maria becomes an associate producer, Artie’s trusted right hand, as well as the secret lover of Eddie Lu, a Chinese American actor relegated to roles as Japanese villains. When a young Italian immigrant turns up at her door introducing himself as Vincent Cortese, Maria’s past—and the mystery of what happened to her father—crashes into her present. Like the author’s earlier novels, the award-winning A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (2013) and The Tsar of Love and Techno (2015), this one builds a discrete world and shows how its denizens are shaped—often warped—by circumstance. But the Hollywood setting feels overfamiliar and the characters curiously uninvolving. While the prose frequently sings, there are also ripely overwritten passages: At a party, the “thunking heels of lindy-hopping couples dimpled the boozy air”; fireworks are described as a “molten asterisk in the heavens to which the body on the ground is a footnote.”

The World War II Hollywood setting is colorful, but it’s just a B picture.

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-451-49520-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Hogarth

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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Ford raises fascinating questions, but a rushed ending too neatly ties up the answers in an unconvincing, sentimental bow.

THE MANY DAUGHTERS OF AFONG MOY

Covering 250 years, Ford’s new novel traces the way states of consciousness involving extreme moments of pain or joy interconnect seven generations of Chinese women.

Embedded images—airplanes, ships, waves—and the occasional ghostly vision highlight how these women’s lives reverberate as the focus moves back and forth in time. In 1942 China, Faye Moy, a nurse in her 50s who’s working with American forces, feels an eerie connection to a dying young pilot in whose pocket she finds a newspaper photograph of herself as a teenager and a note in her own handwriting that says, “FIND ME.” Finding oneself and/or one’s soul mate becomes the throughline of the book. Faye’s great-grandmother Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman in America, dies in childbirth after a short career being exhibited as a curiosity in the 1830s. Faye’s mother, Lai King (Afong’s granddaughter), sails to Canton after her parents’ deaths in San Francisco’s Chinatown fire of 1892. Onboard ship she bonds with a young White boy, also an orphan, and nurses him when contagion strikes. When Faye is 14, she has an illegitimate daughter who is adopted and raised in England. Presumably that girl is Zoe Moy, who, in 1927, attends the famously progressive Summerhill School, where a disastrous social experiment in fascism destroys her relationship with a beloved poetry teacher. In 2014, Zoe’s emotionally fragile granddaughter, Greta, loses both her skyrocketing tech career and the love of her life at the hands of an evil capitalist. While several earlier Moys receive aid and guidance from Buddhist monks, Greta’s troubled poet daughter, Dorothy, turns to both Buddhism and radical scientific treatment to uncover and understand how past crises, emotional, physical, and spiritual, are destabilizing her current life in 2045. Expect long treatises on anamnesis, quantum biology, and reincarnation before traveling with Dorothy’s adult daughter in 2086.

Ford raises fascinating questions, but a rushed ending too neatly ties up the answers in an unconvincing, sentimental bow.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-9821-5821-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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