An inviting, if uneven, story of a modern-day gentleman thief.

THE CURSE OF VAN GOGH

Debut author Hoppe offers a crime thriller about the difficulty of stealing famous art.

Tyler Sears is an art thief who’s had the bad luck of being caught more than once. After a stint in jail, “courtesy of the botched [Museo del] Prado job,” he’s decided to go straight. He attempts to live a life of normalcy as a bartender in New York City, and there, he deals with both romantic and familial difficulties. But when he’s summoned to the foreboding office of a wealthy Japanese businessman, his fears of being forced back into crime are realized. Tyler must steal a dozen well-known paintings from an upcoming art show in Washington, D.C.; the businessman is threatening his family, so he can’t fail. Relying on connections to the criminal underground and his cunning talent for planning, Tyler embarks on his mission but fears the task ahead. Added into the mix is the lovely Lucy, a girl Tyler jilted after a rendezvous in Paris but whom he can’t seem to forget. Can Tyler steal the paintings without being caught, killed or getting his heart broken? The story makes use of a range of well-scripted geographical details, jumping between New York City and Washington with frequent stops in between—including a brief foray in the Southwest—and the author shows a deep awareness of these locations. In Hoppe’s hands, Tyler stakes his claim as a cool gentleman thief: He’s a lover of fine art, liked by just about everyone he meets and never one to turn down a joint from a pretty lady. However, some readers may not have a high tolerance for an ARTnews-reading ex-felon bartender. His antagonists also tend to lack subtlety; Tyler’s employer, for example, seems strangely ambivalent about his welfare, an attitude which ultimately proves counterproductive.

An inviting, if uneven, story of a modern-day gentleman thief.           

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-940716-15-2

Page Count: -

Publisher: SparkPress

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2014

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A unique story of transcendent love.

LAYLA

An aimless young musician meets the girl of his dreams only to have his newfound happiness threatened by several inexplicable—and possibly supernatural—events.

The story opens as Leeds Gabriel meets with a detective while his girlfriend, Layla, is restrained in a room one flight above them. Through the interview, readers learn that Leeds was wasting both his time and his musical talent playing backup for a small-town wedding troupe called Garrett’s Band when he spied Layla dancing her heart out to their mediocre music at a wedding. When Leeds approaches Layla, their connection is both instant and intense. A blissful courtship follows, but then Leeds makes the mistake of posting a picture of himself with Layla on social media. A former girlfriend–turned-stalker wastes no time in finding and attacking Layla. Layla spends months recovering in a hospital, and it seems the girl Leeds fell for might be forever changed. Gone is her special spark, her quirkiness, and the connection that had entranced Leeds months before. In a last-ditch effort to save their relationship, he brings Layla back to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. When they get there, though, Leeds meets Willow, another guest, and finds himself drawn to her in spite of himself. As events unfold, it becomes clear that Willow will either be the key to saving Leeds’ relationship with Layla or the catalyst that finally extinguishes the last shreds of their epic romance. Told entirely from Leeds’ point of view, the author’s first foray into paranormal romance does not disappoint. Peppered with elements of mystery, psychological thriller, and contemporary romance, the novel explores questions about how quickly true love can develop, as well as the conflicts that can imperil even the strongest connections. Despite a limited cast of characters and very few setting changes, the narrative manages to remain both fast-paced and engaging. The conclusion leaves a few too many loose ends, but the chemistry between the characters and unexpected twists throughout make for a satisfying read.

A unique story of transcendent love.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0017-8

Page Count: 301

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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Delightfully readable fiction, but the mystery disappoints.

THE IT GIRL

Ten years after having discovered her Oxford roommate’s dead body in front of the fireplace in their room, a young woman struggles with the realization that she may have helped send the wrong man to prison.

Hannah Jones arrives at Oxford hardly believing that she’s been accepted into this haven of learning and wealth. Sharing a picturesque set of rooms with the flamboyant and beautiful April Clarke-Cliveden, she divides her time between rigorous studying and energetic socializing with Emily Lippmana, Ryan Coates, Hugh Bland, and Will de Chastaigne, with whom she shares an attraction even though he's April’s boyfriend. It’s a good life except for the increasingly creepy interactions she has with John Neville, one of the porters. When Hannah finds April dead one night just after she’s seen Neville coming down the stairs from their rooms, it’s her testimony that puts him in jail. Ware divides the novel into alternating “before” and “after” chapters, with the narrative of Hannah’s college experience unfolding parallel to the events of her life nearly a decade later, when she’s married to Will and pregnant with their first child. Then Neville dies in prison and Hannah hears from a reporter who thinks he might actually have been innocent. Hannah begins to wonder herself, and she plunges back into the past to see if she can figure out what really happened that night. As usual with Ware, the novel is well crafted—the setting, characters, and dialogue are all engaging—but it lacks the author's signature sense of urgent and imminent threat. The novel unfolds smoothly, providing a few twists and turns, as the reader might expect, but not really delivering any true suspense. It also lacks the contrast between a luxurious background and the characters’ fears that Ware has often played to great effect. She does offer a deeper dive into the trauma of the survivors than she usually does, but this isn't the breathless page-turner one has come to expect from Ware.

Delightfully readable fiction, but the mystery disappoints.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-9821-5526-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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