LIE DOWN WITH LIONS

Follett returns once again to his Eye of the Needle triangle-formula—a passionate woman is torn between two lovers who happen to be rival spies—and once again produces only a serviceable, contrived replica of his original blockbuster. This time the sensuous heroine is radical-chic English interpreter Jane Lambert, working in 1981 Paris when she fills in love with American writer Ellis Thaler—only to discover to her horror that he's really a CIA agent! Furious, Jane dumps sexy Ellis (who does truly love her), marrying instead handsome young Dr. Jean-Pierre Debout—who takes her off to Afghanistan, where they'll both provide medical aid to a village of anti-Soviet rebels. Soon after giving birth (native-style) to baby Chantal, however, Jane secretly learns that Jean-Pierre is also an undercover spy. . .for the KGB! In fact, Jean-Pierre's mission—aside from betraying his rebel-comrades on a daily basis—is to set up rebel-leader Masud for KGB assassination. What's poor Jane to do? After all, she still loves J-P—sort of—even if he must be stopped from virtually murdering all their new Afghan friends. Then, of course, old flame Ellis appears: his mission is to arrange an alliance between Masud and the other Afghan-rebel factions—which he manages to do despite attempted sabotage by J-P, who deserts wife and child (temporarily, anyway) for total KGB involvement. So now, inevitably, there's a long, X-rated reunion for disllusioned Jane and lonely Ellis. And, after saving the village from a KGB assault (thanks to a scenic bridge-bombing), Ellis and Jane flee from Afghanistan together, baby in tow—pursued across treacherous mountain trails by KGB helicopters, Afghan back-stabbers, and the increasingly manic, cartoonishly evil Jean-Pierre. As in The Man from St. Petersburg, all the principal characters here must frequently act like idiots in order to keep Follett's synthetic plot-contraption clattering along: Jane's passionate flip-flops are nearly comic; Jean-Pierre's motivation for Communist fanaticism (the persecution of his leftwing father) is never convincing. The narration ranges from solid pulp to Harlequin pap. (The familiarity of Ellis' curly blond hair "tugged at her heartstrings.") Still, despite the creaky plot and pasteboard characterization, Follett does undeniably keep things moving—with medical crises, guerrilla skirmishes, and chase-ordeals galore. And the Afghan-village scenes are agreeably thickened with anthropological details. So this middling effort—less involving than Key to Rebecca, less outlandish than Man from St. Petersburg—is likely to do just as well as its uneven predecessors.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 1985

ISBN: 0451210468

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1985

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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Reid’s tome on married life is as uplifting as it is brutally honest—a must-read for anyone who is in (or hopes to be in) a...

AFTER I DO

An unhappily married couple spends a year apart in Reid’s (Forever, Interrupted, 2013) novel about second chances.

When we meet Lauren, she and her husband, Ryan, are having a meltdown trying to find their car in the parking lot at Dodger Stadium after a game. Through a series of flashbacks, Lauren reveals how the two of them went from being inseparable to being insufferable in each other’s eyes—and in desperate need of a break. Both their courtship and their fights seem so ordinary—they met in college; he doesn’t like Greek food—that the most heartbreaking part of their pending separation is deciding who will get custody of their good-natured dog. It’s not until Ryan moves out that the juicy details emerge. Lauren surreptitiously logs into his email one day, in a fit of missing him, and discovers a bunch of emails to her that he had saved but not sent. Liberated by Ryan’s candor, Lauren saves her replies for him to find, and the two of them read each other’s unfiltered thoughts as they go about their separate lives. Neither character holds anything back, which makes the healing process more complex, and more compelling, than simply getting revenge or getting one’s groove back. Meanwhile, as Lauren spends more time with her family and friends, she explores the example set for her by her parents and learns that there are many ways to be happy. It’s never clear until the final pages whether living alone will bring Lauren and Ryan back together or force them apart forever. But when the year is up, the resolution is neither sappy nor cynical; it’s arrived at after an honest assessment of what each partner can’t live with and can’t live without.

Reid’s tome on married life is as uplifting as it is brutally honest—a must-read for anyone who is in (or hopes to be in) a committed relationship.

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1284-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Washington Square/Pocket

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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