A solid choice when searching for a light, charming, historical happy-ever-after.

TALL, DUKE, AND DANGEROUS

From the Hazards of Dukes series , Vol. 2

A duke and a lady who feel out of place in society find a sense of belonging with each other.

Treated as a servant up until the deaths of her duke father and her cruel stepmother, Ana Maria is conflicted about her new life as a lady. She loves the fancy gowns but loathes all the suitors interested only in her large dowry. She craves independence and purpose. After Nash, Duke of Malvern, helps her out of two dangerous situations, he insists on teaching her self-defense techniques. Even if he is a behemoth who communicates mostly through grunts, Ana Maria desires him. She expects he sees her like a sister because they grew up together, but Nash’s feelings toward Ana Maria are not of the brotherly sort. However, even though he’s looking to marry, she’s too risky of a choice since he actually cares about her. Nash worries that his abusive, philandering father’s penchant for violence was passed down. When their fighting lessons turn physical in a different way, the pair have to decide if they’re willing to open up to each other enough to create something real and lasting. Narrow in scope, this story homes in on its leads and the internal conflicts that initially keep them apart. Although repetitive and unsubtle, the prose is nonetheless quick-paced and often sharp and funny. With a captivating, easy-to-love couple and deliciously hot scenes, this breezy read will entertain, if not totally enchant.

A solid choice when searching for a light, charming, historical happy-ever-after.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-286744-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

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CIRCE

A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch.

“Monsters are a boon for gods. Imagine all the prayers.” So says Circe, a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller’s dazzling second novel. The writer returns to Homer, the wellspring that led her to an Orange Prize for The Song of Achilles (2012). This time, she dips into The Odyssey for the legend of Circe, a nymph who turns Odysseus’ crew of men into pigs. The novel, with its distinctive feminist tang, starts with the sentence: “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse, who had negligible use for their child. It takes banishment to the island Aeaea for Circe to sense her calling as a sorceress: “I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.” This lonely, scorned figure learns herbs and potions, surrounds herself with lions, and, in a heart-stopping chapter, outwits the monster Scylla to propel Daedalus and his boat to safety. She makes lovers of Hermes and then two mortal men. She midwifes the birth of the Minotaur on Crete and performs her own C-section. And as she grows in power, she muses that “not even Odysseus could talk his way past [her] witchcraft. He had talked his way past the witch instead.” Circe’s fascination with mortals becomes the book’s marrow and delivers its thrilling ending. All the while, the supernatural sits intriguingly alongside “the tonic of ordinary things.” A few passages coil toward melodrama, and one inelegant line after a rape seems jarringly modern, but the spell holds fast. Expect Miller’s readership to mushroom like one of Circe’s spells.

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-55634-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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An unexpected treatise on the many forms love and beauty can take, set against the backdrop of Florence.

STILL LIFE

An epic about a family of friends who make the city of Florence their home in the mid-to-late 20th century.

Evelyn Skinner, an art teacher and Englishwoman approaching 64 years of age, meets Ulysses Temper, a 24-year-old private from London, on the side of an Italian road in 1944, while bombs are falling on distant hills. At its core, this slowly unfolding narrative is the story of their friendship, though it is also a story of the creation of a family of friends, transplanted from London to Italy: pub owner Col; pub worker, amateur singer, and eventual mother Peg; pianist Pete; elderly friend Cressy; child Alys; a bright blue parrot, Claude; and ultimately, of course, Evelyn. This story winds and wanders through the years, in the end covering 1901 to 1979, as Ulysses and Cressy establish a successful pensione in Florence, Alys grows up, and Evelyn and the others grow older. This is a slow-paced narrative that unfolds as a love story to Florence and a love story to love—romantic, platonic, familial, parental, friend, community, Sapphic, and gay love are all celebrated. Art history is often mentioned, as are parallels to the pensione in E.M. Forster’s A Room With a View. While this is a book to settle into, the narrative feels almost breathless at times, in part due to the lack of quotation marks around the dialogue, which makes it feel as if the unknown narrator is relating a long story deep into the night.

An unexpected treatise on the many forms love and beauty can take, set against the backdrop of Florence.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-33075-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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