Title: Women in Bed: Nine Stories
Author: Jessica Keener. She is also the author of the novel Night Swim.
Genre: Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Readers: Lawyer Rochelle, nonprofit director Kimberly, at-home parents Marina, Dana and Megan V.
Summary: This collection of nine stories thematically addresses variations of love – love of self, family, and sexual relationships – from loneliness and isolation, desperation and rejection – to need and passion, forgiveness and, finally, to love found.
Our Take: We like Keener’s style, even if we don’t always like the open endings of her stories.
Author: Katy Evans. This is the first novel in her Real series, which were originally self-published and are now being distributed by Gallery Books.
Readers: Editor Lori, bookkeeper Tykira, small business owner Samantha, professor Michal and at-home parent Dana.
Summary: Remington Tate has a bad-boy rep in and out of the ring, a granite-hard body, and a raw, animal power that sends his female fans into a frenzy. But from the moment their eyes lock, the only woman he wants is Brooke Dumas. His desire is pure, all-consuming, and REAL.
Hired to keep his perfect body working like a machine, Brooke finally has the lucrative sports therapy job she’s been dreaming of. But as she tours the dangerous underground fighting circuit with Remy and his team, Brooke’s own body becomes alive with the most primal of hungers. If what happens between Brooke and Remy is ever as light as a flirtation, it quickly becomes an erotic obsession for them both, and promises so much more.
But their white-hot lust has a dark side—and when Remy’s deepest secret comes to light and Brooke’s familial duties demand action, will the pair be able to hang on, or will everything that once seemed so real suddenly fade away like an illusion?
Our Take: We wanted a little more spark and a little more flavor out of this bad-boy romance novel that didn’t do enough to break out of its formula.
Author: Kathryn Davis. She is the author of several previous novels, including The Thin Place.
Genre: Literary Fiction, Fantasy
Readers: Professors Michal and JoLee, stay-at-home moms Dana and Marina, and teacher Shannon.
Summary: Mary and Eddie are meant for each other—but love is no guarantee, not in these suburbs. Like all children, they exist in an eternal present; time is imminent, and the adults of the street live in their assorted houses like numbers on a clock. Meanwhile, ominous rumors circulate, and the increasing agitation of the neighbors points to a future in which all will be lost. Soon a sorcerer’s car will speed down Mary’s street, and as past and future fold into each other, the resonant parenthesis of her girlhood will close forever. Beyond is adulthood, a world of robots and sorcerers, slaves and masters, bodies without souls.
Our Take: Our readers all agree that this unusual book is mystifying, strange and otherworldly. Some loved it but others didn’t.
Title: The Girl You Left Behind
Author: Jojo Moyes. She is the author of several novels, including the recent bestseller Me Before You.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Readers: Communications director Barbara, editor Kristina, attorney Elizabeth H., stay-at-home mom Dana and victim advocate MJ.
Summary: In 1916 French artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his wife Sophie to fight at the Front. When her town falls into German hands, his portrait of Sophie stirs the heart of the local Kommandant and causes her to risk everything – her family, reputation and life – in the hope of seeing her true love one last time.
Nearly a century later and Sophie’s portrait is given to Liv by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. Its beauty speaks of their short life together, but when the painting’s dark and passion-torn history is revealed, Liv discovers that the first spark of love she has felt since she lost him is threatened…
Our Take: This two-time-frame novel of love and loss enraptured our readers. Elizabeth H., our one reviewer with a few qualms, found the characters a bit too perfect but still gave it a positive grade.
Title: Approaching the Speed of Light
Author: Victoria Lustbader. She is the author of two previous novels, including Stone Creek. Before becoming a writer she was an editor of science-fiction novels.
Genre: Commercial Fiction
Readers: Professor Michal, prosecutor Rochelle, project manager Andrea and stay-at-home moms Dana and Megan V.
Summary: Jody is a likable young man getting by in New York City at the turn of the millennium. On the surface, he seems to have it together, with friends, family, a decent job, and a steady string of girlfriends. But a secret history has left Jody scarred and broken inside, lacking faith in the future or himself. Like the ceaseless pull of a black hole, his buried secrets hold him back, defining him, until his trajectory crosses the path of three very different women, who, in their own ways, hold out the tantalizing possibility of healing, connection . . . or self-destruction.
Our Take: A strong and resonant novel with complex characters that explores real emotional depth. Not a terribly light or happy read, but most of our readers found it worth their while.