Harsh, intense and sometimes gut-wrenching, Orloff's novel could easily be mistaken for a true-crime story. It's also often extremely funny and observant. Orloff's characters are wonderful, most particularly Ava, who is resilient enough to take a chance on love.

The daughter of an infamous Irish gangster, Ava O'Neil has survived things that most people could never imagine. But her biggest challenge isn't dealing with her sometimes ugly past—though that's still an issue.

A film is being made about her father's life, and Ava falls for Vince Quinn, the actor portraying him. There's no future for them, since Ava can't leave her alcoholic brother or risk having her own darkest secret exposed.

Instead she resigns herself to the life she's used to—until her father dies and everything changes.

(May, 304 pp., $12.95)

Reviewed by: 
Catherine Witmer