Retired jewel thief and gazillionaire Kick Keswick is living the good life in the south of France — whipping up chocolate soufflés, sipping...

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by Marne Davis Kellogg
St. Martin’s, 321 pp., $24.95

Retired jewel thief and gazillionaire Kick Keswick is living the good life in the south of France — whipping up chocolate soufflés, sipping aged Armagnac and tossing dried lavender bouquets onto the fire with her handsome husband Thomas, a former Scotland Yard chief inspector. Their repose is shattered, however, by a revelation: Queen Elizabeth II needs Kick’s help in recovering the theft of some of her finest jewels. Who better to discover them than the most successful jewel thief in history?

It was the Queen’s own trusted footman, her “Rock of Gibraltar,” who has gone over to the dark side, absconding with the royal jewels as he packs her suitcases for a foreign tour. Diamonds as large as charcoal briquettes, priceless emeralds, a five-inch tall diamond and emerald tiara — all missing.

Kick, whose jewel-thief expertise was revealed in two previous Kellogg novels (“Brilliant” and “Priceless”), takes off in her British racing green Jaguar XJ-8 convertible, bearing her Hermès luggage with convenient false bottoms for the stashing of small but exquisitely valuable acquisitions.

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From this point on, her adventures escalate most dramatically; you’ll love the scene where Kick is lacing her own handmade replicas of the Queen’s jewels into her specially designed lacy black strapless corset.

Kellogg’s novels are equal parts “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” Sotheby’s “Important Jewels” auction catalog and some of the more enticing cookbooks of Julia Child. And, of course, a travelogue: “Perfect” sends Kick, usually attired in cashmere and bearing some alluring alias, from one watering hole of the ultra-wealthy to another, with stops in Paris, St. Moritz and a private Swiss resort.

In short, this is just what you need for those last glorious days at the beach, or perhaps a Labor Day weekend sojourn with a glass of iced tea at your elbow. Or, perhaps, as a nod to Kick Keswick, a well-iced vintage champagne.

Reviewed by Melinda Bargreen

“A Mouth Like Yours”
by Daniel Duane
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 189 pp., $22

“A Mouth Like Yours” is a smut-talking, breezy read about a 28-year-old graduate student confronting the choice of the, er, “nice guy” — does he fall for the highly sexed crazy woman who blows hot and cold, or does he go for the nice and highly sexed brilliant scholar who actually likes him?

Harper, the graduate student in question, receives the insightful goods from his male friend Bernie early on: “‘No, it turns out it’s fine,’ Bernie replied enigmatically, while fixing his round brown eyes on mine, ‘to love somebody who loves you back.’ “

Still, Harper remains a neurotic, noncommittal, Bay Area surfer dude who has a tendency to fall for all the wrong women at all the wrong times. When he meets the overdramatic Joan Artois, it’s foregone that they will be talking about anal sex on page 71.

Her counterpoint, or saner counterpart, Shauna, is a graduate-school hotshot about to become a professor. Patient, mature, the kind of person who tells Harper the way he eats a cheeseburger makes her feel like a real woman, Shauna is apparently a keeper. But it’s Joan who is the obsessive focus of Harper’s desires.

Men may have more fun with this book than women, particularly if you are a woman who has waited for a man to get his, er, maturity together and figure out what he wants. Duane is certainly an entertaining writer — his language is punchy, and there’s never a question of being bored, only of rolling your eyes.

“A Mouth Like Yours” is a great book to take to the beach. But don’t expect it to offer the same deep insights as, say, your last breakup therapy session, or even “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

Give this romp the space to be what it is, and move on.

Reviewed by Betsy Aoki