Cover Image: Temper


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Member Reviews

Tantalizing, twisted, and dark—Layne Fargon’s debut novel Temper is without a doubt one of my favorite reads on 2019, and it remains so on a reread a year later.

I remember the first time I read this, and as I was reading on a break at work on my favorite nook on the 67th floor and I could see angry storm clouds brewing over Lake Michigan. There is something sexy and terrifying about a summer storm in Chicago—the steely gray lake, the furious black clouds, and the wind billowing through, inviting you to open your mouth for a moment and just inhale that intoxicating moment. It is truly the setting I envision now as I reflect on Temper. It is the perfect setting, one our leading male Malcolm would find poetic, perfect, and dangerous. Much like how I find this book!

Struggling actress Kira Rascher is looking for her break in the theater scene in Chicago. Her best friend (with benefits) and roommate Spence is a great support system and outlet for her, but she is struggling. When she lands a role starring opposite the enigmatic and dangerous Malcolm Mercer, she knows it is all coming together for her.

Malcolm has quite the reputation with his leading ladies, but he also has an irrefutable reputation for excellence in the Chicago theater scene, running a theater company and occasionally acting with his long-time partner and friend, Joanna Cuyler. Malcom goes to any lengths necessary to push his actors to their full potential. And an open subject like Kira is ready and willing to go to her darkest moments to pull out the performance of a lifetime.

But Joanna sees Kira as a threat. The deeper down the rabbit hole Kira goes, the more dangerous it becomes. And as opening night draws near, Kira is no longer sure if she is the star of the show or the star of the drama unfolding offstage.

Layne Fargo has a way of writing that is positively tantalizing. I found several times while reading that I forgot to breathe I was so invested in the story. This is a dark fantasy of a psychological thriller. It made me feel desperate and raw, and so invested. I couldn’t put this book down!

This is such a unique book, and as a Chicago gal myself I was so loving the setting and that Layne Fargo herself lives here and knows this city so well. There is a reason that Chicago is the inspiration for Gothic City… it is all things dark, beautiful, and mesmerizing. I felt often that the atmosphere of the city on a stormy day like the one I described seeped through Fargo into the pages of this book. I felt like I was living it myself while reading it. Perfection!

Thank you to Layne Fargo and Gallery Books for my copy. Opinions are my own.
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Thrilling and dark and seductive; Layne Fargo clearly has incredible talent. I can't wait to read what she writes next.
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Phsychological thriller about the theater?! Sign me up! This was smart, fun, witty and it felt original! I loved the story, the characters and the style, and the ending?!

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Embarrassing confession of the day: I was a theater kid, a child actor who graced the stage in some of north Atlanta’s most dramatic, if sparsely attended, productions. So I was excited to receive an ARC of Temper and return to the stage in its pages. 
	Layne Fargo clearly knows her way around a theater, and these sections of the book were the most successful for me. Lots of behind-the-scenes nuggets ring true and lend credibility to the setting. Less successful, however, were the depictions of the main characters, particularly the women, Kira and Joanna.
	I know the author didn’t write her own blurbs, but I was put off from the start by the description of the novel as “a razor-sharp page turner about female ambition and what happens when fake violence draws real blood.” Of COURSE we have to trot out the tired old tropes about female ambition, and the book leans into every one of them. 
Kira, the novel’s main character and leading actress, appears in an early scene as Lady Macbeth, who is the literary Patient Zero (not including Eve) of female ambition run amok. Kira attracts the attention of her would-be director and costar Malcolm when she plays Lady Macbeth as a sultry sexpot, who uses her feminine wiles to convince her milquetoast husband to take down King Duncan. Using her sexuality rather than her acting chops pays off for our girl, and she wins the starring role in a two-person show put on by edgy Chicago theater Indifferent Honest and its two co-founders, Malcolm and Joanna. 
Joanna, Malcolm’s longtime partner and roommate, sees Kira as “a threat to her own thwarted artistic ambitions,” so right away, instead of supporting her lead actress and working to make the production a success, Joanna and Kira are set up as combatants, consumed by jealousy, in a needless “competition” (as though only one woman can be successful.) 
The irony is that this stereotypical competitiveness is so needless: in real life, the success of one would naturally yield the success of the other. But then we wouldn’t have this dark tension promised by the book. The fact that neither woman is particularly likable represents yet another annoying trope about ambitious women. 
In spite of these issues, I gave the book 3 out of 5 stars, mainly due to the next-level authenticity of the stage and audition scenes. I would recommend this novel if you are interested in theater and twisty, noir atmospheres (think, Black Swan without the ballet).
Thanks to Gallery/Scout Press and Netgalley for an advance e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Layne Fargo is a great writer. She wrote unlikable characters better than most of her contemporaries in this novel, which is no small feat. 

However, I found the plot predictable and the ending lacked any nuances about the characters or their motivations. What really prevented me from liking this book was my inability to buy into the supposed power of Malcolm's charisma. There wasn’t enough time spent developing him as a character or how he managed to achieve his impact on other characters, making it unbelievable for me.
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Oh how I wanted to love this book. It was compared to two of my favorite books, Luckiest Girl Alive and The Lying Game. Temper didn’t grab me initially, but I stuck with it. I think one of the main problems for me was that I just didn’t like any of the characters, and they were all self-absorbed. I kept hoping I’d have the same reaction to Temper as I did for Social Creature, which I didn’t like until about 100 pages. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen here. I ended up DNFing.
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Temper is my first book to read by Layne Fargo. I will definitely be reading more!   I loved the different viewpoints given and didn’t know how the story would end.
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Temper is, hands down, one of the best books of 2019. It's dark, it's different, and it dares to take chances and pulls them off spectacularly.

Temper is about an actress, a playwright, a theater director, and a fight coordinator. Their interconnected 
(and increasingly complicated) relationships as they audition for, organize, and stage a nee play, Temper, is fascinating--both chilling and utterly compelling. Temper ask questions about trust, about friendship, about sex, about love, about honesty, about how we construct ourselves and about how we decide what parts we want to play and what happens when we don't want to play them anymore.

The ending is brilliant. While the book is outstanding, the ending is what propelled this far up the list of my best of 2019 reads. Yes, Temper is different, but it's different in the best way and the most rewarding way. Definitely do yourself a favor and read this! Very highly recommended.
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“Temper” was a pretty solid debut. I did find it a little hard to get into . It took a little while for the plot to build. It was predictable at times and the characters were one dimensional. I thought about putting it down and DNFing it. However! Once the plot got going and things started to fall into place, I found myself waiting to see what was going to happen. It ended up being a dark and edgy read. 

I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Temper by Layne Fargo was about a woman named Kira Rascher who finally lands the role of a lifetime after years of struggling. She must work with Malcolm Mercer, director and cofounder, Joanna Cuyler.  Joanna is threatened by Kira and has secrets to protect. Malcolm has demons to contend with as well.  The plot of this book was very light. I did not enjoy the characters as they were constantly arguing with each other. The sexual drama did not add to the book. This was not for me. Thank you to Net Galley for allowing me to review an advanced reader’s copy.
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I started this and ended up purchasing the hardcover. Wow. Loved the pacing and the alternating points of view. I didn't know who or what was coming. More like this. Wonderful read and have sold many copies to my customers at the store. Can't recommend it highly enough.
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Kira Rascher is extremely ambitious. She will stop at nothing to get a role on a play named Temper. This would be the role of a lifetime, and it will require her to work with one of the most difficult men in the industry, Malcolm Mercer. He is a director who takes whatever he wants from his performers. Kira is more than aware of Malcolm's reputation, but it doesn't deter her in any way.

Malcolm's theater co-founder, Joanna Cuyler can spot trouble a mile away when it comes to Kira's audition for the play. She is Malcolm's partner in a romantic sense, even though she knows what he does with his actresses. Even so, Joanna is really disturbed by Kira's presence.

Malcolm, Kira and Joanna all have dangerous secrets. These very secrets could indeed affect the play, but more so, their lives. Their desires are base, through and through, and if it takes violence to get what each of them want, well, so be it.

I kind of love it when I read a story where I just about despise everyone. Kudos to Layne Fargo to created such unlikable characters, whether they are primary or secondary. Despite my ire, I have to admit to finding this story enthralling. After all, watching people self-destruct, even when they strive to see others fail, is weirdly entertaining.

I cannot wait to see what this author has on tap next. She wrote a fantastic psychological thriller and I am ecstatic that this debut author could keep me focused from beginning to end. She has an upcoming read in 2020, Learn Her Wrath. I imagine it will be another terrific read.

Many thanks to Gallery and to NetGalley for this ARC to review in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Kira is a struggling actress who receives an opportunity to perform in a small theater production with talented and intense actor/director Malcolm Mercer, much to the chagrin of his business partner, Joanna. Malcolm is known for pushing his actor's to their limits, both physically and emotionally, and Kira is up for the challenge. Their relationship escalates quickly, taking the reader along for the ride.

The book alternates perspectives between Kira and Joanna, whose characters are well fleshed out and believable (though not especially likable, so if that's a necessary protagonist trait for you, skip this read). They're complicated women with complicated lives, and I liked getting to know them. On the other hand, Malcolm's character seemed a little shallow to me, and perhaps that's because we don't get inside his head. His edgy darkness feels, at times, stereotypical, if not a bit more extreme than your average controlling theater director character.

The alternating POVs keep what could be a slow story moving quickly, bringing the reader to a satisfyingly intense conclusion.
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Unfortunately, I was not the right audience for this book. I just could not get into the story and I didn't really like any of the characters.  I found them all selfish and quite disturbing in their actions. This book had such a great potential with all the mind games and psychological manipulations going on between the characters, however the plot was predictable for me. A lot of drama, violence, anger, egocentric behavior, and sexual tension in this psychological (thriller??) drama which left me feeling icky and quite disturbed. 

Thank you Netgalley and Gallery Books for giving me an opportunity to read an ARC copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Temper tells the story of Kira, a Chicago theater actor who has finally be cast as the lead in a 2-person play called Temper. Joanne and Mal own the playhouse that is putting on the show and Mal is also starring in with Kira. Mal is known to drive his actors to the brink of sanity in order to get the perfect performance. Kira is willing to go to the brink to make it happen. Other than that, it is difficult to give a lot of details to the plot. This was giving me heavy Black Swan vibes only with actors in leu of ballerinas. The plot wasn't fantastic, the ending pretty obvious, but the writing had me there the entire time, right up until that very last scene. Temper was different and memorable.  

*Gender bending roles, sexuality, violence, etc etc. 

Instagram post July 2019.
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Rage becomes her. Layne Fargo's debut, TEMPER, spins familiar archetypes and scenarios into a taut, relentless tale pitting ambition against manipulation. With a controlling and charismatic theater director, his professional partner and enabler, and an ambitious young actress, you can see what we're building toward early on, but the question was how we’d get there. Malcolm may be the center of Joanna and Kira's universes, but the story is singularly theirs. 

TEMPER is a darkly gleeful exploration of power, manipulation, sex, and art. Theater nerds will love the behind the scenes detail and drama. I just have one word for it: delicious.
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Temper is a master class in milieu. The ambiance that Layne Fargo throws the reader into is so dark, disturbing, and enigmatic it feels as though one has been sucked into vortex from which there is no escape. The less you know, the better. This will be a polarizing read, but there is no doubt that it will have readers talking.
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Wow. I read Temper in one sitting and am left a little breathless by the ending. The plot centers around a play also called Temper that is going to be performed in Chicago. It’s a small play - only 2 characters in the production and minimal props/scenery.

Reading this book felt a lot like watching that type of intimate, small theater play as well. It really makes you question - how far could you be pushed to go? How would you react if someone was pushing all your buttons?

This is not a feel good read. I didn’t like any of the characters at all - but was still compelled to keep reading and see what they would do next. And then that ending. I wish this had been a play - and I could walk out into the real world with my companions and discuss what we just saw. 

Thank you very much to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance reading copy.
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Temper has an affecting tone and atmosphere that borders on erotic menace. It was compelling in an unexplainable way that kept me engaged even though I wouldn't consider it action-packed.
On the other hand, I feel like I might have missed something after finishing. I can't quite put my finger on Kira's motivations for her actions at the climax of the book. Given the animosity between all of the characters, I was taken aback by the identity of the actual malefactor and that of the actual victim. There were more contentious feelings between other pairs within the story. On the bright side, that means the ending took me by surprise and I can't honestly come up with a better alternative.
This book will likely draw the biggest audience among readers who value tone and characterization though, as a reader attracted to a well-constructed plot, I feel a lack of resolution and an excess of ambiguity.
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Received a digital ARC of this book via NetGalley.

I’m unsure how I feel about this book. I didn’t really care for it but I couldn’t stop reading it either. The beginning starts off okay more like a drama. I can see some similarities to Jessica Knoll’s The Luckiest Girl Alive—drawn out narrative before it reaches the meat of the story. Kept waiting for some sort of major climactic moment. Still don’t know how I really feel about this one.
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