Briskly written soap with down-to-earth types, mostly without the lachrymose contrivances of Hannah’s previous titles...

BETWEEN SISTERS

Sisters in and out of love.

Meghann Dontess is a high-powered matrimonial lawyer in Seattle who prefers sex with strangers to emotional intimacy: a strategy bound to backfire sooner or later, warns her tough-talking shrink. It’s advice Meghann decides to ignore, along with the memories of her difficult childhood, neglectful mother, and younger sister. Though she managed to reunite Claire with Sam Cavenaugh (her father but not Meghann’s) when her mother abandoned both girls long ago, Meghann still feels guilty that her sister’s life doesn’t measure up, at least on her terms. Never married, Claire ekes out a living running a country campground with her dad and is raising her six-year-old daughter on her own. When she falls in love for the first time with an up-and-coming country musician, Meghann is appalled: Bobby Austin is a three-time loser at marriage—how on earth can Claire be so blind? Bobby’s blunt explanation doesn’t exactly satisfy the concerned big sister, who busies herself planning Claire’s dream wedding anyway. And, to relieve the stress, she beds various guys she picks up in bars, including Dr. Joe Wyatt, a neurosurgeon turned homeless drifter after the demise of his beloved wife Diane (whom he euthanized). When Claire’s awful headache turns out to be a kind of brain tumor known among neurologists as a “terminator,” Joe rallies. Turns out that Claire had befriended his wife on her deathbed, and now in turn he must try to save her. Is it too late? Will Meghann find true love at last?

Briskly written soap with down-to-earth types, mostly without the lachrymose contrivances of Hannah’s previous titles (Distant Shores, 2002, etc.). Kudos for skipping the snifflefest this time around.

Pub Date: May 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-345-45073-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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