For wonderful period details, a tender love story, and frontier humor, this continuing saga is highly recommended.

JOY THAT LONG ENDURES

From the Irish Blessings series , Vol. 2

In this second volume of her Irish Blessings series, novelist Williams (Walls for the Wind, 2016, etc.) focuses on Irish immigrant Devin Cavanaugh and biracial saloonkeeper Dulcinetta Jackson as they make lives for themselves in the Wyoming Territory.

Construction on the Union Pacific has moved on. In fact, the golden spike has finally been hammered in. Devin, raised an orphan and street urchin in New York City, has thus lost his railroad job and now works for a freight outfit out of Bryan City. One of the regular delivery routes for him and mule skinner Caleb Wilson is to South Pass City in gold mining country. One soggy morning, they are forced to take Luther Brandingham III, a young passenger who, they will find out, is Dulcinetta Jackson’s son. Devin is smitten the moment he sets eyes on the comely Dulcie. She owns the freighting business and learned canny business skills from her aunt and mentor, Lou Schering. Seeing Caleb as the grifter and drunkard that he is, she makes Devin the boss, Caleb the underling. A very sore loser, Caleb enlists some Sioux to ambush the next freight run. Almost everything is lost, and Devin barely survives. But Caleb isn’t done. He confronts Dulcie at gunpoint. What happens then shows a Dulcie who is almost preternaturally calm and crafty. Anyway, times are changing, and Devin and Dulcie move to Bryan City to begin a new chapter in their lives. Other characters needing mention are Xiang Ju, Dulcie’s stiff-necked servant, and Ailis Tierney, Devin’s friend from the orphan days, and perhaps we haven’t seen the last of them. Williams writes quite well and is very good at detailing that time and place and making us root for Devin and Dulcinetta. Dulcinetta especially is a marvelous creation, and her confrontation with that fool Caleb is alone worth the price of admission. And the way Luther takes to Devin and vice versa is heartwarming.

For wonderful period details, a tender love story, and frontier humor, this continuing saga is highly recommended.

Pub Date: May 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-987767-26-1

Page Count: 178

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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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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