Dated story, pedestrian prose, and the kinky sex is simply silly.

INTERN

The Senator. The Girl. The Wife. The Mother. Portentous chapter titles introduce the players in this ripped-from-yesterday’s-headlines debut, told from several points of view.

Twenty-three-year-old intern April Wayne actually believes that Eric Barry, a philandering senator from California who’s old enough to be her father, will leave his wife of many years just for her. After all, April’s trimmed her pubic hair into a pretty heart and she’s a redhead—Eric loves redheads. That ought to be enough to make a man jettison his political career and dump the clueless Suzanne without a second thought. It’s just April’s tough luck to disappear early in the story, leaving the others to figure it all out. A haphazard investigation of the senator’s extramarital love life doesn’t reveal much at first. Yet April’s loving mother Gloria has a feeling that there’s been foul play, a hunch that’s confirmed by her psychic hippie hairdresser. Tearful press conferences and tough-talking cops can’t get anything beside heartfelt denials from Eric. Suzanne wonders and worries: Is she married to a stranger? Just what does her husband do in D.C. and elsewhere while she’s holding down the fort at home? Surprise, surprise: he fools around. Among his bedfellows is Alfonso Trotter, a bisexual stud who likes to light his armpit hair on fire and bugger Eric when the distinguished senator is thrusting away at his latest redhead. Yes, this family man likes to play dirty and rough. Pouring hot candle wax on nipples is only one of his diversions; erotic asphyxiation is a fun game too, though annoyingly dead interns with inquisitive moms make playing it difficult. If only Gloria would quit snooping around, Eric could take care of his loyal constituency and life would get back to normal. He’s even beginning to believe his own lies until the hippie hairdresser’s nocturnal visions provide the key to April’s disappearance. . . .

Dated story, pedestrian prose, and the kinky sex is simply silly.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2003

ISBN: 1-55166-691-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2002

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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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