Scratch the willing suspension of disbelief. But never mind: this is good fun, and lots of it. And besides, anyone who...

MAKE LOVE THE BRUCE CAMPBELL WAY

A rollicking spoof by B-list actor Campbell, hero of the Evil Dead series, who attempts to rise above his station and wreaks havoc in the bargain.

There is a B-list, and there is the A-list, and never the twain shall meet, especially for the fellow who, like the author, just happens to be named Bruce Campbell, a man who ostensibly romances leading women but really “hoards Victoria’s Secret catalogs” and is otherwise a bit of a nebbish. Bizarrely, as if in an alternate-universe setup from one of the myriad Sci-Fi channel shows on which Campbell can be seen, Mike Nichols requests him to play the role of a wisecracking doorman in his next film, a hip update of Let’s Make Love, with Renée Zellweger and Richard Gere in the place of Marilyn Monroe and Yves Montand. Campbell dutifully appears on location, layers his lines with a hammy backstory of his own concoction and amazes his fellow actors by his very presence. Things get better, and soon Campbell, secret agent of schlock, is running his lines with Richard Gere, coaching Renée’s costume designer and the star herself in B-tricks for accentuating breasts and bottom, and even outing the great cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond (not Sigmund, as Campbell has it) as the filmic force behind long-forgotten embarrassments such as Psycho a Go-Go and Wild and Willing. Enter, as the story unfolds, the likes of Robert Evans and Jack Nicholson (who’s contemplating capping off Chinatown, about water, and The Two Jakes, about oil, with a film about vinegar), and the A-world begins to take on deeper shades of B. The story takes silly twists—well, sillier than what’s come before—as Campbell eludes SWAT team shooters and feds before winding up in the slam, where, “with a little ingenuity and two cartons of Kool Extras, I worked my way up to cleaning executive offices.”

Scratch the willing suspension of disbelief. But never mind: this is good fun, and lots of it. And besides, anyone who allows that Carrot Top’s agent is Satan is all right.

Pub Date: June 13, 2005

ISBN: 0-312-31260-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2005

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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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