Just in time for a beach read—or a guilty pleasure in a deserted boardroom.

NEVER TOO REAL

Friendship steadies four powerful women, all seeking to support each other through personal and professional trials.

Television personality and advice columnist Rita’s debut novel reads a bit like a multicultural edition of Sex and the City. The four friends, all gorgeous, sassy, and independent, anchor Latina culture in multiple ethnicities: Mexican-American, Venezuelan-American, Puerto Rican, and Dominican–African-American. Each chapter is chock full of enough twists to be an episode, but so much activity leads to a fair amount of burdensome exposition and some awkwardly integrated (“It was six years earlier…”) back stories. One of the few Latinas to grace the small screen, Cat has just been released from her contract, a casualty, in part, of network executives thinking Hispanic equals bilingual. But instead of feeling devastated, Cat has a strange joy bubbling up through her body. Losing her job may be the best thing that’s ever happened to her. The head of her own culturally diverse venture capital company, Magda suffers no fools in her ambitious, aggressive life. Yet when she came out as lesbian years ago, it created fissures in her family that may now be breaking into pieces. Luz, an advertising executive married to a perfect, supportive Chinese-American husband, balances her career and life with her adorable twin girls and toddler son. A surprise from her parents’ past, however, may upset not only her stable family life, but also her own sense of identity. Luckily, the fourth girlfriend, Gabi, is a therapist who helps shift each woman’s perspective from seeing a crisis to seeing an opportunity, no matter the curveball. She may, of course, be missing a few clues in her own life that point toward marital disaster. Brimming with smart dialogue and ricocheting plot twists, Rita’s potentially clichéd tale is actually ripe for a screenplay.

Just in time for a beach read—or a guilty pleasure in a deserted boardroom.

Pub Date: May 31, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4967-0130-5

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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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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