Lightweight romantic farce, often quite funny, from the British author of For Better, For Worse (2001).

BARE NECESSITY

Bad boy bares bum. His girlfriend’s, that is—and it’s a fine sight to see.

Emily Miller (34) was decked out in a teeny-tiny red chiffon Santa suit that left nothing, including her bountiful breasts, to the imagination. No harm in letting her darling Declan O’Donnell, boyfriend of five years, take a snap or two with his new digital camera, was there? And how amusing of him to take a black marker and scribble HO HO HO across her flawless buttocks. She never dreamed that he would post the provocative result online for every lusty lad and wheezing pensioner alive to see. Emily is famous. Too bad the headmaster at the posh school where she teaches has also seen it: the photo has been splashed all over the tabloids, along with a candid shot of her in a tattered blue bathrobe, looking like a council-housing harlot. So she’s fired, and she’s furious. But Declan secretly hopes to make money from the “Saucy Santa” and make it up to Emily somehow, since his dot-com enterprises have all turned out to be dot-bombs. Porn is about the only thing that makes money on the Web these days, so porn it will be. Classy porn. Emily, holed up with flaky girlfriend Cara, has to listen to Cara twitter on about auras and feng shui and other New Age concepts that might help heal her friend’s wounded heart. She even enlists the help of her scruffily handsome colleague, Adam, a photographer for the local Hampstead newspaper that broke the story in the first place. Cara obviously has a crush on Adam—but later, when she happens to get close to the ever-seductive Declan amidst the steam and froth of a hot tub—why, she’s positively blowing bubbles. Then Adam spies Emily across a crowded room and he’s smitten. And it looks as if Emily is smitten right back.

Lightweight romantic farce, often quite funny, from the British author of For Better, For Worse (2001).

Pub Date: May 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-053214-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 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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