Fans of romantic beach reads will find that this book’s charismatic heroine makes it an engrossing page-turner.

Waiting for Ethan

Almost 20 years after a psychic predicted she would marry a man named Ethan, a woman ready to give up on love meets the man of her dreams in Barnes’ debut novel.

Gina’s childhood friend, Neesha Patel, has a grandmother, Ajee, who’s reputed to have a psychic “gift.” She correctly predicted, for example, that Gina would break her arm and take a trip to Italy and that Neesha would move away from their town before the two girls started high school. “Her predictions came true too many times,” as Neesha puts it—except for one, in which Ajee foresaw that Gina would marry a man named Ethan. Gina, now 36, still hasn’t found this Ethan, and she faces pressure from her aging parents, who think that Ajee ruined her life with her prediction. After a blizzard strands Gina in her car, her serendipitous rescue by a man named Ethan Gregory seems to signal the end of her wait. Then she finds out that Ethan comes with some unexpected baggage, and although she’s desperate to live out Ajee’s prophecy and start a family, she thinks that this man might not be the one that the old woman predicted after all. Barnes’ charming protagonist is likable and relatable and well-supported by her two best friends—co-worker Luci Corrigan Chin and Neesha, whom Gina contacts following Ajee’s death even though the two haven’t spoken in almost 20 years. The author weaves these complex friendships into the narrative, giving extra dimension to what might have otherwise been a flat courtship story. She combines elements of romance and suspense as she slowly unravels Gina’s destiny, throwing in the dashing character of Cooper Allen, Gina’s co-worker, to complicate her relationship with Ethan. The novel’s surprising twist gives the story a satisfying conclusion that makes Gina’s struggle to find Mr. Right worth the wait.

Fans of romantic beach reads will find that this book’s charismatic heroine makes it an engrossing page-turner.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61650-789-3

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Lyrical Shine

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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