Moving and honest exploration of sex, sin and redemption.

I SAY A LITTLE PRAYER

A gay Atlanta businessman struggles to make peace with his faith and sexuality when his first love unexpectedly reappears.

With a successful greeting-card company, chic apartment and no shortage of handsome male admirers, Chauncey Greer has much to be thankful for. And he shows his gratitude every Sunday by attending services at Abundant Joy, a moderately sized church where he feels accepted, “measured by the love I have in my heart and not the lust I have in my head.” It is during one rousing service that he finds himself haunted by his past, and the singing career he gave up far too soon. As a teenage member of R&B boy band Reunion, Chauncey briefly tasted fame, until his close relationship with bandmate Sweet D tore the group apart. Ready for a comeback, Chauncey is understandably excited when his pastor taps him to sing at a revival headlined by up-and-coming minister and senatorial candidate Bishop Damien Upchurch. His joy turns to dismay when he finds out that the young bishop is none other than Sweet D, all grown up and running on a conservative—and rabidly anti-gay—platform. Chauncey is then torn between outing the hypocritical preacher and keeping his private life private. To add to this stress, Chauncey is menaced by a studly wannabe-be blackmailer and confronted by Damien’s nasty shrew of a wife, Grayson, who wants to make sure that nothing stands in the way of her Election Day plans. Harris’s addictive latest (A Love of My Own, 2003, etc.) manages to capture both the erotic heat and spiritual fervor of Chauncey’s world, as the man is forced to face the choices he has made, and the fact that he has been unable to enjoy a committed relationship since parting with Sweet D. The story ends somewhat quickly with a silly soap opera twist that does little to cloud its inspiring message of spiritual love and inclusion.

Moving and honest exploration of sex, sin and redemption.

Pub Date: May 2, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-51272-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2006

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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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