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Four women in their golden years—a mother of a grown daughter and her lifelong friends, aka The Godmothers—experience new romantic and professional adventures, finding strength, courage and companionship in their bonds.

This is the newest addition to Michaels’ recent Godmothers series. It follows a group of women in their slightly-past-middle-age years who’ve been friends since childhood. Toots Loudenberry has moved to Charleston, S.C., to make sure her housekeeper, Bernice, isn’t doing any housekeeping—since she nearly died from a massive heart attack and needs to take it easy. Toots’ three longtime friends have also moved in temporarily to help. Toots is blessed with more money than she knows what to do with, which is a good thing, since she’s recently been able to help her friends start innovative businesses that are thriving, which has given them all a chance at new, prosperous lives. And romance is on the horizon for all of them it seems, particularly Toots, who has "the hots" for Bernice's cardiologist. Toots also recently bought the gossip rag her daughter, Abby, has been working for in LA, allowing Abby to take over as editor. Unfortunately, the circumstances that allowed the purchase created some unknown enemies that will come back to haunt Abby and Toots, putting the daughter in danger and showcasing the mother’s feisty, grizzly mama side when something threatens her cub. The premise, storyline and characters show great promise, but getting to the end of the book is a struggle. The older female characters are crass and mean-spirited, so much so that one wonders why they remain friends, except that the author keeps telling us that they are teasing or offers a number of other reasons, via the narrator, that are never actually reflected in characters' dialogue or actions—an enormous weakness that bleeds into every aspect of the book. Information about the present and the past is dumped so awkwardly that even details that should have been interesting are blunted, and the dialogue is too often either unrealistic or a transparent avenue to making sure An Important Piece of Information is delivered. 

Disappointing.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2012

ISBN: 9780-7582-6606-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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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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