Sex clubs, sadomasochism, and quasi-incestuous relationships fill the pages of this latest scandal-romance featuring a successful novelist and her oft-derailed search for true love, by the author of the paperback Labels. As the wife of young Wall Street hopeful Harry Winton and mother of two, voluptuous Marcella Balducci Winton chafes under the oppression of a lousy sex life (except for an afternoon encounter in a meat locker with her local grocer), and the fact that her desire to become a writer has so far been thwarted. Marcella's life really explodes, however, when she wins a million-dollar contract for her first novel, a steamy romance so hot her editor is forced to seduce her on his office rug. Harry, unable to deal with his wife's newfound power, disappears with the kids, leaving Marcella wealthy, professionally fulfilled, but bereft as a mother. Though her son, Mark, soon returns, daughter Sonia prefers to stick with Harry, who must flee the law as well when his underhanded financial dealings are discovered. Why can't she ever have it all—success, love and happiness—at the same time, Marcella sighs, as she enrolls Mark in music school, goes out on author tours, writes another romance, and visits a local sex club for an occasional mÇnage Ö trois to satisfy her abnormally strong sexual cravings. She's hardly the one to complain. Masochistic Sonia, who grows up to become a Vogue model, will be murdered by her lover before she's 21; Mark, a musical prodigy, will continue sleeping with his mother until he's 18; Harry will die of cancer in a nearby prison; but Marcella will emerge triumphant, her books topping the best-seller lists and a new, spiritually inclined Spanish lover on her arm. Curiously thirtysomething, hard-core romantic fantasy, littered with obnoxious stereotypes (black studs, predatory homosexuals, etc.), but so sexy it's bound to sell.

Pub Date: July 15, 1991

ISBN: 0-553-35326-8

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1991

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


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.


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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