A bracing mix of emotionally and intellectually honest fantasy.

AHE'EY

In this romantic tale, a champion of women’s empowerment stumbles on a hidden—and seemingly perfect—society.

Morgan Lua, head and founder of the Hope Foundation, has just arrived in New York City. Advocating for girls’ educational success, she’ll be a star attraction at the Girl’s Speak Out conference. The mayor introduces her to Gabriel Warren, head of the philanthropic group Ange’el and her host in New York. While Morgan is entranced by his gorgeous blue-green eyes, she also finds, in his suite at the Pierre Hotel, “no sign of vanity. Everything about him was practical and simple and yet of great quality and taste.” He invites her to a gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but the evening is interrupted by knife-wielding assailants. Gabriel subdues them, later revealing that he’s with the CIA, assigned to protect her from those aligned with the Men’s Rights Defense group and their speaker and presidential candidate, Walter Zanus. Further attacks lead Gabriel to take his protection of Morgan to the utmost—he brings her home to Ahe’ey, the secret realm from which he and his genetically enhanced brethren hail. In Ahe’ey, Morgan discovers stunning, nature-infused architecture and a functioning matriarchy. Yet the more she learns about Gabriel’s world, the less ideal it becomes. In her invigorating fantasy series opener, Le Fay (Ange’el, 2014) flaunts her progressive heart proudly, as when Morgan says citizens need to get “the best out of every young person regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or aptitude.” Zanus, meanwhile, stands in for the actual 45th president of the U.S. in saying of his “pure daughters” that if “they weren’t” mine, “I’d be dating them.” Le Fay also creates a robust mythology surrounding the four tribes of Ahe’ey: the Ange’el, the Ma’asai, the Yi’ingo, and the Hu’urei. Thirty years ago, civil war resulted in the sequestering of these bloodlines, and men are forbidden to rule. Gabriel realizes, however, that their “demise...started the day we designed an unequal society.” His and Morgan’s love proves transformative, and readers should delight in witnessing its repercussions.

A bracing mix of emotionally and intellectually honest fantasy.

Pub Date: April 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-646-96918-3

Page Count: 696

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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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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