RIVERS OF GOLD

By the author of Turn of the Dice (1990), a more appealing period adventure. Again, it's Woman-Against-the-Odds—here amid killer winds and weather and dirty deeds in gold rush days on the Alaskan/Canadian frontier. English housemaid Amity Jones, 19, not taken with the prospect of marriage to an aging butcher, arranges to participate in a proxy marriage across the seas to 43-year-old Samuel York, who owns, he says, many acres up Yukon way. He does indeed—but the acres are reached from a far northern outpost by a trek (in the thaw) that includes a river-run and a hands-and-knees creep up a mountainside. Outside a snug if crude cabin, Amity meets her husband, who turns out to be a hard worker and decent but uncommunicative. Their one serious row, after a few years, is about the gold Sam found on his river—Sam won't use it to educate their son because he wants to preserve the land he loves from gold-happy hordes. Off and on, meanwhile, Amity has had the companionship and help of roving prospector Jake, who rescues her from a frozen death (and will always seem to show up in the nick). Then one day, in the wilderness, there will be murder and rape, and a dazed Amity will learn of another—and legal—Mrs. Sam York. There will also be another birth, bleak treks, an unlikely partnership in business, rescues—and, finally, revenge on three killers—before Amity commits herself to true love of a man and a land. Frosty period Yukon ambiance—plus a streak of gold-panning detail—in an athletic frontier entertainment that's got more ``Mush!'' than mush of the lovin' kind.

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 1991

ISBN: 0-312-06453-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1991

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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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