A well-developed romance wrapped in an engaging and fast-paced Western, complete with strong protagonists, colorful...

Desperate Straits

An Irishwoman encounters intrigue and the search for a lost treasure when she moves to the Arizona Territory in this debut novel.

Sarah Ryan is heartbroken after the death of her father. Instead of remaining in Ireland, she intends to move to America, where her sister and brother-in-law, Mary and Ben McAllister, live in the Arizona Territory with their son, Will. Upon arriving in Arizona, she finds her world shattered by another tragic loss—Mary and Ben. They were murdered on their ranch, Hermit’s Rest, leaving their son an orphan. Grief-stricken, she resolves to stay and help Will and the ranch hand, Jeremy, run Hermit’s Rest. When Texas Ranger L.T. McAllister, Ben’s brother, comes to town with a suspect in the murders, the townspeople anticipate a quick resolution to the case; but the arrest draws the ire of the sheriff, Grant Simpson. He is less concerned about maintaining law and order than he is about finding a treasure known as the Lost Adams Diggings. L.T.’s arrival threatens his ironclad grip on the town and his plans to locate the treasure. As Sarah and L.T. settle in to life at Hermit’s Rest, they discover a powerful, mutual attraction, but secrets from his past, and a dangerous enemy, put their lives in danger. Squires’ briskly paced romance crackles with energy thanks to well-drawn characters and settings. Sarah, a sympathetic heroine, discovers a fierce inner strength through helping Will and Jeremy run Hermit’s Rest. She has a strong romantic foil in L.T. Although he declines to discuss some aspects of his past, his rugged appearance and tough demeanor belie a kind heart and honorable sense of justice. They are surrounded by a colorful cast of supporting characters, including Jeremy, a longtime ranch hand at Hermit’s Rest who may hold the key to finding the lost treasure. Squires’ use of historical details bolsters her settings, particularly the depiction of everyday life in the Arizona Territory and the references to the Lost Adams Diggings.

A well-developed romance wrapped in an engaging and fast-paced Western, complete with strong protagonists, colorful settings, and superb historical details.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63355-755-0

Page Count: 338

Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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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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