And that’s all, folks. A pleasant trifle but nothing more: the third from the author of Step-Ball-Change (2002) and Julie...

EAT CAKE

Imagine you’re inside a cake. . . .

That’s what beleaguered housewife Ruth Nash does whenever life gets to be too much for her. She can even catch a glimpse of the outside world from the open center of her favorite hideaway: a moist, rich Bundt cake. And these days, she’s quite the baker (recipes included) now that her son Wyatt has left her with every pair of sneakers he ever owned and is off to college. His younger sister Camille, meanwhile, sighs a lot and makes snotty remarks. A crisis looms: their dad, Sam, just lost his job as a hospital administrator and has few prospects of getting another, though he’s not going to let that get him down. He’s a family man who puts up with a mother-in-law in permanent residence and goes so far as to drive to Iowa to pick up Ruth’s ne’er-do-well father, an itinerant pianist who just smashed both wrists. Ruth’s parents divorced many years before and still can’t stop bickering: her mother, Hollis, is outraged that Ruth actually cuts her father’s revolting yellow toenails when Guy can’t do it himself and that Sam must help the old man pee (a task Hollis takes on, explaining grimly that she has seen that particular organ before). Now that he’s unemployed, will Sam realize his cherished dream of becoming a boat-builder? Guy points out that it may be Sam’s turn at last, and Ruth gets a brilliant idea: make money by selling her wonderful cakes. And so she does, with a little help from Camille, who has a flair for marketing, and a friend of Sam’s who designs gorgeous gift boxes.

And that’s all, folks. A pleasant trifle but nothing more: the third from the author of Step-Ball-Change (2002) and Julie and Romeo (2000).

Pub Date: May 27, 2003

ISBN: 0-609-61004-X

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Shaye Areheart/Harmony

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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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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