A second from DeFilippi has parallels with his considerably stronger Blood Sugar (1992), but too much in plot flies off with too little in substantive atmosphere or theme to act as ballast. Narrator Jay Tasti opens up with a ramble through plentifully familiar boyhood memories of growing up on Duck Alley, Long Island. Recalling the happy summertime of his youth in the “50s, Tasti summons Coke bottles, friendly drunks, fussy moms, baseball games on the radio and harmless pranks. Back then, see, Tasti was real tight with Albert Niklozak, and, man, did they do some crazy stuff. Well. Then comes the draft. Albert gets sent to Nam (and strangely never speaks of it), while Tasti stays comfy with a stateside role. Tasti muffles his mixed feelings, becomes a high-school teacher, and marries. Albert becomes a small-time hood dealing in fenced goods and prostitutes. As for his life in education, Tasti recalls, oh, if there only hadn’t been Arlynn Svenson . . . . Arlynn, the cartoonishly drawn high-school sex siren with a troubled mind, finds teacher Tasti on the beach during a field trip, bares her breasts to him, and actually says “jiggle, jiggle.” Though Tasti takes a hundred pages to not touch her breasts, Arlynn, while literally flopping around in the hall and driving everyone nuts, claims Tasti got her pregnant. Blow her off? Advise therapy? Nah, do the sensible thing, and get Albert to silence her. It seems Albert does what he’s asked, gets caught, sent to jail, then killed in a knife fight. Only after all that does Tasti discover that Albert never murdered the girl—but held his tongue for the honor of friendship, which Tasti grieves to have forgotten. The depth of Tasti’s spiritual agony is doubtless meant to be profound, but the story just doesn—t make it real, with the result that the profound and the inane are at loggerheads.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-57962-024-8

Page Count: 238

Publisher: Permanent Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...


Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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