A sitcom praying hard for the leap to romantic comedy.

LOVE AND OTHER RECREATIONAL SPORTS

Standard love story exploring standard love in a generic New York City.

Jack’s a wannabe writer with a true calling as a banker, Sarah’s a musician who sunlights as a lawyer. The two meet at a mutual friend’s wedding that’s exactly the wrong balm for Jack, who is still smarting from Kim, his last break-up, and lamenting the dismal New York City dating scene. The two don’t hook up then, but they miraculously encounter one another at a birthday party a week later. Still, fateful or not, it will take a good bit of accidental hard-to-get and a number of discussions full of quasi-love-wisdom among lonely, uninspired, forgettable minor characters before Jack and Sarah become the center of each other’s universes. And even then they’ll have to get past little things like Jack’s insistence that hundred year-old paintings of nudes are essentially like the Playboy magazine of the 19th-century. A dinner date is in the offing, but what will happen when the chocolate-haired Kim returns to the scene of the crime via a chance encounter that starts as an argument on the B-line and winds up in a bedroom? Will Kim find a way to intrude on the pending date? How will Sarah react—after all, she’s a woman with options. This isn’t even Moonstruck, but “There is a light that hovers over Manhattan at night—a bright, expansive, incandescent glow that seems to float somewhere between the top of the city and the sky,” and that glow spells l-o-v-e. Newcomer Dearie’s fast-food writing—all plot-driven, all dependent on outrageous coincidences—will go over well with folks whose only hope in life is the lottery. In fact, one could imagine this one having been cut-and-pasted from other like novels, and people loving it just for that reason.

A sitcom praying hard for the leap to romantic comedy.

Pub Date: July 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-670-03219-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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