Only experts will be able to keep in mind the differences between, say, an HIT helicopter and a HIND gunship, but so many...

SOAR

Acronym-encrusted, jargon-heavy, military shoot-’em-up.

The appeal of Richard Marcinko’s Rogue Warrior autobiography, and subsequent Rogue Warrior novels (all written with Weisman), was that America’s fighters—like Marcinko—could grab the latest military hardware and win any fight, anywhere, anytime, and that the only real enemy they faced were incompetent bureaucrats who wouldn’t let our gung-ho guys (and gals) do their thing. Army Special Forces Major Mike Ritzik and the rest of the soldier-heroes Weisman introduces find more than enough reasons to share that frustration as they race to rescue a CIA team captured in the Chinese desert by Islamic Uzbeki separatist-terrorists who’ve stolen an old but lethal Chinese-made atom bomb. Fortunately, the straight-talking Secretary of Defense, Robert “Rocky” Rockman, as well as American President Pete Forrest, a pro-military Vietnam war veteran, put Ritzik’s mission on the front burner. America is about to sign a nuclear weapons reduction treaty with China, and the CIA team, posing as filmmakers, had been planting seismic listening devices to detect underground tests. Not only are the terrorists crazed (the leader kills one of the team on a caprice), but China has already dispatched soldiers to get its bomb back—and finding a covert CIA team along with the bad guys wouldn’t look good for the US. Ritzik assembles a crack team of Delta Force specialists with names like Rowdy and Ty but gets two extra passengers: beautiful but brainy Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy Tracy Wei-Liu, the only person nearby capable of disarming the bomb; and Michael “Mickey D” Dunne, a Special Operations Air Regiment (SOAR) helicopter pilot. Snatching the CIA team from the terrorists is almost routine, but then there are Chinese troops arriving in helicopters.

Only experts will be able to keep in mind the differences between, say, an HIT helicopter and a HIND gunship, but so many crackerjack good guys, stirring esprit de corps, and spectacular explosions make for a suspenseful war fantasy.

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-052409-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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