A gripping, psychologically nuanced thriller set along the fault lines of a marriage.

BINDS THAT TIE

A married couple covers up a murder, kicking off an engaging, literary suspense novel.

When Maggie kills an intruder in the home she shares with her husband, Chris, they face a seemingly untenable dilemma. It’s complicated by the fact that she publicly flirted with the murder victim before he began stalking her. Chris, irreparably scarred by events in his past, insists that they can’t trust the police and must conceal the body. But detectives zero in on them almost immediately, arriving at their home to question them the very next day. The ensuing investigation will test Maggie and Chris’ bonds of love and loyalty more than they could have ever imagined. How far will they go to protect each other when the police narrow their investigation further? Debut author Moretti’s prose is taut and elegant, with some passages that are positively lyrical (“[B]efore Maggie, his life had nothing….After, well, after was a love seismograph—sharp, ecstatic peaks and equally deep, despairing valleys, all intermingled with the apathetic flat line of the everyday”). The deft pacing allows time for plot complications to develop while also keeping readers turning pages. The author vividly portrays the sharp sting of infidelity, the abiding ache of infertility and the amorphous discontent of a love past its luster—all while moving the murder investigation swiftly forward. The foreshadowing is so skillful that plot twists feel surprising yet somehow inevitable. Other subtle touches (such as Maggie’s cracking the skull of the intruder with a Lenox vase, a wedding present) will further enhance readers’ pleasure. The dialogue is natural and authentic, and the story builds steadily to a satisfying, emotionally resonant conclusion.

A gripping, psychologically nuanced thriller set along the fault lines of a marriage.

Pub Date: March 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1940215266

Page Count: 306

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2014

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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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