Dixie chicks and damn Yankees alike will enjoy seeing the world through Leelee’s eyes.

WHISTLIN’ DIXIE IN A NOR’EASTER

Patton debuts with a peachy-keen summer read about a Southern woman’s misadventures as a Vermont innkeeper.

Leelee Satterfield is a bona fide Memphis gal of the country-club variety, part of the ladies-who-lunch set and not at all eager to leave behind this privileged society. But when her gorgeous, sweet-talking husband Baker wants to buy an inn in Vermont and move up north with their two young girls, Leelee reluctantly acquiesces. She may be slightly spoiled, but she is devoted to her man right down to her well-manicured toes. Vermont proves to be everything she feared it would be—cold and lonely, for a start. As Leelee and Baker take on their misfit roles as innkeepers, predictable comedic chaos and challenges ensue; then an unexpected darker twist leaves Leelee alone and for the first time in charge of her own life. This adds weight to the otherwise just-for-kicks narrative and creates a nice balance: Leelee grapples with major life changes, but she’s also as fun and flaky as the peach cobbler she whips up in her inn’s restaurant. The book overflows with Southern charm, and although our heroine at times appears flighty and superficial, the obvious importance and profundity of her friendships and her love for her daughters are her saving graces. Leelee slowly comes around to her less fashion-conscious Vermont neighbors, heavy snowfall and actually lifting a finger to make a living. The appearance of a very cute new head chef adds a flirty element of romance, and her colorful best friends from Memphis provide a whirlwind of animated comedy. This sassy, lighthearted romp twists and turns toward a conclusion that is not at all foregone, but is immensely satisfying.

Dixie chicks and damn Yankees alike will enjoy seeing the world through Leelee’s eyes.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-312-55660-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009

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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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