A harebrained tale not even a desperate housewife could love.

THE HIGH-IMPACT INFIDELITY DIET

An idiotic, implausible novel about three women who use the prospect of sex with a prostitute to get their husbands to lose weight.

Three suburban wives, Brin, Cheryl and Dierdre, have had it up to here with their tubby hubbies, each weighing over three bills. Their ever-ravenous, couch-surfing spouses, Martin, Doug and Randy, refuse to lose weight, so whatever could motivate them? Why, sex with a hot hooker, of course! Brin invents a college friend who’s become a “pro,” and the women tell their guys that they can each have a guilt-free roll in the hay with her once they’ve reached a goal weight of 210 pounds (is 210 svelte nowadays?). Confident they’ve set the bar too high, the wives relax and enjoy their husbands’ initial success. Meanwhile, the boys huff and puff, deny themselves cheez curls and obsess over their prize: Who’s going to get to her first? Are they allowed to make side bets, like whoever loses ten pounds before the others gets the only blowjob? It’s all quite imbecilic and misogynistic yet nonprovocative—like Neil LaBute, de-fanged. Needless to say, the men continue to drop flab at a brisk pace, with the prostitute a constant thought, dangling in front of their minds’ eye like the proverbial carrot—or, in this case, Twinkie. As the scales dip toward 210, Brin, Cheryl and Dierdre start to panic: Should they come clean? Nah—too complicated. Instead, they interview several candidates, hire a lovely intelligent call girl named Cinnamon and book a less-than-seedy hotel room. (Wow—what cool chicks!) In the end, we have several hundred pounds lost as well as one divorce, one marriage holding steady and one couple moving on to explore threesomes with hookers. The moral? Um . . .

A harebrained tale not even a desperate housewife could love.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-4000-9845-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Three Rivers/Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2005

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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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