A pleasing cross-genre novel.


From the Highland Spirits series , Vol. 1

A novel that mixes Scottish history, an ancient curse, and a hint of romance.

After her fiance breaks up with her via text, Aubrey Cumming finds herself at a loss. After all, she moved from Pennsylvania to the town of Harrington, New Jersey, for him. After a pity party with two of her friends, she returns to work at her bookstore job. There, her Scottish boss, Angus MacKintosh, offers her a trip to Scotland to visit the land of her ancestors and get over her ex. Her boss even found her a place to stay for free, with just one catch—she’ll have to find a way to break a curse placed on the MacKintosh family back in 1442: “none shall be loved truly, but always in vain.” To break it, a Cumming must fall in love with a MacKintosh. In Scotland, Aubrey takes her time enjoying life as a tourist, but it isn’t long before she meets two strapping Scottish gentlemen, Finn Cameron and Connor MacConnach. But in the wake of Brexit, Scotland is still fighting for its independence from the United Kingdom, and the Caledonia First campaign has powerful enemies as well as a traitor in their midst. Author MacKinnon (Whiskey Dreams, 2018, etc.) offers a little something for everyone in this novel, including a love triangle, supernatural elements, political intrigue, dramatic history, and beautiful scenery in a truly epic tale. Aubrey’s time in Scotland is broken up by glimpses of the past, which show how the family curse came about. The well-developed main characters are backed up by a host of entertaining and lovable secondary players. It’s clear the author did her research about the country, history, and landscape, which may cause some readers to do further research, if not book tours of their own. This novel is also highly recommended for fans of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, as its fans will find many hidden and not-so-hidden references to it in the text.

A pleasing cross-genre novel.

Pub Date: March 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73383-840-5

Page Count: 356

Publisher: DartFrog Books

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


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.


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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