Moody (The Office of Desire, 2007, etc.) has a gift for creating imperfect yet endearing characters, but she spells out her...


Cancer disrupts a divorced cardiologist’s affair with a married man but wakes her up to life’s possibilities.

Highly educated, highly competent, almost irritatingly self-deprecating cardiologist Genie Toledo is the workaholic partner in a three-doctor practice in Columbus, Ohio. Only Thursday nights are sacrosanct and beeperless. For 12 years Genie, now in her late 40s, has driven to a hotel near the state line to rendezvous with Mick Crabbe, head basketball coach at Turkman State in West Virginia. Although they meet only once a week, Mick is the center of Genie’s otherwise barren emotional life. In his 50s, married with three adult children, Mick is a charismatic, upbeat leader devoted to his team; part of his original attraction to Genie was her interest, in contrast to his wife’s lack thereof, in discussing basketball dynamics and strategy. The 1999–2000 season is a turning point in both their lives. When his team doesn’t gel, Mick loses his usual optimism. Then he begs Genie to treat his daughter Jessica, a single mother in her 20s, for coronary artery disease. Genie comes face to face with Mick’s unsuspecting wife Karn and listens to Jessica describe her parents’ marriage in less-than-flattering terms. But the novel doesn’t pick up steam until Mick announces he has prostate cancer. He delays surgery until the season ends, and as his cancer progresses with alarming speed, he turns his wobbly team around. After Karn confronts Genie with her knowledge of the affair, Mick breaks it off then begs Genie to let him move in with her. She sends him back to his family. She and Karn develop an uneasy intimacy, almost an alliance, as his condition deteriorates.

Moody (The Office of Desire, 2007, etc.) has a gift for creating imperfect yet endearing characters, but she spells out her moral lessons too pointedly.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59448-870-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2009

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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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