A wholesome and uplifting tale of rediscovered hope, love, and second chances, perfect for fans of breezy, beachy fiction.

THE GIFTS OF PELICAN ISLE

A young woman, devastated by the loss of her husband and unborn child, relocates to a remote island where the local culture helps her learn to live again. 

Gerler (Lessons I Learned from Nick Nack, 2014, etc.) introduces the story’s heroine, Ally Albright, after she has hit rock bottom. Ally mourns her husband and baby, who were killed when the family car was struck by a drunk driver. Emotionally ravaged and teetering on the edge of a psychotic breakdown, Ally has lost the will to live. She has abandoned her career as a teacher and spends her days closeted in her childhood bedroom. Her concerned parents, who have been nursing her through her grief, can’t figure out how to rouse her from her misery. Then one day, everything changes. A former professor contacts Ally, requesting that she help a struggling school. Located on a remote island off the coast of North Carolina, Pelican Isle Elementary is desperate for a first-grade teacher. Ally’s professor, Dr. Betsy Brown, persuades her to fill in temporarily, until a permanent replacement can be found. Within a matter of days on the island, Ally’s life, as well as her outlook, begins to evolve. Although school supplies and state funding are sorely lacking at Pelican Isle Elementary, enthusiasm for education and community spirit are present in abundance. As the Pelican Isle residents embrace Ally, she begins to find new purpose. When a local woman comes to her for help with a heart-wrenching conundrum, Ally begins to realize just how much Pelican Isle means to her. The fast-paced narrative style offers a host of plot twists and unexpected developments for the denizens of sleepy Pelican Isle that should keep readers eagerly turning pages. Gerler’s writing is replete with compassion and grace as she addresses issues of poverty, nationality, loss, and love that arise on this small island. At one point, Ally reads a volume of sonnets, a Christmas gift from a Pelican Isle denizen: “The cadence of the lines felt lovely as I spoke the words, so soft and tender. The poems were of love, and they touched my heart. Maybe I’d just never given sonnets a chance.” With finesse and wit, the author depicts the power of kindness in healing the human heart. 

A wholesome and uplifting tale of rediscovered hope, love, and second chances, perfect for fans of breezy, beachy fiction.

Pub Date: May 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5306-9168-5

Page Count: 250

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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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