Richard and Robin’s 20th adventure keeps the action high from the opening pages. It’s a bracing tonic for armchair...

RIVER OF GHOSTS

When the sleuthing Mariners pitch in to rescue a crew of trapped submariners, they get entangled in a web of deeper skullduggery.

In the East China Sea, adventuring couple Richard and Robin Mariner (Benin Light, 2008, etc.) get a shock when a giant squid attacks their newly acquired submarine Neptune, which they’re monitoring from their mother ship, the nimble and elaborately equipped Poseidon. Their crane successfully raises the vessel, but the maneuver leads to some squabbling among the Mariners’ Chinese crew, whom Richard has given nicknames like Ironwrist, Steadyhand, Straightline and Fatfist. The political situation in the region remains dicey for Westerners. When a typhoon strikes, Poseidon escapes unscathed, but not Neptune. Efforts to save it lead to a man overboard and another close scrape. All of this is a prelude to the main action—the discovery of a crew of trapped submariners aboard the Romeo Huangpu, a rare diesel-powered submarine whose well-publicized mission is to find the fabled treasure ship of Kublai Khan. The vessel disappeared more than 700 years ago while en route to Japan, carrying, so the legend goes, a massive trove of gold. Employing the Neptune and the equipment the Mariners have used to test it, they set about rescuing the sub and its crew. What they discover astounds them and puts a dangerous and politically sensitive spin on their adventure.

Richard and Robin’s 20th adventure keeps the action high from the opening pages. It’s a bracing tonic for armchair commodores.

Pub Date: June 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-7278-6743-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Severn House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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