STONEWALL'S GOLD

A NOVEL OF THE CIVIL WAR

This first novel by ex-Congressman Mrazek is a deft and fast-paced historical adventure, involving a ragtag group of villains, double agents, and a tough-minded young hero and heroine contending for a cache of gold. Set in the waning months of the Civil War, in the devastated Shenandoah Valley, the story traces the growing involvement of 15-year-old Jamie Lockhart in the search for several crates of Confederate gold, seized by the Union in 1861, and then quickly stolen by a group of Confederate officers, who hide in the expectation that the war will soon be over and the Confederacy none the worse for its disappearance. The last survivor of that group leads a band of cutthroats in pursuit of Jamie, who has accidentally discovered the only map to the gold. Another group soon enters the fray, determined to use the gold for the benefit of newly emancipated slaves. Arid Jamie wants to deliver the gold bars personally to Robert E. Lee. Along the way, he joins forces with the bright, independent, and bloody-minded Katherine Dandridge. Just 18 years old, she is determined to track down and kill the Confederate deserters pursuing Jamie after they ruthlessly shoot down her father. Confederate and union raiders, newly escaped slaves, and a seemingly demented actor soon enter the fray, which turns even bloodier. Jamie and Katherine survive, older and wiser for their struggles, and with secrets of their own. A gripping, well-researched, and vivid debut.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-312-20024-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1998

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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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