A satisfying historical novel with richly drawn characters and vivid settings.

Into the Realm of Time

A NOVEL OF THE FOURTH CENTURY ROMAN EMPIRE

A Roman general’s fate intersects with those of a disparate group of soldiers, clergy, and royalty in Prill’s debut.

In the year 372, Gen. Marcus Augustus Valerias leads his men with an iron fist and an unwavering loyalty to the Roman Empire. He relies on a small, devoted inner circle to help him maintain order over his men. They include his second- and third-in-command, Braxus and Cratus, respectively; his bodyguard, Bukarma; intelligence officer Revious; physician Olivertos; and chief administrator Jacob. When soldiers capture a Christian priest named Joseph along with a renegade band of Goths, Jacob’s surprise intervention spares him from Valerias’ brand of justice. Eventually, Joseph becomes an assistant to both Jacob and Olivertos, impressing Valerias with his skill and ability to learn new tasks. After Jacob’s death, Valerias contemplates his life and storied military career and comes to a pivotal decision. At the age of 45, having spent more than 30 years in the army, he’s ready to retire to Britannia; however, his retirement won’t be as simple as turning control of his army over to Braxus and Cratus. Valerias’ destiny becomes intertwined with those of Joseph; Claire, a widowed queen fleeing an arranged marriage; and Huns Uldric and Rao, fraternal twins whose ambitions seem limitless. Epic in scope, Prill’s expansive narrative boasts a large cast of characters whose lives connect at several different junctures in the story. The chief protagonist, Valerias, is a dynamic, forceful figure whose journey gives the narrative weight and gravitas. He finds an ideal complement in Claire, a loyal queen committed to protecting her children from the man who caused the death of her husband. The supporting characters are equally well-developed—particularly Joseph, a one-time food merchant and physician who finds strength and purpose in his Christian faith. The narrative is long, but Prill’s sturdy, workmanlike prose is sharp, and the story moves at a brisk pace. The detailed settings add another strong dimension to the novel, giving life and vitality to both the Roman Empire and Britannia.

A satisfying historical novel with richly drawn characters and vivid settings.

Pub Date: May 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9908604-2-6

Page Count: 655

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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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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