An impressive, culturally informative, and engaging love story filled with conflicts.

THE UNEXPECTED DAUGHTER

A romance between a woman from a poor, Southern family and a man from a large, close-knit, Indian immigrant clan sparks a clash that threatens to destroy the lives of three main characters in this debut novel.

Jenny Jenkins and Roshan Desai meet in dental school in Memphis and are simply good friends —until a graduation night celebration sends them into each other’s arms. Unfortunately, Roshan’s mother, Esha, who has a key to her son’s apartment, finds them together the next morning. Staring at Jenny, Esha says to her son, “Roshan, you need to take out the trash.” Jenny and Roshan go their separate ways only to reconnect after a decade, reigniting their passion; family chaos ensues. Each of the three characters has a life-altering back story, pieces of which are revealed along the way. Jenny becomes a successful dentist in Atlanta; Roshan agrees to a traditional, arranged marriage, but his dental practice is jeopardized by alcoholism and his lack of interest in his work. Esha is tortured by her son’s loveless and childless marriage but has learned to always maintain a public face of contentment: “If you tell a lie often enough, doesn’t it become the truth?” Jenny and Roshan are almost polar opposites. Jenny left home early to reinvent herself. She is independent and relentless in her pursuit of her career. Roshan is a rebel, but he’s constrained by tradition and various obligations to his widowed mother. He is both smothered and nourished by his family. Of these three fully developed characters, Esha is the most intriguing. Widowed when Roshan was 4 and thoroughly entrenched in Indian tradition, she gradually ventures out into mainstream society in search of purpose and reconciliation with her son. Parbhoo, a Southerner who is herself married to an Indian immigrant from South Africa, enriches the narrative with lavish descriptions of Indian food, dress, and family gatherings. And she has a wonderful eye for detail—at a celebration, Esha watches the younger women dancing: “The tiny mirrors on their flowing skirts created a swirl of colors, rotating in a circle.”

An impressive, culturally informative, and engaging love story filled with conflicts.

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9982310-0-6

Page Count: 390

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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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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