Daxton Chambers may have found a woman tailor-made for him. Mackenzie Morgan wins the Ranger over not just with her curves,...

Justice for Mackenzie

BADGE OF HONOR

From the Texas Heroes series , Vol. 1

A Texas Ranger’s newly discovered romance may be threatened by a serial killer who buries women alive in Stoker’s (Protecting Jessyka, 2015, etc.) thriller, the first in a series.

Daxton Chambers may have found a woman tailor-made for him. Mackenzie Morgan wins the Ranger over not just with her curves, but her quirks—a tendency toward rambling and unmitigated clumsiness. Mackenzie also distracts Daxton from the case he’s working with the feds: finding the Lone Star Reaper, who’s been calling authorities to tell them where he’s buried his latest victims. The Reaper soon focuses his attention on Daxton and his new girlfriend. And the worst happens: Mackenzie calls him to say she’s somewhere underground—and doesn’t have long before she suffocates. The novel establishes its romance early and well. Mackenzie is a winsome protagonist who defies formula: she’s short, practical, and isn’t model-thin. It’s easy to see why Daxton find her so appealing, especially when she laughs after spilling a drink or food on herself. Daxton is, a little disappointingly, more stereotypical: muscular, masculine, protective, and sporting what Mackenzie calls a “fourteen-pack.” Their relationship builds naturally as they push past the initially awkward getting-to-know-you stage and inevitable sex scenes before dropping an “I love you” or two—all without ever being sappy. There’s not much thriller here. Daxton’s case steers clear of the foreground until Mackenzie is suddenly missing—her call to Daxton amping up the narrative’s intensity. Stoker ultimately reveals the Lone Star Reaper, but the killer’s identity and brief appearance are neither shocking nor particularly scary. But Daxton’s desperation to find Mackenzie is rousing and believable, and readers will have a white-knuckle read until the end.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-943562-01-5

Page Count: -

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 29, 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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