LADYSTINGER

Likable con artist Maggie Rohrer gets yanked out of her round of routine scams rolling lecherous conventioneers in New Orleans for a Mission: Impossible scenario in Jamaica. Maggie's new assignment is to wiggle her hips, etc., at pill- popping underworld accountant Gordon Wexler, feed him a dose from her bottle of knockout drops, and pinch a computer diskette loaded with information about the money-laundering activities of Wexler's boss, Albert Magliocco (called ``Headache'' for his habit of decapitating business rivals). But when she and her new mentor, Jack Shanks, take off for Jamaica, they're walking into more trouble than they know: Maggie's old partner Barry Landers is on their tail, and the suitcase Maggie's about to lift from Wexler—in lieu of the magic diskette—is bulging with cash he's stolen from the Magliocco brothers in preparation for flying off into the sunset. The possibilities for double- and triple-crosses are multiplied by the news that Jack's an FBI agent out on a limb trying to build a case against Headache—or is he an ex-agent, as he insists, determined to clear his name after an unfair suspension, or maybe a free-lance just trying to take Maggie for a ride along with the hoods? So much for Maggie's hero; you can imagine what the heavies' knife-wielding henchmen are like. Newcomer Smith writes without Elmore Leonard's sense of vicious, meanspirited fun, but, still, he keeps you guessing about Jack and Maggie up until the last page. The movie sale promises Charade on uppers.

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 1992

ISBN: 0-517-59012-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1992

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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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