THE FIRST HUSBAND

The heroine of Dave’s newest post-feminist chick-lit romance (The Divorce Party, 2008, etc.) must choose between the quiet life offered by her new husband and the fast lane her former lover represents.

Only days after 32-year-old Annie gets dumped by longtime live-in boyfriend Nick, an up-and-coming movie director, she meets Griffin at the chichi L.A. restaurant she frequents—talk about romantic fantasy: Annie’s career as a monthly travel columnist pays well, apparently demands little time or difficult travel and is never seriously endangered—and where he is temporarily the chef. It seems to be love at first sight, although Annie’s best friend Jordan, who also happens to be Nick’s sister, calls Griffin “Rebound Guy.” Three months after they meet, he proposes. They marry in a Vegas chapel on their way across the country to Griffin’s western Massachusetts hometown, where he is about to open his own restaurant—Annie’s job with a New York paper also allows her to live anywhere. But Williamsburg requires a lot of adjusting on Annie’s part. Griffin’s genius brother Jesse and his 5-year-old twins move in with the newlyweds because Jesse’s wife has thrown him out for impregnating the MIT professor guiding his doctorate program. The twin’s art teacher turns out to be Gia, until recently Griffin’s girlfriend of 13 years, whom Griffin’s mother makes clear she’d much prefer as a daughter-in-law. Then Nick shows up from his new base in London to win Annie back; she turns him down, but she feels stirrings. When the new Rupert Murdocklike owner of her paper offers her a job in London, Griffin encourages her to try it out. Soon she’s settled in London in a fantastic apartment, the company is grooming her for a new dream job, the publisher’s dashing son is wooing her and Nick is just a call away. What’s a girl to do? A lightweight romance posing as something realistic and psychologically profound.

 

Pub Date: May 16, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-670-02267-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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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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