The Hardest Step Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Hardest Step

Marti Lundstrum was badly injured in a car accident that killed both of her parents. Life as she knew it is over, but she is determined to start a new life for herself. After extensive therapy, Marti is able to walk with a cane and to work at the managed care facility where she lives. The facility runs an answering service and she answers the phones at night, takes messages, makes wake up calls, does light filing, etc. Marti is happy where she is, but she knows that there are many others waiting to take her place at the facility and that it is time to move on - no matter how scary that prospect is.
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Burke Hildebrand has been on the move for most of his adult life. He is a construction manager and moves from job to job to finish projects. Burke's last job was in Australia and he is happy to move to Florida to take on a challenging new job building a new type of office park including offices, conference rooms, and industrial space. The only person he knows is the beautiful, alto voice on the end of his phone line whom he knows as Marti-with-an-i. He is determined to get to know her better, but Marti is pretty skittish and doesn't think she is ready for a relationship.

However, things change when Marti begins to prepare to leave the managed care facility. No one wants to give her a job because she walks with a cane and it is hard to find an apartment with easy access for her. Burke keeps trying to persuade her to work with him at the Tanglewood Office Complex, where he has been desperately looking for an office manager. Finally, Marti allows Burke to hire her and she finds she loves her challenging new job. Housing and transportation are still a problem, however and Marti isn't sure she can continue working there.

Burke has the perfect solution when he suggests Marti move into his huge new Spanish-style villa so they can drive to and from work together. Marti is hesitant at first, but she is so comfortable with Burke that she goes along with the plan. Burke tries to be a gentleman and give Marti her space, but she doesn't seem to understand how much he loves her - her cane doesn't matter to him! Marti loves Burke, too, but all she can think of are the problems her physical handicaps would cause, can she have a baby or sex with Burke? Marti fears that she cannot give Burke what he needs so she continues to push him away. Will Burke ever be able to convince Marti that she is everything he ever wanted?

I was excited to read the story at first because it had such an unusual premise and I really liked the characters. Bierce did a lovely job with her characterization and I really grew to like Marti and to admire her strengths and Burke for wanting to be with her, despite what society may say. I was disappointed with the lack of romantic development between the two as things stayed pretty much the same from start to finish. It was like the plot just kept going along without anything really happening. Still, the book is well written and I can tell that the author has potential, maybe I will give her another chance on something else she has written...

The review of this Book prepared by Debbie

Chapter Analysis of The Hardest Step

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Plot & Themes

Time/era of story    -   1980's-1999 How difficult?    -   very shy/inexperienced Inner struggle subplot    -   Yes If one lover chases another...    -   he chases after her In love with caretaker or teacher    -   Yes Falling in love with    -   Homecaring friend Disability or addiction?    -   physical disability/sickness/injury

Main Male Character

Profession/status:    -   architect Age/status:    -   20's-30's Sex makes him    -   confident

Main Female Character

Age/status:    -   20's-30's Profession/status:    -   secretary Effect of sexing    -   confident    -   a better lover    -   mature Unusual characteristics:    -   Super sensitive soggy jelly muffin


United States    -   Yes City?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment What % of story is romance related?    -   60% How explicit is the sex?    -   vague references only    -   descript of kissing Focus of story    -   Her How much dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog How much sexing?    -   no sex

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Jane Bierce Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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