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Ransom

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Overview

A violent crime brings together four lives in Danielle Steel’s sixtieth bestselling novel, the story of a mother’s courage, a family’s terror, and a triumph of human strength and dignity in the face of overwhelming odds.

Outside the gates of a California prison, Peter Morgan is released after four long years and vows to redeem himself in the eyes of the young daughters he left behind. Simultaneously, Carl Waters, a convicted murderer, is set on the path of freedom with him. That...

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Ransom

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Overview

A violent crime brings together four lives in Danielle Steel’s sixtieth bestselling novel, the story of a mother’s courage, a family’s terror, and a triumph of human strength and dignity in the face of overwhelming odds.

Outside the gates of a California prison, Peter Morgan is released after four long years and vows to redeem himself in the eyes of the young daughters he left behind. Simultaneously, Carl Waters, a convicted murderer, is set on the path of freedom with him. That night, three hundred miles south in San Francisco, police detective Ted Lee comes home to a silent house; for twenty-nine years, he has been living for his job—and slowly falling out of love with his wife. Across town, in an exclusive Pacific Heights neighborhood, a mother tries to shield her three children from the panic rising within her. Four months after her husband’s death, Fernanda Barnes faces a mountain of debt she cannot repay, a world destroyed, and a marriage lost.

Within weeks, the lives of these four people will collide in ways none of them could have foreseen. For Fernanda, whose life had once been graced by beautiful homes, security, success, and stunning wealth, the death of her brilliant, brooding husband was already too much to bear. She simply couldn’t imagine a greater loss, until a devastating crime rocks her family to its core—and brings Detective Ted Lee into her life.
A man of unshakable integrity, Lee will soon become the one person who tries to save Fernanda’s family from a terrifying fate. Fernanda must draw on a strength she never knew she had. Racing against time in the underbelly of the criminal world, buffeted by the dark side of power, and unmoored by loss and betrayal, no one can predict where this tragedy will take them.

Danielle Steel brilliantly explores the collision of a shocking crime with the ordinary lives of its victims in a novel that mesmerizes from start to finish. Ransom is at once a riveting evocation of life’s inexplicable turns of fate and a testament to the human will to survive.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The world's most popular author tells a good, well-paced story and explores some important issues...Steel affirm[s] life while admitting its turbulence, melodramas, and misfiring passions."
--Booklist

"Danielle Steel writes boldly and with practiced vividness about tragedy--both national and personal...with insight and power."
--The Nashville Banner

From the Hardcover edition.

Publishers Weekly
A reformed drug dealer, a desperate widow, a bigtime crook and a compassionate cop are the players in this perfunctory kidnapping yarn set in San Francisco. Peter Morgan, a privileged young man, lost everything in a personal war with drugs, including his wife and two daughters. When he is released from prison, he is determined to go straight, but hard times force him to seek out Phillip Addison, a business mogul with many shady operations on the side. Addison makes Morgan an offer he can't refuse: either recruit some fellow ex-cons to kidnap the children of recently deceased dot-com multimillionaire Allan Barnes, or his own kids will suffer. Against his will, Morgan hatches a plan. Meanwhile, Allan's widow, Fernanda, is struggling to make ends meet, since unknown to nearly everyone, Allan lost all his money in bad investments before committing suicide. The San Francisco cops, led by Insp. Det. Ted Lee, find files suggesting that Addison is plotting something, but even heavy police protection can't prevent Fernanda's youngest son, Sam, from being snatched. Lee moves into the Barnes mansion to oversee the search for the kidnappers and watch over Fernanda, but in the end Morgan plays the crucial role in saving Sam. The novel begins slowly, with lengthy introductions to all the principal characters, and never picks up speed, with Steel narrating as if from a distance, glossing over critical scenes and skimping on dialogue. Reluctant villain Morgan is a sympathetic bad guy, and Steel engineers the requisite romance between Ted and Fernanda, but this is thin fare. (Mar. 2) Forecast: A New York Times review of Steel's previous novel, Safe Harbour, hits the nail on the head in pronouncing Steel's books "listless," but when it comes to sales, the author's name overrides all adverse press. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
When a violent crime rocks her family, Fernanda Barnes finds her life irretrievably linked to stalwart detective Ted Lee, convicted murderer Carl Waters, and Peter Morgan, an ex-con trying to go straight. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Smooth ex-con kidnaps son of bankrupt dot-com entrepreneur. No one knows that billionaire Allan Barnes lost all his money in the high-tech collapse-his widow, Fernanda, makes sure of that. A devoted mother and a simple soul at heart, she hopes to keep up appearances for the sake of her three darling children, Will, Ashley, and Sam. Fernanda never really wanted to be rich, anyway, or move from the family's modest Palo Alto home. Fame and fortune seem shallow and silly now, ever since shaky deals and staggering debt devoured Allan's empire. The whole truth may never be known-his body simply washed up in Mexico. His suspicious death is under investigation by his insurance company, and she wants to sell their last remaining asset, a palatial San Francisco mansion. Enter Peter Morgan, a socially connected, charming Harvard MBA just paroled after a conviction for cocaine dealing. Gosh, he can't even get a job as a dishwasher. A nefarious acquaintance, Philip Addison, offers Peter a deal of sorts: kidnap one of the Barnes children for an immense ransom. Addison is $30 million in debt, and the villainous Colombians whose money's he's been laundering for years are twirling their mustaches and making sinister noises. What's an ex-con to do? Why, accept Addison's deal, of course, and enlist the assistance of fellow former jailbirds. A lackluster chase unfolds at a snail's pace, complete with a kind but tough detective, Chinese-American Ted Lee, and mom Fernanda in a swiped police uniform at the finale to rescue brave little Sam. Show-and-tell suspenser from Steel, heavily freighted with clumsy exposition. An afterthought romance for Lee and Fernanda is chilly and utterly unconvincing. Agent: MortJanklow/Janklow & Nesbit
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440240761
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/25/2005
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 355,291
  • Product dimensions: 4.15 (w) x 6.85 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Danielle Steel has been hailed as one of the world’s most popular authors, with over 570 million copies of her novels sold. Her many international bestsellers include Rogue, Honor Thyself, Amazing Grace, Bungalow 2, Sisters, H.R.H., and other highly acclaimed novels. She is also the author of His Bright Light, the story of her son Nick Traina’s life and death.

From the Hardcover edition.

Biography

When it comes to commanding bestseller lists, no writer can come close to Danielle Steel. Her work has been published in 47 countries, in 28 languages. She has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the author who has spent the most consecutive weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. She has not only published novels, but has written non-fiction, a book of poetry, and two series of children's books. Many of her books have been adapted for television movies, one of which (Jewels) was nominated for two Golden Globe awards. She has received the title of Chevalier of the distinguished Order of Arts and Letters by the French Government for her immense body of work. In short, to say that Steel is the single most popular living writer in the world is no overstatement.

Steel published her first novel, Going Home, when she was a mere 26 years old, and the book introduced readers to many of the themes that would dominate her novels for the next 30-odd years. It is an exploration of human relationships told dramatically, a story of the past's thrall on the present. Anyone familiar with Steel's work will recognize these themes as being close to her heart, as are familial issues, which are at the root of her many mega-sellers.

Although Steel has a reputation among critics as being a writer of fluffy, escapist fare, she never shies away from taking on dark subject matter, having addressed illnesses, incest, suicide, divorce, death, the Holocaust, and war in her work. Of course, even when she is handling unsavory topics, she does so entertainingly and with refinement. Her stories may often cross over into the realm of melodrama, but she never fails to spin a compelling yarn told with a skilled ear for dialogue and character, while consistently showing how one can overcome the greatest of tragedies. Ever prolific, she usually produces several books per year, often juggling multiple projects at the same time.

With all of the time and effort Steel puts into her work (she claims to sometimes spend as much as 20 hours a day at her keyboard), it is amazing that she still has time for a personal life. However, as one might assume from her work, family is still incredibly important to her, and she maintains a fairly private personal life. Fortunately for her millions of fans, she continues to devote more than a small piece of that life to them.

Good To Know

Along with her famed adult novels, Steel has also written two series of books for kids with the purpose of helping them through difficult situations, such as dealing with a new stepfather and coping with the death of a grandparent.

When Steel isn't working on her latest bestseller or spending time with her beloved family, she is devoting her time to one of several philanthropic projects to benefit the mentally ill, the homeless, and abused children.

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    1. Hometown:
      San Francisco, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 14, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      Educated in France. Also attended Parsons School of Design, 1963, and New York University, 1963-67
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Peter Matthew Morgan stood at the counter, picking up his things. A wallet with four hundred dollars in it, from his cash account. The release papers he had to take with him, and give his parole agent. He was wearing clothes the state had given him. He was wearing jeans, a white T-shirt with a denim shirt over it, running shoes, and white socks. It was a far cry from what he had worn when he came in. He had been in Pelican Bay State Prison for four years and three months. He had served the minimum amount of time of his sentence, which was nonetheless a big hunk of time for a first offense. He had been caught with an extraordinary amount of cocaine, prosecuted by the state, convicted in a jury trial, and sentenced to State Prison at Pelican Bay.

At first, he had only sold to friends. Eventually, it not only supported the habit he had developed inadvertently, it supported all his financial needs and at one time his family's as well. He had made nearly a million dollars in the six months before he'd been caught, but even that didn't fill the hole in the dam he'd created with the financial juggling he'd done. Drugs, bad investments, selling short, huge risks on commodities. He'd been a stockbroker for a while, and got in trouble with the SEC, not enough to be prosecuted, in which case he would have been arrested by the feds and not the state, but he never was. He had been living so far beyond his means, to such an insane degree, had so many potentially explosive balls in the air, and developed such a massive drug habit hanging out with the wrong people, that eventually the only way to negotiate his debt to his dealer had been to deal drugs for him. There had also been a small matter of bad checks and embezzlement, but he got lucky once again. His employer had decided not to press charges, once he got arrested for dealing cocaine. What was the point? He didn't have the money anyway, whatever he had taken, and it was in fact a relatively small amount in the scheme of things, and the money was long gone. There was no way he could recoup the funds. His employer at the time felt sorry for him. Peter had a way of charming people, and making them fond of him.

Peter Morgan was the epitome of a nice guy gone wrong. Somewhere along the way, he had opted for the low road too many times, and blown every golden opportunity he'd ever had. More than Peter, his friends and business associates felt sorry for his wife and kids, who became the victims of his crazy schemes and rotten judgment. But everyone who knew him would have said that at the core, Peter Morgan was a nice guy. It was hard to say what had gone wrong. In truth, a lot had, for a long time.

Peter's father died when he was three, and had been the scion of an illustrious family from the cream of social circles in New York. The family fortune had been dwindling for years, and his mother managed to squander whatever his father left, long before Peter grew up. Soon after his father died, she married another very social, aristocratic young man. He was the heir of an important banking family, who was devoted to Peter and his two siblings, educated and loved them, sent them to the best private schools, along with the two half-brothers who came into Peter's life during the course of their marriage. The family appeared wholesome, and moneyed certainly, although his mother's drinking increased steadily over time, and wound her up in an institution eventually, leaving Peter and his two full siblings technically orphaned. His stepfather had never legally adopted them, and remarried a year after Peter's mother died. His new wife saw no reason why her husband should be burdened, financially or otherwise, with three children who weren't his own. She was willing to take on the two children he had had by that marriage, although she wanted them sent away to boarding school. But she wanted nothing to do with the three children that had come into his previous marriage, with Peter's mother. All Peter's stepfather was willing to do after that was pay for boarding school, and then college, and an inadequate allowance, but he explained, somewhat sheepishly, that he could no longer offer them haven in his home, nor additional funds.

After that, Peter's vacations were spent at school, or at the homes of friends, whom he managed to charm into taking him home. And he was very charming. Once his mother died, Peter learned to live by his wits. It was all he had, and worked well for him. The only love and nurturing he got in those years were from friends' parents.

There were often little incidents, when he stayed with friends during school holidays. Money disappeared, tennis rackets vanished mysteriously, and seemed to be missing when he left. Clothes were borrowed and never returned. Once a gold watch seemed to evaporate into thin air, and a sobbing maid was fired as a result. As it so happened, it was later discovered, Peter had been sleeping with her. He was sixteen at the time, and the proceeds from the watch that he had talked her into pilfering for him had kept him going for six months. His life was a constant struggle to come up with enough money to cover his needs. And he did whatever he had to do to meet those needs. He was so kind, polite, and pleasant to have around, that he always appeared innocent when things went sour. It was impossible to believe that a boy like him could be guilty of any misdeed or crime.

At one point, a school psychologist suggested that Peter had sociopathic tendencies, which even the headmaster found hard to believe. The psychologist had wisely surmised that under the veneer, he appeared to have less of a conscience than he should. And the veneer was incredibly appealing. It was hard to know who Peter really was beneath the surface. Above all, he was a survivor. He was a charming, bright, good-looking kid, who had had a bunch of rotten breaks in his life. He had no one to rely on but himself, and deep at his core, he had been wounded. His parents' deaths, his stepfather's distancing himself from him, and giving him almost no money, the two siblings he never saw once they were sent to different boarding schools on the East Coast, had all taken a toll on him. And later, once in college, the news that his eighteen-year-old sister had drowned was yet another blow to a young soul already battered. He rarely talked about the experiences he'd had, or the sorrows that had resulted from them, and on the whole, he appeared to be a level-headed, optimistic, good-natured guy, who could charm just about anyone, and often did. But life had been far from easy for him, although to look at him, you'd never know it. There was no visible evidence of the agonies he'd been through. The scars were far deeper and well hidden.

Women fell into his hands like fruit off trees, and men found him good company. He drank a lot in college, friends remembered later on, but he never seemed out of control, and wasn't. Not obviously at least. The wounds on Peter's soul were deep, and hidden.

Peter Morgan was all about control. And he always had a plan. His stepfather lived up to his promise, and sent him to Duke, and from there he got a full scholarship to Harvard Business School, and graduated with an MBA. He had all the tools he needed, along with a fine mind, good looks, and some valuable connections he'd made in the elite schools he had attended. It seemed an absolute certainty that he was someone who would go far. There was no question in anyone's mind that Peter Morgan would succeed. He was a genius with money, or so it seemed, and he had a multitude of plans. He got a job on Wall Street when he graduated, in a brokerage firm, and it was two years after he graduated that things started to go wrong. He broke some rules, churned some accounts, "borrowed" a little money. Things got dicey for him for a while, and then, as usual, he landed on his feet. He went to work for an investment banking firm, and appeared to be the golden boy of Wall Street for a brief time. He had everything it took to make a success of his life, except a family and a conscience. Peter always had a scheme, and a plan to get to the finish line faster. He had learned one thing from his childhood, that life could fall apart in an instant, and he had to take care of himself. There were few, if any, lucky breaks in life. And whatever luck there was, you made yourself.

At twenty-nine, he married Janet, a dazzling debutante, who happened to be the daughter of the head of the firm where he worked, and within two years, they had two adorable little girls. It was the perfect life, he loved his wife and was crazy about his kids. It looked like a long stretch of smooth road ahead of him finally, when for no reason anyone could fathom, things started to go wrong again. All he talked about was making a lot of money, and seemed obsessed with that idea, whatever it took. Some thought he was having too much fun. It was all too easy for him. He had fallen into a golden life, played too hard, got greedy, and inch by inch, he let life get out of control. In the end, his shortcuts and old habit of taking what he wanted did him in. He started cutting corners and making shaky deals, nothing he could be fired for, but nothing his father-in-law wanted to tolerate either. Peter appeared to be on a fast track, heading for danger. Peter and his father-in-law had several serious talks, while walking the grounds of his parents-in-law's estate in Connecticut, and Janet's father thought he had made the point. To put it simply, he had tried to point out to Peter that there was no such thing as a free lunch or an express train to success. He warned him that the kind of deals he was making, and the sources he used, would come back to haunt him one day. Possibly even very soon. He lectured him about the importance of integrity, and felt sure that Peter would heed him. He liked him. In fact, all he succeeded in doing was make Peter feel anxious and pressured.

At thirty-one, first for the "fun of it," Peter started doing drugs. There was no real harm in it, he claimed, everyone was doing them, and it made everything more amusing and exciting. Janet was worried sick about it. By thirty-two, Peter Morgan was in big trouble, losing control over his drug habit, despite his protests to the contrary, and started running through his wife's money, until his father-in-law cut him off. A year later, he was asked to leave the firm, and his wife moved in with her parents, devastated and traumatized by the experiences she'd had at Peter's hands. He was never abusive to her, but he was constantly high on cocaine, and his life was completely out of control. It was then that her father discovered the debts he'd incurred, the money he'd "discreetly" embezzled from the firm, and given their relationship with him, and the potential embarrassment to them, and Janet, they covered his debts. He agreed to give Janet full custody of the girls, who were by then two and three. He lost his visiting rights subsequently, over an incident involving him, three women, and a large stash of cocaine on a yacht off East Hampton. His children had been visiting him at the time. The nanny had called Janet on her cell phone from the boat. And Janet had threatened to call the Coast Guard on him. He got the nanny and the girls off the boat, and Janet wouldn't let him see them again. But by then he had other problems. He had borrowed massive amounts of money to support his drug habit, and lost what money he had on high-risk investments in the commodities market. After that, no matter how good his credentials, or how smart he was, he couldn't get a job. And just as his mother had before she died, he spiraled down. He was not only short of money, but addicted to drugs.

Two years after Janet left him, he tried to get a job with a well-known venture capital firm in San Francisco, and couldn't. He was in San Francisco by then anyway, and settled into selling cocaine instead. He was thirty-five years old, and had half the world after him for bad debts, when he was arrested for possession of a massive amount of cocaine with intent to sell. He had been making a fortune at it, but owed five times as much when he was arrested, and had some frightening debts to some very dangerous people. As people who knew him said when they heard, he had had everything going for him, and managed to blow all of it to kingdom come. He was in debt for a fortune, in danger of being killed by the dealers who sold to him, and the people behind the scenes who financed them, when he was arrested. He had paid no one back. He didn't have the money to do it. Most of the time, in cases like that, when people went to prison, the debts were canceled, if not forgotten. In dire cases, people got killed in prison for them. Or if you were lucky, they let it go. Peter hoped that would be the case.

When Peter Morgan went to prison, he hadn't seen his children in two years, and wasn't likely to again. He sat stone-faced through his trial, and sounded intelligent and remorseful when he took the stand. His lawyer tried to get him probation, but the judge was smarter than that. He had seen people like Peter before, though not many, and certainly not one who'd had as many opportunities that he'd blown. He had read Peter well, and saw that there was something disturbing about him. His appearance and his actions didn't seem to fit. The judge didn't buy the pat phrases of remorse that Peter parroted. He seemed smooth, but not sincere. He was likable certainly, but the choices he'd made were appalling. And when the jury found him guilty, the judge sentenced him to seven years in prison, and sent him to Pelican Bay, in Crescent City, a maximum security prison, inhabited by 3,300 of the worst felons in the California prison system, three hundred and seventy miles north of San Francisco, eleven miles from the Oregon border. It seemed like an unduly harsh sentence for Peter and not where he belonged.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 25 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 25 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2012

    Lle

    P

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2010

    Highly Recommend A must read book

    Excellent book. I couldn't put it down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2009

    Ransom

    reading now. so far a very good book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2007

    When Does Something Finally Happen?

    This is my first Danielle Steel book and I was very disappointed. I read about two-thirds of the book and nothing had moved the story forward. I finally decided to put it down and move on to another book. The writing was poorly done and extremely repetitive, the characters all seemed to have the same characteristics and mannerisms, and the story line did not hold my attention.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2007

    I LOVE D.S.

    This book kept my attention and had my heart racing one minute me crying the next.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2005

    A NEW FAN

    This was my second book by this author. I thought the book was a bit wordy, but I finally finished reading it after a week. I was somewhat disappointed.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2005

    Repetitive lacking plot

    The reason this author is so prolific is that her books are becoming very repetitive in the content. She says the same thing over and over with no character building and a predictible plot. Read the first 10 pages of Ransom and the last ten and you have the whole book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2005

    MY FAVORITE

    This book was Danielle Steel meets Mary Higgins Clark. If you don't like some mystery you won't enjoy it. It was not boring and very easy to get into. I am a HUGE Danielle Steel fan and although this is very different from most of her other books, it is my favorite thus far!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2004

    BORING

    This story could have been told in about 100 pages or less. This book has way too many words and is quite redundant. It was very predictable from page one and I would not have read page two if I had not paid for the book. Definitely not one of her best works. Perhaps Danielle needs a change of pace or a vacation from writing for now.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2004

    Not one of her better books

    This book isn't keeping my interest at all. I'll read a chapter or two and then put it down. I'm only half way through it and can't wait until I'm done. The problem is that I can't get excited to pick it up and finnish it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2004

    hard to get into

    This was not one of Danielle's best. It was very wordy and hard to read Did not hold my interest at all. Definite snooze! Skip it and get her newer one coming out. Everyone is entitled to a mistake here and there, especially with the number of books she puts out.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2004

    Awesome!!!!

    I just read her book and like many other readers, I am a huge fan of Danielle Steel. This book is the greatest and kept me reading till the end!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2004

    AWESOME BOOK

    I am a huge Danielle Steele fan. I love all her books- this is one of her best. I read it in 2 days. Can't wait until another one comes out. She gets better and better!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2004

    It doesn't make sense.

    I don't understand. FBI and police knew that Peter was involved kidnapping, why they did not go after him after Sam got kidnapped. It doesn't make sense at all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2004

    She's done it again

    I am a huge Danielle Steele fan, and if you are too, you won't be disappointed with 'Ransom.' Great read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2004

    another danielle steel great

    she is a wonderful writer everytime another book comes out you think how could it be as good as the last one.........well they keep getting better......ransom was scary at one point, heartbreaking and romantic......a great read!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2004

    IM A HUGE FAN OF HER BOOKS

    I LOVE READING HER BOOKS THEY ARE THE BEST I EVER READ AND I WILL KEEP ON READING THEM FOR EVER.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2004

    WAITING FOR THE NEXT ONE

    AS ALWAYS OUTSTANDING. I ENJOY ALL OF HER BOOKS.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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