Every Danielle Steel Novel Summarized in 140 Characters or Less

Images via Cyrus Webb & DaniellSteel.com
Inspired by the column that almost became a segment on the Queen Latifah Show: Every Stephen King Novel Summarized in 140 Characters or Less by Max Booth III

Say you wanted to get into Danielle Steel and didn't know where to start. Either because you're a masochist or you're a writer who wants to emulate her success. Or maybe you're just curious as to why Grammy liked her books so much, and demanded her coffin be filled with them when she was buried. It doesn't matter. I'm not here to judge. I'm here to help.

Since publishing her first novel in 1973, the famous romance author has been highly prolific, writing almost as many books as marriages she's burned through. We're talking up to three of four a year, people. She has a reputation for writing "formulaic fluff," but is considered the best selling novelist currently alive, with over 800 million books sold, so she must be doing something right. Still, for the late-comer, choosing your first Steel is a daunting task. Which is why I took the liberty of summarizing every one of her 100 plus novels.

Three interns died while researching this article. Their efforts were not in vain. I feel like I've really come to understand Steel and her work because of it. I hope you find this overview helpful.

Going Home (1973)

A woman faces a crisis that threatens her relationship—being in a relationship with an asshole.

Passion's Promise (US) / Golden Moments (UK) (1977)

A rich bitch socialite leading a double life as a journalist falls for an ex-con dedicated to social justice. A crisis threatens their love.

Now and Forever (1978)

A proto-hipster's financial dependence on his wife's chic boutique leads to a crisis that threatens their relationship.

The Promise (1978)

A hip couple are determined to get married, despite familial disapproval. A terrifying crisis separates them, but can it keep them apart?

Season of Passion (1979)

A woman faces a crisis when her boyfriend finds out she is still married to a football player who shot himself and became a vegetable.

Summer's End (1979)

A woman in a seemingly perfect marriage faces a crisis. Her life is as boring as this book sounds.

The Ring (1980)

A young woman faces the biggest relationship crisis of them all—the fucking holocaust.

Palomino (1981)

A woman flees a shitty relationship for a ranch. Cowgirl meets cowboy. Their relationship faces a crippling crisis (she falls off a horse).

To Love Again (1981)

A woman flees to New York with her son after her perfect relationship is torn apart by the crisis of terrorism. Will she ever love again?

Remembrance (1981)

An Italian princess loses it all in World War II, but faces her greatest relationship crisis in the high stakes world of Manhattan fashion.

Loving (1981)

A young party girl must marry an old man when her famous author dad drops dead after squandering the family fortune. Talk about a crisis!

Once in a Lifetime (1982)

The J.D. Salinger of romance novels is fiercely private about her personal life, which is filled with all manner of secret crises.

Crossings (1982)

World War II plays matchmaker between a young woman married to a much older man and a kindly steel magnate trapped in a loveless marriage.

A Perfect Stranger (1983)

Cousin Balki desperately searches for the mysterious daughter of a European banking dynasty, who he saw sitting alone one misty evening.

Thurston House (1983)

A single dad learns to balance running his mining dynasty and raising an infant daughter despite earthquakes and the Great Depression.

Changes (1983)

A transatlantic version of the Brady Bunch starring an anchorwoman and a famous heart surgeon.

Full Circle (1984)

A young woman comes of age against the backdrop of the turbulent 60s. Nam, JFK, MLK. The 'We Didn't Start the Fire' of Danielle Steel novels.

Family Album (1985)

The story of a successful actress who goes on to shit out a bunch of kids before becoming Hollywood's first female director. True story.

Secrets (1985)

Steel goes from the big screen to the small screen in this ensemble farce about the production of a television show. Wackiness ensues.

Wanderlust (1986)

From the big screen to the small screen to the even smaller viewfinder, a shutterbug orphan traverses the globe in this epic bildungsroman.

Fine Things (1987)

A department store VP falls in love with a five year old girl and marries her mother. The woman then ruins his life by dying of cancer.

Kaleidoscope (1987)

The extraordinary tale of three war orphans who overcome their past only to face off against a myriad of first world problems.

Zoya (1988)

Is there anything this novel doesn't have? Love, loss, war, ballet, flappers, prohibition, crisis, the 80s. Put that in your book and read it!

Star (1989)

Steel goes back to the ranch, kills the father of another beautiful girl, and eventually makes her a star. Why must you play God, Steel!

Daddy (1989)

The story of Annie, an orphan from New York City who is taken in by America's richest billionaire, Oliver Warbucks.

Message From Nam (1990)

Based on the Marvel comic book series The 'Nam, we follow Private Joker and his platoon through basic training and the Tet Offensive.

Heartbeat (1991)

Based on the song by Don Johnson, Heartbeat tells the age old story of a creepy movie producer falling for a hot young production assistant.

No Greater Love (1991)

The basis for James Cameron's blockbuster film Titanic, in which we learn what Rose did all those years after Jack died, in painstaking detail.

Jewels (1992)

The culturally insensitive tale of a survivor of the Nazi occupation of France who goes on to become a successful jeweler.

Mixed Blessings (1992)

Three couples attempt to make babies with mixed results in this joyless-sex filled romp.

Vanished (1993)

Danielle steel kills more babies than SIDS in this retelling of the Lindbergh kidnapping.

Accident (1994)

A less sexy, more weepy version of J.G. Ballard's Crash.

The Gift (1994)

The one where you see Katie Holmes's boobies.

Wings (1994)

Two brothers attempt to run a one-plane New England airline with hilarious results.

Lightning (1995)

Literal and figurative lightning strikes put a New York power couple's relationship to the test. POWER couple, get it? High voltage!

Five Days In Paris (1995)

A man becomes dissatisfied with life in the present after repeated trips back in time to hobnob it up in roaring 20s Paris

Malice (1996)

What the publisher's synopses don't tell you is, how much violence against women are in these fluffy popcorn books. Like, a lot.

Silent Honor (1996)


The Ranch (1997)

A spiritual sequel to both Palomino and Star. Equus meets Cormac McCarthy by way of Newman's Own.

Special Delivery (1997)

A widower and an aging playboy find love in the least likely of places—their 50s! Then they find a child in her vagina.

The Ghost (1997)

A lonely architect rents a remote, lakeside chateau, where he falls in love with a 200 year old lady-ghost that cusses like a sailor.

The Long Road Home (1998)

A shitty life provides fodder for a young writer: She's beat by her mom, knocked up by a suicidal priest, and dates a guy who kills her mentor.

The Klone and I (1998)

Steel explores two new genres at once—science fiction and comedy—in this hilarious love triangle between man, woman and klone (with a K!).

Mirror Image (1998)

A novel based on the famous optical illusion Rubin's Vase—is it a piece of objet d'art or two hot chicks (who happen to be sisters) making out?

Bittersweet (1999)

Interchangeable female character faces hardship at the hands of some male jerk, possibly in a period setting. Groove-getting-back ensues.

Granny Dan (1999)

What if you found out your grandmother had a secret past—a life as a Danielle Steel protagonist? This is that story.

Irresistible Forces (1999)

Steel's life-affirmingest novel yet is very much about the tides of our times, if our times were the 1990s. Jncos and Cross Colours abound.

The Wedding (2000)

What, does she just pick characters and plot points from her previous books out of a hat? This is getting tough.

The House On Hope Street (2000)

A reworking of the poorly received House on Pessimism Ave.

Journey (2000)

Another anchorwoman! Another television exec! More domestic abuse. Another kind-hearted stranger from the past.

Lone Eagle (2001)

Steel's first foray into Native American folklore, inspired by her discovery that she is 1/64th Cherokee.

Leap Of Faith (2001)

The one where Steve Martin plays a televangelist who gets more than he bargains for when he tries to rook a small Kansas town.

The Kiss (2001)

If you so much as kiss someone other than your spouse, you will instantly get run over by a double-decker bus. The end.

The Cottage (2002)

An aging male star opens his home and his heart when he is forced to rent his Hollywood fuck pad. A very platonic story of male friendship.

Sunset in St. Tropez (2002)

Three couples, best friends, decide to go troppo like George Harrison after the wife of The Cure lead singer Robert Smith dies.

Answered Prayers (2002)

Over a decade to go. Kill me. Please.

Dating Game (2003)

After a surprise divorce, a woman moves West because "there's gold in them thar hills." She proceeds to have sex with lots and lots of gold.

Johnny Angle (2003)

Two rays sharing a common endpoint are involved in a tragic prom night car accident.

Safe Harbour (2003)

Tragedy strikes and a life is rebuilt within a cozy British body of water along the shore situated to provide protection from wind and wave.

Ransom (2004)

Airline owner Tom Mullen turns the table on his son's kidnappers by making the ransom a bounty on their heads—which he announces on national TV.

Second Chance (2004)

Enough shit happens in the first third to constitute an entire novel, then the thing goes off the rails and on for hundreds of pages.

Echoes (2004)

Coincidentally syncs with Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey when read during the final segment, "Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite."

Impossible (2005)

Take it from MC Skat Kat: Two steps forward, two steps back. Yuppie falls for hippie cuz opposites attract. Steel's first "natural fact" novel.

Miracle (2005)

The 1980 US men's hockey team finds love during Stephen King's Storm of the Century.

Toxic Bachelors (2005)

The story of a bunch of horrible people who all deserve to get AIDS.

The House (2006)

Norm from Cheers and six little girls move into his aunt's haunted house in the Japanese countryside. A shenaniganza ensues.

Coming Out (2006)

Gay men with horrible taste in literature, Danielle Steel has finally written a book for you.

H.R.H. (2006)

A novelist falls asleep on her keyboard typing the title of her latest, proving once again this crap will sell no matter what you call it.

Sisters (2007)

Do yourself a favor, tear out all the pages from your other D.S. novels and shuffle them together. The plot will be just as coherent.

Bungalow 2 (2007)

The sequel nobody wanted—to a book that was never published!

Amazing Grace (2007)

Steel misses a Golden Gate opportunity to name one of the zillion protagonists in this book Grace. I bet one of them has a baby named Grace.

Honor Thyself (2008)

Is anyone even still reading this?

Rogue (2008)

A woman finds it hard to resist her charming rake of an ex-husband, despite the fact that he can't touch her without gloves.

A Good Woman (2008)

The sinking of the Titanic shatters a woman's world. Seriously, didn't she write this one already?

One Day at a Time (2009)

A divorced mom raising two teen girls in Indianapolis is torn between her handsome young neighbor and the building's quirky superintendent.

Matters Of The Heart (2009)

A powerful, independent woman falls in love with a sociopath who causes her to doubt herself. Now with even more domestic violence!

Southern Lights (2009)

A woman flees her demons to become Assistant DA, only to face an even bigger demon—a murderous serial rapist. Ex don't seem so bad now, does he?

Big Girl (2010)

Steel moves into the 21st Century with her first book NOT about some skinny-ass hot bitch.

Family Ties (2010)

The proprietor of a family-run haberdashery must compete with the big box stores. (Bet you thought I was gonna make an Alex P. Keaton joke, didn't ya?)

Legacy (2010)

No longer content to traverse decades, this novel spans centuries. CENTURIES!

44 Charles Street (2011)

A group of straight women sharing a West Village apartment look for love and become best friends. Has Steel even BEEN to the West Village?

Happy Birthday (2011)

Running out of steam here. Throw me a bone, Steel. An AIDS baby or a down syndrome romance. Anything!

Hotel Vendome (2011)

A young girl experiences the upstairs/downstairs world of hotel life. Sounds awful. I'd rather live in Hotel Videodrome.

Betrayal (2012)

Someone... faces something... the dark side... glitz... glamor... zzz...

Friends Forever (2012)

Five kids meet in kindergarten and become friends for life. Then they realize that some of them are foxes and some of them are hounds.

The Sins of the Mother (2012)

A successful businesswoman misses out on her children’s lives while building her legendary home-furnishings empire. WTF? Worst. Mom. Ever.

A Gift of Hope (2012)

Hope is an underage Chechen stripper sold into white slavery.

Until the End of Time (2013)

What is: How long this article is taking? How long D.S. will keep writing? (Seriously, I think she's a vampire.)

First Sight (2013)

True story of the world's first website, created by 60-year-old British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee in 1990 while working at CERN.

Odd Thomas (2013)

Adult Haley Joel Osment tries to run a successful psychic detective agency while also romancing a girl who got her name off a cocktail napkin.

Power Play (2014)

NOT a hockey novel.

A Perfect Life (2014)

Classic Steel, so... lots of victimized women.

Pegasus (2014)

A young woman gets the ride of her life when she befriends a lonely pegasus.

Prodigal Son (2015)

A story of twin vs. twin, good vs. evil, clean shaven vs. facial hair.

Country (2015)

A woman meets a country star, so you know he's gotta beat her.

Undercover (2015)

True story of Keith Bulfin, a conservative dad drawn into a world of drug smuggling and violence by the DEA, which sucks for his social life.

Precious Gifts (2015)

A woman spends 500 pages getting the shit kicked out of her by the man she loves, only to learn that life is a precious gift.

Blue (2016)

Was Steel an anchorman in a past life? The legend continues.

Property of a Noble Woman (2016)

The riveting tale of a small patch of land in the British countryside neglected by its upper-class owner.

The Apartment (2016)

Come on! This one hasn't even come out yet!

Magic (2016)

This one either!

Rushing Waters (2016)

What I wish I was drowning under instead of doing this assignment.

The Award (2016)

This one doesn't even have a cover on Amazon. I swear, she is writing these in the future and sending them back in time.

Any big Steel fans out there? What are your favorite novels? Sound off in the comments. Now if you'll excuse me...

<loads gun, spins chamber>

Joshua Chaplinsky

Column by Joshua Chaplinsky

Joshua Chaplinsky is the Managing Editor of LitReactor. He is the author of The Paradox Twins (CLASH Books), the story collection Whispers in the Ear of A Dreaming Ape, and the parody Kanye West—Reanimator. His short fiction has been published by Vice, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Thuglit, Severed Press, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, Broken River Books, and more. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @jaceycockrobin. More info at joshuachaplinsky.com and unravelingtheparadox.com.

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Max's picture
Max from Texas is reading goosebumps April 1, 2016 - 11:54am

pretty sure Steven King wrote Odd Thomas otherwise pretty OK

Jason Van Horn's picture
Jason Van Horn from North Carolina is reading A Feast For Crows April 1, 2016 - 1:30pm

I quit reading after seeing the word "crisis" for the 100th time!

Johannes Lilja's picture
Johannes Lilja April 1, 2016 - 2:24pm

Nah, Koontz wrote Odd Thomas. Byt maybe Koontz and Steel are in fact the same? But again, maybe not. Who knows? Probably a lot of people.

Tony Bulmer's picture
Tony Bulmer April 2, 2016 - 12:27pm


mcjecca's picture
mcjecca April 4, 2016 - 7:49am

I'm not a Danielle Steel fan, but there are enough out there that she's sold 800 million books--and that's okay. You could have fun with a project like this without being so brazenly dismissive of an entire genre. The Stephen King article that this was based on was done in good fun. The writer of that article acknowledged being a King fan, but here the tone is nothing but "Why would anyone be a Danielle Steel fan??" without even giving her a chance. 

Debbie Ayton's picture
Debbie Ayton February 21, 2018 - 5:47am

I just tried to read a Danielle Steel novel. First one l think as l don't recall ever reading a book as bad as this. And l have read a lot of books in my lifetime. But maybe this was the worst Danielle Steel novel, which l was unlucky enough to choose. It's the one about the overweight daughter with a big nose, who is picked on by her narcissistic father, and in the end she has a nose job. However going by this article l would guess that they are all the same? So who would want to give her a chance?
It is unfathomable how this author could sell one book, let alone 800 million!?

Considering that l am not a multi million book seller, and only ever (self) published one book, and never had any novel l wrote made into a movie, what do l know?

HappyWife's picture
HappyWife December 19, 2019 - 10:23am

I just finished reading "Summer's End". You could have easily substituted your opening synopsis for this one as well. The main character's marriage was not perfect, unless being surrounded by wealth makes marriage to a cheating asshole otherwise palpable. Danielle Steel novels are my escape, and, as a writer myself, I especially love how I walk away KNOWING that if her garbage is publishable, then ANYTHING is truly possible. The books both numb and stretch my mind. But please, don't tell anyone else that I said this.