by Barbara SamuelJanuary, 2008
Romance for grownups
There are few romance writers with the clear-sighted wit and warmth of Connie Brockway, a talent she showcases beautifully in Skinny Dipping. Mimi Olsen has dedicated her life to never getting too invested in anything, which includes people, animals, career paths and families. She does have a regrettable fondness for a family compound on a marsh lake in Minnesota, and is not entirely happy that the family wants to sell the place, but even that can't rouse the unrousable Mimi. That task is given to a geeky neighbor who has built an eyesore of a McMansion on the lakefront, ruining the view and helping drive up local real estate prices. But something happened to Mimi a year or so ago that's put her on a course toward reckoning with herself and her past she might even get to the point of wanting to make something of herself. None of this has anything to do with Joe Tierney, a germaphobic, GQ ad of a businessman who is as driven as Mimi is laidback. Throw in two sets of relatives, eccentrics both old and young and a pack of dogs, and you've got a rollicking, page-turner of a romance about two people at midlife ready or not to makes some changes for love. Funny, piercing and highly readable.
SECRETS ON SUMMER STREET
Past Secrets by Cathy Kelly is the latest offering from one of Ireland's favorites. Summer Street is a pleasant community of neighbors in Dublin where goodness and good intentions still can't protect you from the vagaries of life, like falling in love unexpectedly, or keeping secrets from those you love the most with sometimes devastating effects. Christie Devlin lives at number 34, where the garden she's created out of nothing is the envy of everyone who sees it, along with her strong, happy marriage to James. A cloud is looming on the horizon, however, in the form of a dashing figure from Christie's past, a figure who could threaten everything and bring her world crumbling around her. At number 32, hard-working single mum Faye Reid is devastated when her daughter Amber bright and talented flings away her future for the love of a ragged musician. And at number 48, Maggie Maguire has come home to her parents after the collapse of her long-term live-in relationship with a dashing Galway professor. Tenderly rendered, surprisingly earthy at times, Past Secrets is a delightful story about good people trying to get it right.
MURDER AND MASQUERADES
The second in a trilogy, Heart of Fire by Kat Martin continues the story of the Heart to Heart newspaper gang. When society columnist Coralee Whitmore's sister drowns under mysterious circumstances, the death is declared a suicide, but Coralee knows her sister would never kill herself. Donning the identity of a distant cousin in reduced circumstances to the notorious Earl of Tremaine, Coralee travels to his country estate to throw herself on his mercy. The Earl knows there is something fishy going on with the maid from York things don't quite add up but he's willing to play along because he finds the chit so very appealing. And to his surprise, he falls in love. When Coralee's true identity as a viscount's daughter is revealed, the Earl's heart hardens, and her heart is broken, but circumstances require they marry. Meanwhile, a murderer is still on the loose, and where is that missing child? Emotionally intense, sexy and full of twists and turns, this is a historical novel you will not want to miss.
A TASTE OF LOVE
Last up is a breezy tale of two chefs battling it out in a Brooklyn neighborhood. Just a Taste by Deirdre Martin stirs together two unlikely lovers Italian-American Anthony Dante, whose Bensonhurst restaurant is a neighborhood icon, and French import Vivi Robitaille, who has come to America to open a restaurant where she can be taken seriously as a woman chef. Although food is meant to be the centerpiece of the novel, it is the refreshing setting of Brooklyn, and the surprise of an immigrant Frenchwoman as heroine, that make this such an agreeable read.