Pleasant enough but curiously dull, with few surprises and little suspense. Best for those greatly devoted to love stories...

ELEANOR & ABEL

Love among the geezers, rather staidly told but touching nonetheless, by Texas author Sanford (Crossing Shattuck Bridge, 1999, etc.).

Eleanor Bannister, 69, is a recently retired schoolteacher who remembers practically everyone in her small hometown of Grover, Texas, from the days when they struggled through the alphabet in her classroom. It’s like a maternity of sorts, and it seems to have saved the single and childless Eleanor from the fussy eccentricities so often associated with spinsterhood. But Eleanor is an Old Maid all the same, and the rhythms of her life—church on Sunday, gossip with her friend Grace, corn flakes for dinner—suggest a familiar solitude that expects no further surprises from life. Eleanor is unprepared, then, for the arrival of Abel Brown, an itinerant 70-year-old carpenter who lives in a trailer and shows up at the door one day asking Eleanor to rent him the rundown cottage she owns across town. When she refuses (on the grounds that she’s planning to sell it), Abel promptly offers to fix it up for her so that she can get a better price. It’s less trouble to agree with Abel than to argue with him, so Eleanor does—and begins a new and wholly unexpected friendship that soon blossoms into romance. By the time Abel has finished the repairs, he and Eleanor are deeply in love. What’s to stop them from getting married? Nothing at all—although the arrival of Abel’s ten-year-old granddaughter (who comes to stay with him while her mother goes looking for her errant husband) complicates things a bit. But Eleanor takes in both Abel and the girl and sets up something she has never had since her parents died—a home.

Pleasant enough but curiously dull, with few surprises and little suspense. Best for those greatly devoted to love stories in the Bridges of Madison County vein.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 1-58243-273-2

Page Count: 188

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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A smooth blend of suspense and romance. As ever, the author's trademark effortless style keeps a complex plot moving without...

THE VILLA

Megaselling Roberts (River's End, 1999, etc.) goes to Napa Valley for the tale of an Italian-American family wine producers rocked by scandal and a series of murders.

Dynasty head Tereza Giambelli knows that her granddaughter Sophia is the only family member capable of running a multimillion-dollar wine business—and no one contradicts La Signora. It's just as well the lovely young woman is still single: Tereza has plans for her. The matriarch has recently married Eli MacMillan, the American founder of another famous wine company. Eli's grandson Tyler knows everything there is to know about producing wine, from the vineyard to the vat. Ruggedly handsome, intelligent and earthy, he's a perfect match for public-relations whiz Sophia—or so thinks Tereza. The two young people begin to work together; Tyler teaches Sophia the fine art of making wine and making love. But other family members hope to claim their share of the Giambelli fortune, and people start dying mysteriously, including Sophia's good-for-nothing father, Tony Avano. Long divorced from long-suffering Pilar Giambelli, Tony led an opulent, self-indulgent life that provides plenty of murder suspects. He might have been killed by the mob, or a jealous mistress, or his spoiled brother-in-law, Tereza's lazy son, who's produced a passel of brats with his foolish Italian wife in the hopes of making Tereza happy. Everyone has a motive, and nothing is what it seems, Sophia discovers, but Tyler stands by her. Then a bottle of tainted merlot kills a company exec. A tragic mishap caused by poisonous plants growing near the vines? Or deliberate product tampering intended to destroy the company? Sophia and Tyler will need to delve even deeper into the convoluted and sometimes unsavory history of the family and its three-generation business.

A smooth blend of suspense and romance. As ever, the author's trademark effortless style keeps a complex plot moving without a hitch.

Pub Date: March 19, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-14712-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

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