A small-town tale of romance and corruption.
Hinske’s (Coming to Rosemont, 2012) second novel delves further into the adventures of Maggie Martin, a forensic accountant–turned–reluctant mayor of Westbury, a Norman Rockwell–esque Midwestern town—at least on the surface. Maggie, who in the previous book won the election with a last-minute write-in campaign, must now pick up the pieces after the previous mayor embezzled from the city treasury. Unfortunately, the solution likely involves cuts to employee salaries and pensions, which has made Maggie unpopular with constituents. Plus, she suspects that several council members might still be playing fast and loose with the town’s funds. She finds solace in Rosemont, the beautiful estate left to her by her dead husband, and her relationship with local vet Dr. John Allen. But Maggie devotes so much time to her mayoral duties that she neglects John, and the relationship sours. The corruption angle takes a back seat to various romances, from spunky Maggie’s evolving relationship with John to her daughter Susan’s budding affair with a young doctor to the sweet saga of elderly Glenn and Gloria, who fall in love as they fight to save their retirement community (which is facing foreclosure due to the town’s financial troubles). Meanwhile, the question of what’s really going on with the town’s finances remains unanswered, despite the appearance of mysterious papers in a dusty attic, a murder staged to look like a suicide and a corrupt council member with a propensity for violence. Hinske has an appealing heroine in Maggie, a middle-aged woman with a zest for living; she’s now struggling to find her footing after some major, and unexpected, personal changes. But the novel is stuffed with secondary characters and subplots, and many of the major conflicts are left unresolved, leaving readers hanging for the series’ third installment. Still, things move along at a pleasantly fast clip, and the dialogue jumps from the page. Evocative details and scenes bring the story to life, such as a big family Thanksgiving dinner and Maggie’s successful (and amusing) foray into online dating.
A charming, if uneven, romance with a memorable leading lady.