A lovable heroine and an engaging cast of eccentrics makes for a cheerful summer read.

WHEN IN DOUBT, ADD BUTTER

Carried by an appealing narrator, this latest from the bestselling author of Shoe Addicts Anonymous (2007, etc.) features the exploits of a personal chef and her collection of oddball clients.

Gemma Craig is 38 and single. And that’s okay. She’s not sure she has what it takes for a long-term relationship (she averages two months), and anyway, she is satisfied with her life: friends, family and a career she enjoys. As a personal chef in D.C., she has a string of clients that both amuse her and keep her solvent. Mondays are the Van Houghtens—restricted diet, no flavor, neurotic wife. Tuesday is “Mr. Tuesday,” a client she has only met through addictively cheeky notes. Then there’s Lex, a gallant older bachelor who owns a department store. Thursdays are the Olekseis, a large Russian family that may have ties to the Russian Mafia; for all Gemma knows, they could head the Russian Mafia. Fridays are filled by Lex’s overweight niece Willa, a shut-in who has made a fortune from online poker. This no-strings-attached nurturing suits Gemma, until she meets Mack. The two have a memorable night, but they part without the essentials—names and numbers—which seemed a little pointless in the midst of all that passion. A watery mistake blurs Mack’s goodbye note and number, and that’s that. Gemma can’t help but revisit that night in her fantasies, even though she has more urgent concerns: she’s losing her weekend catering jobs and thinks Mrs. Van Houghten is sabotaging her business. And she’s also found out...well, let's just say things get complicated. 

A lovable heroine and an engaging cast of eccentrics makes for a cheerful summer read.

Pub Date: July 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-59909-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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