Another over-the-top romantic suspense novel from the author of It All Began In Monte Carlo (2010, etc.).
Following the collapse of her 16-year marriage to wealthy businessman James Evans, divorcee Caroline Evans and her sullen teenage daughter travel the English countryside searching for a new home. Having lived a life of leisure in Singapore, but now low on funds and quite determined to carve out a new life, Caroline buys an old ramshackle place that was once a bar and grill. Caroline, a trained chef, finds rooms and employment at a local establishment while renovation work is done on her place, and she and the proprietors become fast friends. As work on her property progresses, the complications and stereotypical characters begin to pile up while the beautiful Caroline collects suitors. A rain-soaked James appears on her doorstep and then quickly disappears as Caroline’s attraction to a younger man heats up. James’ business partner, who has loved her for years, invests in her business, and a gruff yet protective Russian artisan pursues her. James—Caroline was his third wife—wasn’t exactly faithful during his marriage to her. In addition to his liaison with a younger woman named Melanie, James also has a relationship with a Chinese businesswoman, Gayle Lee Chen, who has steered him into the seamy underbelly of Singapore’s criminal life. Issy, too, is struggling with typical teenage problems, but, luckily, Caroline’s hip, wise and extremely understanding parents step in to provide guidance. Adler, a veteran writer, pens beautifully descriptive phrases depicting the setting and the physical details of the book’s many characters, but one important element of the story falls short: an improbable plot that’s padded with references to money laundering, Ponzi schemes, Chinese mobsters and suspicious deaths, among the mawkish lessons about love and forgiveness.
Adler, much like an inexperienced cook, has thrown everything she finds into the pot. Instead of creating a reasonably tasty dish, she’s dished up some unpalatable mush.