Energetic melodrama in straightforward style from the ever-popular Michaels (Plain Jane, 2001, etc.).

LATE BLOOMER

Just what did happen under the Judas tree so long ago?

Cady Jordan suffered a head injury when she flew through the air on a bicycle attached to a cable slung from the Judas tree—and, years later, she still doesn’t remember much about it. Her childhood buddies dared her to do it, and someone threw a rock that killed Jeff King, the neighborhood bully, who jumped on the bike with her at the last minute. The papers had a field day, even accusing ten-year-old Cady of killing teenaged Jeff, but the case was never resolved. Partially paralyzed for three years after the accident, Cady presently lives alone, in California, writing technical manuals for a living. Now, 20 years later, her ailing grandmother, a former movie star who took a stage name so as not to embarrass the strait-laced family, summons Cady to her Pennsylvania mansion. Cady gets a German shepherd for company and drives off to meet her legendary grandmother. Lola turns out to be quite a character, of course, at once imperious, kind, loving, self-absorbed, etc. She’s buried six husbands and is bedridden with osteoporosis, but she’s determined to help her granddaughter find happiness. When Cady’s friends hear she’s back in town, they convene to rehash the old case, well aware that they’d let everyone think Cady was the guilty party. Andy and Amy Hollister say they were throwing rocks to get Jeff away from Cady. Peter, a lawyer, doesn’t think they can prove it. Boomer Maxwell, now chief of police, gets involved, and the small town is abuzz as reporter Larry Denville digs through old clippings and investigates up a storm. At long last, the culprit feels remorse, tries to wash away the guilt under a scalding shower—and ends up in a burn ward.

Energetic melodrama in straightforward style from the ever-popular Michaels (Plain Jane, 2001, etc.).

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2003

ISBN: 0-7434-5778-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2002

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SANCTUARY

Roberts is the perfect perpetual-romance machine. She churns out an almost inhuman number each year; she meets an annual March deadline for her hardcovers (this one even has the same number of pages as last year's bestselling Montana Sky). And each is lively, sexy, and well researched. Her latest concerns three siblings (the Hathaways) who find lovers and strained relationships while a homicidal madman is threatening their safety. The three live in a beautiful white gothic on the Georgia Sea Island of Lost Desire, which they've turned into an inn. Brian, the eldest—tall, cute, and morose—runs the establishment and is chef of its five-star kitchen. (His father Sam can't understand how a man can enjoy creating a perfect meringue and still prefer women for sex.) Brian fights halfheartedly against the amorous advances of Kirby, the pretty Yankee doctor who runs the island's clinic; the two eventually end up locked in an embrace against her refrigerator door. Meanwhile, the youngest sib, Alexa Hathaway—sexy Lexy, the island princess with the gypsy hair—has failed at acting in New York and come home to waitress and throw a few tantrums. She fights halfheartedly against the honorable intentions of childhood buddy Gift Verdon, who's good with his hands and doesn't let her get away with much. Finally, there is Jo Ellen, a world-famous photographer who's returned to Desire after a nervous breakdown and is fighting a losing battle against empathic architect Nathan Delaney. Twenty years earlier, the Hathaways' mother, Annabelle, had disappeared, abandoning her family—or so it seemed. Now someone is stalking the family, having even sent Jo Ellen a picture of her mother, dead and naked. As usual, the romance is better than the weird violence. There's not much suspense here, but it's good to see that heroines are becoming gutsier and heroes better in the kitchen.

Pub Date: March 17, 1997

ISBN: 0-399-14240-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1997

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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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