Cozy and almost life-affirming, but unlikely to win new fans.

A FRIEND OF THE FAMILY

Over the course of a few years, an interconnected group of friends living in the English countryside experience their share of laughter and tears.

After her naval-officer husband dies of cancer, Felicity Mainwaring hardly expects to be alone for long. After all, for more than 20 years, she has been carrying on with his close friend and fellow officer George Lampeter, a longtime bachelor with a compliant personality. She is understandably stunned, then, when George, with some interference by his formidable mother Esme, meets and marries Thea, a sheltered young woman in her 20s. That George is happy with Thea matters naught to Felicity, and she plots and schemes to wreck his marriage. Thea’s devoted cousin Tim then takes it upon himself to help Thea by having his fiancée’s father David, a famous painter, befriend the not-so-merry widow. Romance ensues, and love brings out a whole new side of Felicity. Sadly, it does not last long, and Felicity is found dead after inadvertently mixing her migraine medication with gin. Her death sends shockwaves through the Moorland community, with both George and David feeling tremendous guilt. Meanwhile, Thea’s bored and drifting friend Polly leaves her loveless marriage to a self-absorbed scientist to discover several willing suitors, including an affable dog-breeder—and the now-married Tim. Polly’s reawakening as a confident and somewhat ambitious young woman takes up much of the novel’s second half, but Willett (First Friends, 2006, etc.) weaves in plenty of quiet subplots involving babies, tentative love affairs and sudden snowstorms. Revisiting several characters from Willett’s previous work, this 1995 British release seems overlong and often dated. And with the exception of the conniving, birdlike Felicity, the characters are interchangeable and far from engaging.

Cozy and almost life-affirming, but unlikely to win new fans.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2006

ISBN: 0-312-30664-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2006

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Roberts does it again with this fast-paced romantic mystery that's both steamy and thrilling, despite its somewhat obvious...

BLUE SMOKE

Beautiful Italian babe with a passion for fire and doomed hunks joins the arson squad and discovers that someone has held a torch for her since she was a child.

When Reena Hale is 11 years old, she watches her family's Baltimore pizzeria go up in flames. Thanks to a local arson detective, John Minger, and the girl's keen memory, police determine that a neighborhood crook whose young son had recently attacked Reena was out for revenge, and soon cops publicly haul the dirt bag off to jail. The large and loving Hale family bands together and rebuilds; Reena grows up curious about the origins of fire. She attends college and, after her boyfriend dies in an accident, joins the police force and learns the inner workings of the fire department. Eventually, she teams with Minger to solve the city's suspicious fires. Meanwhile, over the years, a shady character has been hiding in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to violently sabotage Reena's relationships (usually with the help of explosives). Somehow Reena doesn't put together that all of her boyfriends have been in the path of catastrophic (occasionally deadly) events, so her stalker hits the phone lines to clue her in with dirty messages that become more and more intimate. When Reena launches a torrid love affair with her new neighbor, whose truck soon explodes, she begins to get it. Fearing for her family's safety, Reena reopens past cases and learns that her troubles started when she was a child. The tale builds to a breathless climax as she (literally) races to beat out the flames of one fire before determining where the next one will be set.

Roberts does it again with this fast-paced romantic mystery that's both steamy and thrilling, despite its somewhat obvious nature.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2005

ISBN: 0-399-15306-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2005

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

more